The Carpenter’s Son

Posted: February 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

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Junior hit his first home run with Dad’s old, homemade hickory bat. Dad had milled it as a youngster, on Grandad’s lathe in the old shed. He fashioned it to his own hand and meticulously sanded and finished it, as Grandad, the carpenter, had instructed. The bat was finished after much sweat, wood chips, sawdust and only one splinter. ’twas near perfect, except for a small blemish, halfway
down the handle. No matter. Dad had used that bat to squelch many-a rivals’ challenge in his day. But glory days pass, and Dad soon yielded to the work of his father, the carpenter.

Footsteps…Footprints…. The infield sand.

Junior was a normal boy. He loved baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and ridin’ in Dad’s Chevy. He had been in a slump lately at the plate. So, Dad, being wise as dads tend to be, suggested that Jr. take his old bat to town and give it a swing. Now, Junior had hit many, many pitches before with his favorite aluminum bat, which was the ‘totally cool’ bat to have…but he had been having a hard time getting in the groove lately. So he left it home and took Dad’s instead. At the game, he waited for a chance to try it out.
As (luck) would have it, when he finally got the chance to approach the plate, he found that he was feeling quite askew. His team was down by three, with bases loaded and as you could probably guess, there were 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th. To top it off, Junior was standing there, holding a bat that he had never used before. Taking a deep breath, he stepped into the batter’s box and exhaled; intently trying to focus. When the first pitch flew over the plate and squarely into the catcher’s unmoving glove, he already knew the news that Mr. Umpire had to share… “Stee-rike!” Taking another breath, Junior realized this bat of Dad’s was a bit heavier than his usual, new-fangled aluminum wonder, so he determined to swing just a little early on the next good pitch. The next pitch yielded quite another thing. This time, Junior was driven back, to keep from being hit in the face by an errant screwball. Picking himself up off the dirt and stepping back in there, he was oblivious to the cries of foul from his coach. Now he was angry. He could feel it surging in his arms and when the next throw came, he was ready. His focus peaked and he actually saw the ball hit the bat. As he became one with bat and ball; in an instant, he heard, felt and absorbed the magical note that is made, which echoes
through even wood, when a ball hits, just so, on the ‘sweet spot’ or the ‘meat’ of the bat. Fumbling in subtle shock to command his legs into motion, and without needing to even look, he knew the ball was ‘gone’…. As he circled the bases, his mind was glued to home plate still and what he had just experienced: his feet now on cruise control… fueled by none other than the roaring crowd. The noise of the crowd and being surrounded by ecstatic teammates as he returned to the dugout, somehow, already seemed but a memory, as if the moment was over before it had begun.

(How fast the shooting star flies….)

Bold, new confidence reverberated through him from that moment, as his passion hungered for none other than that connection again and again. Hour after solitary hour, he would stand on the edge of the sea shore and bat rocks out into the sea. Soon enough, he was batting cleanup and exquisitely living up to the position’s expectations. Playoffs. All Stars. Championships were his right. He had invested his heart and soul. He had sacrificed childish things for the rightful payoff of self discipline and countless repetition. There were days, to be sure, that his team did not win the day. Those were the days he leaned upon himself all the more. Many times over, it had made the difference. ‘t weren’t long before his teammates leaned on him as well. He was great in a pinch. None could deny. Who would not
expect all the usual glories to befall such a wonder? In school, he was adored by cheerleaders and staff, alike.
By the time college came, he had already bested his hi-school’s all-time records for RBI’s, HR’s and just about every other batter’s goal. Junior year; during the end of the last regular season game, Junior hit the ball really hard, feeling and hearing the bat “crack”, giving up the last of itself for the game, as it sent the ball, once again, over the outfield fence. He knew as he dropped it to the ground, running, that he would never use it again. As he rounded the bases that day, his mind wandered back to the day Dad had urged him to take it for a swing.
How long ago had that been?
Just yesterday, it seemed, riding with Dad in that Chevy; wind blowing and the radio playing one of Dad’s oldies… Dad was gone now, and so too, the bat that had brought him to where he now stood. Victorious, yet broken inside. The swell of the crowd shook him from his reflection as they lofted him to their shoulders once again.
Whisked away, not noticing what a blessed trash can it was, to hold such a fine gift, given.

The sun shines and the rain sometimes pours.

Though he tried countless other store-bought bats, none seemed to sing, like Dad’s did, when he hit the ball just right. Though he still cleared the fence often enough, it just wasn’t the same. A new season was approaching and Junior hungered for it all. He had tasted the glory of record breaking, the power of smashing the ball completely out of its hyde, and the adoration of the crowd. But, without that magic… it wouldn’t be perfect.

There was only one way; Grandpa’s trusty old lathe.

The next, short week off, he scrambled for a piece of good, hard hickory and set about to recreating that which his more-than-able hands yearned to clutch. Spinning, spinning, Grandpa’s lathe was unmoved by passion and dreams. The wood chips flying every-which-way around, gradually began to decrease in size; with the sharpening stone, more often, brought to bear upon the steel tools he used.

As its form slowly began to take shape, so did his pride.
Unchained; it coursed through him as glorious visions colored his mind of once
again hearing what began it all. When the lathe had done its best and its load was lifted, Junior began to fine-sand his new creation.
It was late and there was a home game tomorrow. Late into the night, wanting to be done, so that the finish coat would have a chance to dry; he pushed on.

As his mind raced and his hand slid, sanding, half-way down the handle of that near perfect bat,
a small blemish that had gone unnoticed, (whilst his imagination of glory had carried him away), was caught by the sandpaper’s edge; lifting…

Lessons come in the blink of an eye.
Lives are changed in a moment by.
A flash.
A splinter in time.
Sad to say, that it takes longer to notice the blood dripping.
But as all wise carpenters know…
It aint a good day till ya bleed.
Deep; deep are the wounds most true.
Loud are the screams in our ears.
Both; all so effective at…
driving home the point that will win the day.
Life is no game.
It is my single desire to double your chances
as I triple dog dare you to –
Run home…
Run home…
Run home…

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