With my vintage Airstream parked at my grandparents house, memories flood my mind while I’m there working on the restoration. I recall running and playing through their large flat yard with my Alabama/Mississippi/Georgia cousins at family reunions. We should plan another for this Labor Day! It’s been way too long. If I could just pick up pecans with my mamaw just one more time. The few little dips in the driveway held just enough rain water to have a great time of feet stomping and splashing. I learned what a coop was and loved to help gather fresh eggs. It’s like I can hear Papaw saying, “Shut the gate behind you or the cows will get out” and, “Put that tool back in its place when you’re done”. Crab apples still grow on their trees and my boys love to enjoy the tart fruit that still grows in the summer, even though my grandparents are long gone.
The old shop remains with jars full of screws, and bolts, and electrical pieces that I have no idea what they would be used for. My granddad kept everything. He recycled baby food jars and had it all sorted out on the homemade wooden shelves that still stand today. There’s a strong smell of thick black grease in the air. He loved to work on anything with a motor or that ran off of electricity. I often wonder about in the shop thinking about what he may have planned for some strange piece of metal that was placed on the shelf. I pick up a tool and wonder if he was the last to hold it before this moment in time. I can almost feel him standing there with me wearing his long-sleeved grayish blue shirt, tucked in his loose denim faded jeans.
With the tin door open, a stream of sunshine brings light on the dust that dances in the air. This was a cherished place for my papaw. It was his old-school ‘man cave’. Papaw could use his tools and talents to fix things. He could escape from the house and Virgie Lee to be alone to do what he wanted. He could be creative. He was a deep thinker. He was thrifty. He was a fixer. He was strong. He is deeply missed.
In the dark back corner, there it sets; a black metal lunchbox that I saw my mamaw pack many a time. Ben H. Reynolds worked at U.S. Steel. My daddy followed in his footsteps and retired there as well. Layers of dust cover the rounded top and leather handle. I’m not sure how it found its way to the shop. Maybe papaw saw that it could be used for random supplies. Or could it be that he came home from his last shift and decided it should be retired as well. I wanted to pick it up and look inside, but decided to just leave it there for now, just as my papaw left it. Maybe one day.
So, what’s inside? A handkerchief, work badge, old food wrapper, insulated thermos, screws or nails, or maybe nothing at all.
For now, I’ll cherish yesterday’s lunch and the memories made with two of the most precious people in my life. Don’t miss out on making memories with those that will be around when you are long gone. Life is just too short, way too short.
Note: If I borrow a tool, it goes right back on the shelf where I got it!