After things fell through with the Montell lumber, we stalled for two weeks. I suspect Bob was as sad as I was about the lack of a plan. I fielded calls from the Boerne and Gonzales sawmill operators. I didn’t know what happens once the mill cuts logs into planks and kiln dries it, but that didn’t stop me from tossing out suggestions about what we needed to do next.
Here’s the thing about me. I am sure I know more than you. It isn’t smart or good; it certainly isn’t true. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. You might be a sales clerk or a nuclear physicist. I want to tell you how to do your job and what I think you should do next. That’s the reason Dr. Google is my medical professional and Judge Yahoo gives me legal advice. I am somewhat better the longer I am sober because in AA we talk from our own experience and don’t give advice. But sometimes that’s just a speed bump in my zeal to set you straight. That’s what I was doing to Bob. Throwing out suggestions on what we ought to do or needed to do or should do; Bob was bobbing and weaving and trying to think.
On a Sunday afternoon near the end of July, Bob suggested that we drive over to a couple of places he’d bought hardwood from when he was doing cabinet work. Bob recalled a furniture builder near my office who might have a good supply of a hardwood suitable for the cradle. We drove the streets around my work, but he couldn’t find the place he remembered.
We passed Fernando’s Cabinet Shop where a man was operating a forklift, shifting around board stacks. “Let’s ask him if he knows someone who might have hardwood lumber locally,” Bob said hopefully. There was a little language barrier since the operator, who was THE Fernando of cabinet shop fame, doesn’t speak English well and Bob just knows cuss words in Spanish.
Bob finally pulled out the cradle plan and said “for a baby.” The man looked at me in astonishment and Bob and I both laughed. “Para tu hija. Tu nieta.” I thought I was saying for his daughter-his granddaughter and I was right because Fernando smiled and patted Bob’s back.
I asked,”Tiene uh, uh, uh pecan?” Pecan, by the way, is pacana in Spanish so he got the gist. Fernando took us back to the lumber racks, dragged out some boards, and haggled a price with Bob. In the end, he threw in a couple of boards for free and we drove away happy.
By early August, we had the lumber and all the tools we needed to build a cradle. Baby due in October. We had plenty of time to build the cradle. I thought.
Bob came home with the news that his crew was working nights starting on August 13. Nights at his work mean coming in at 5:30 p.m. and working until 4:00 a.m. Because of heavy traffic, 5:30 show up time means Bob has to leave home at 4:30. Add in travel time and his work is a 12 hour commitment at best. By 8 a.m. when Bob thought the whine of woodworking equipment wouldn’t unduly annoy the neighbors, he was dog tired and needed to sleep.
We made it to Labor Day week-end, which thankfully wasn’t labor day for Bob’s daughter, before Bob could get the cradle underway. Everything about the cradle was more difficult than I’d have imagined. I had to admit that I don’t know doodly about cradle carpentry. If I had any doubts about Bob’s love of woodworking, they evaporated while I watched him lovingly match grains and stroke the board’s surface. The wood is beautiful and strong. This is a cradle that will last through Bob’s great grandchildren.
I got to learn and relearn a few things during cradle construction.
- I am powerless over Bob’s employer and pecan wood. You would think I would know that-and I think I do-but I often attempt to wrest power from God. One of my favorite new sayings is from C. S. Lewis: There are two kinds of people. Those who say to God, “Thy Will be done,” and those to whom God says, “All right, then. Have it your way.” The more I simmered and worried about the cradle’s completion, the more miserable and upset I got. When I let myself put the cradle in God’s hands, I began to enjoy the process.
- Pecan wood is crazy hard. The plans showed a cradle made of pine, a much softer wood. This darn wood broke bits and wore down saw blades. There were scorch marks in cuts where the saw blade heat burned into dense portions of the wood. Bobby spent hours sanding them out. I questioned Bob just not staining it because that’s the kind of thing I question when talking to an expert. After Bob rubbed the pecan wood with teak oil and polished it to a soft luster, he was right. It was the wisest and best decision.
- When I walked outside to see Bob sanding the sides of the baby’s cradle, tears streaming down his cheeks, the beauty of his work and the love that he puts into it brought things into focus. This had less to do with the accomplishment and more to do with the redemption. I am so privileged to be part of this story!
Oh! But in answer to “Where’s the cradle?” Here it is!