The Carpenters Gift
By Scott Newport
Even though I’m just a working guy with working hands I often wonder if others look down on me. Sometimes I hide my hard calloused hands trying to fit in with the professionals; you know the ones with all those letters in front of their names. I often struggle with the question of who I am.
I mean, I still recall the comment my mom made when I was eighteen and wonder if I should have listened and gone to college, fitting into the higher education plan. But this past Saturday changed me a bit.
After walking into a patient’s room at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, a temporary home for a precious baby girl with a serious heart defect, I overheard the grandfather asking his daughter who I was.
“Is he the doctor?”
“No,” the mother spoke loudly.
“Is he the nurse?” the elderly bearded man asked.
“No,” she said bowing down again with a slow and dedicated expression.
“Well then,” the man now gesturing with confidence. “He surely must be the respiratory therapist.”
“No dad, he’s the carpenter.”
Over the last few years I have seemed to spread my life over a few different expressions of who I am.
I started my adult occupation thirty five years ago working for my dad, my mom wanted me to finish school and said, “You’ll never be anything, look at your dad.” Obviously disappointing my mother, I decided to stay home, riding to work everyday in my dad’s truck as a carpenter’s apprentice. But over the last ten years there have been days I set my hammer aside.
Just last Saturday I was up at C.S. Mott. Now my mom is proud, not that I filled her dream of becoming a doctor but I have followed in my fathers footsteps. When my son, Evan, was alive our family spent many months at Mott and became familiar with the medical field.
Besides working with different services in the hospital as a parent advisor, I also mentor new families with new diagnosis. At times I will make something in my woodshop ending up a gift for a young patient. I have even taken the tools of the trade up to the floor and helped some of the young guys build things, a very cool experience. One of the guys died a couple of months back. His mom cherishes the oak, lap-top desk her son created.
After listening to the grandfather trying to figure out who I was I walked over to the gentleman in his wheelchair and noticed he had a hearing aid and was obliviously reading each word that had come out of his daughter’s mouth.
Without hesitation, the ol’ guy looked up at me and said, “This hospital is great! They even have a carpenter working here.” I nodded and then he asked, “Are you making something special for Mia, something to help her get better?”
Realizing he must have conceived I was making her a piece of medical equipment I didn’t know what to say. Before I could say a word, his daughter grabbed a shoe sized mahogany box from the window sill.
“Dad, Scott made this for Mia, it’s a memory box of sort.”
Her dad smiled as he opened the box and inspected its inner lining and small sliding drawer.
I smiled too.
After leaving the decorated room full of a family celebrating an early Christmas together, I went home loving the gift they gave me, a clear picture of who I am.