Friday, September 18, 2009

Tom's Dad

I'm thinking about Tom's dad this morning, Harold Kauffman, my father-in-law. Tom took me to the farm in Western New York to celebrate his parents' 50th wedding anniversary shortly after we were engaged 21 years ago, and that is when I first met him. They lived in Houghton, where they had met and married, in the big yellow 100-year-old farmhouse that they'd bought after his retirement from Boeing. There were three houses on the property -- the one Mom had lived in when she was young, the yellow house, and the big blue house that he was building at the time. Altogether they had 180 acres of land, including a huge woodlot and pasture land.

One day he hitched the wagon up to the tractor and took us up into the woods for a picnic. With planks for backless seats we pitched along the rutty, overgrown path, laughing together, becoming family. We found the old sugar shack where Grampa Mills had made maple syrup long ago, and the tree where Tom's mom's initials had been carved 60 years earlier. Tom carved our initials in a heart on that same tree, what has come to be called our "family tree."

Dad built the blue house mostly by himself, with the occasional help of family and professionals. It was large and lovely and brought him great pleasure. So did his wood working projects. In the barn he had a workshop to make clocks and candlesticks, many featuring a lovely double spindle. He held the patent on the machine that turned those spindles. His new home showcased his woodworking.

They moved into the blue house just before Tommy was born and rented out the yellow house with the stipulation that if any of their kids ever wanted to move to the farm the renters would be served notice! That's just what happened two years later when we moved to Houghton. For three years we lived down the road from Grama and Grampa and called the yellow house "home."

Dad's garden was always huge and plentiful. So was the pond he'd had dug, until the local heron discovered it! He delighted in seeing his family, getting the mail, reading a good book, and savoring delicious food. Most every meal was "the best I ever had." He was our main man when it came to getting our magazine in the mail.

One of the sweetest gifts Dad gave me was permission to eat strawberry shortcake for breakfast, lunch and dinner! He'd make several trips a season to the fields to pick berries before breakfast and come home to fresh shortcake just out of the oven. Some days that's about all they ate. It didn't take me long to adopt that tradition!

Dad is with the Lord now, whole and full of wonder. If we work in Heaven, and I believe we do, Dad is doing finish work on the mansions the Lord is preparing. After all, we won't need clocks or candles in Heaven.

No comments: