Remember this summer, that day Ben gave me my 30th birthday book and then we spent the day doing things from my childhood? That day we helped my daddy and brother clean up my grandfather’s old shop. Ben found 4 of Pappaw’s rusty old hammers all with broken handles that my dad was throwing away. Ben asked if he could have them and that day he came home and told me his plans for them. Pappaw had 2 sons and 2 grandsons. Daddy, uncle Danny, Clark and Jim.
Over the last couple months he’s taken his time, doing an electrolysis bath on the iron hammer heads to remove all the rust, then he stripped down new hickory handles. He got my mama to find an old document my grandfather signed, and had me, his trusty graphic designer, scan and create a rubber stamp using his signature that reads “From the shop of James Rasberry”. He painted each handle with red and white enamel, stamped them with Pappaw’s signature, then gave them each a good coat of varnish.
When he showed me the first finished handle and I saw Pappaw’s signature, I felt my throat tighten, the way you do before you cry. If his signature exists here, then part of him is still here, too. His DNA is my DNA, and I felt connected to him again in a way I haven’t felt since I hugged his neck for the last time in 2001 before Lou Gherig’s disease took him from us. Holding the hammer, it felt like he’d never left for just a moment.
My heart swelled with love for my husband who is so deeply thoughtful and intent on loving the people in his life so well. So extravagantly. He finished attaching the old, restored iron heads this afternoon and we wrapped them just before walking out the door to the Christmas Eve candlelight service at church.
We gave Jim and uncle Danny their hammers before we went to my parents and it was so special, the way their reactions varied. Jim was excited, and uncle Danny went from laughing and jovial to suddenly very quiet. He didn’t talk, as he turned it over in his hands examining his daddy’s signature from so many years ago. Then he said, with his voice gruff with tears, “Thank you, Ben. Thank you.” And he held out his hand for a handshake. We went to mama’s for a Christmas Eve dinner with just my parents since Mammaw declared she would be staying at home tonight, at her nursing center. Because she wanted to be there, out of the stormy weather. We had a long visit this afternoon and I gave her her Christmas Whitman’s sampler, just like always. Have I told y’all how thankful we are for her new “home”?
At mama’s house, there was dressing and ham and my macaroni and cheese.
And the response was so similar to Jim and uncle Danny’s. Fascinated was Clark’s response. Quiet was daddy’s. Mama was emotional, like me.
And then, to break the quiet, daddy told us, “You know, daddy had me swinging this hammer all summer long back then. It might as well be mine!” Later, he posted this on facebook, which says everything:
I hope you all are having a merry Christmas, wherever you are. Even in the stormy hot weather, it’s easier to feel Christmas on nights like this.