I was sharpening a circular saw blade this morning, one of the old high speed steel blades that a very deliberate old veteran had assigned to me. I was working by hand with a fine white Arkansas stone I had purchased recently. I still have the one that Vickie bought for us, some 30 or more years ago.
All of the feelings are gone, now. There are no more tugs at my heart over the memory of her or the realization that she actually would appreciate what I was doing. I got to realizing that I have actually attained many of the goals that she had for me, for us. My lamp is sitting upon the cherry office file-cabinet/chest of drawers that I built last year, its a nice piece that I get quite a lot of compliments for, both for the unusual design and for the fine workmanship. It contains more hand-cut dovetails than you will be able to find in almost any antique still extant. Our very last fight had been over her wanting more dovetails in a piece I did for her.
I quit smoking a few years ago. For the second time. For good. I felt like she wanted me to quit to show her that it could be done and that she could learn to say "no" to things too, not only cigarettes but maybe also Inverness Scotch or even married men desirous of her.
Even, no longer do I have any longings or regrets for our lost son. For one thing, there have been numerable young men who have stopped in at my shop, learned some skills from me, shared in a bit of affection, and then moved on. I gained a young adult daughter and still serve affectionately and whole-heartedly as her surrogate Dad, the real one having died under questionable circumstances when she was very young. Besides, these are times when masses of current young people are going to die rather "unexpectedly", on account of circumstances. I am very glad that God prevented me from contributing to the burden of sorrows and pain that that will involve.
Long ago I realized I could never search her out again. She had held on to the utmost but I had hurt her, and then hurt her again, in my utter frustration with a situation that I could neither accept as is nor devise a way to improve. I knew she had married again, another programmer, knew his name, their new address, and that they had a new son. Almaz reported to me much more recently that she thought she had come to the restaurant to check her out, and that touched me deeply though I tended to doubt it. But I no longer look for her to arrive at my front door in heels, looking down at me from the step below me.
What struck me, as I patiently honed each tooth, all the while examining them closely with eye and finger, was that Lo and Behold! She is still with me. I still carry, remember, all the things she cared so much about, her cat Pud and his kisses and catnip, her long conversations, the twinkle in her eye as she poked fun at the common ways of viewing. I am so blessed to have known her. I still have the Kodachrome slide boxes she built for me and I have come to realize more and more how much care she put into them. I still have the Fine Woodworking magazines. I still have the oil lamps, and use them and trim the wicks for very special occasions. I still have one kitty-cat who loves and adores me and even kisses me the way that Pud used to kiss Vickie. I still have the attitudes, of wanting and enjoying painstaking, careful workmanship, of enjoying little details, of saving the screws from pieces of furniture headed for the dump. What a fine collection of experiences and knowledge I have collected, over the years, truly extra-ordinary!