Uncle Carl passed away last year, before the holidays. He made wooden crafts of various animals, fishing lures, ornaments, trinkets. My dad inerhited his winter hat, cowboy movie collection, and six large wooden silhouttes of geese. Dad kept the movies and gave the rest to me, figuring I’d use them best. “My lover of weird fashion, my artist.”
I wore the ushanka a lot that winter. The geese were painted white, their peach beaks halved by a crooked black line into knowing smiles. Carl’s style was always very bold.
I was freshly divorced, and living alone in a three story WWII era rental. I kept the geese in the attic, stacked on top of a box Great Grandma Daniels’ china. My family’s mementos were adjacent to a box of my ex’s antique Christmas lights. He promised to pick these up “eventually”. It felt right to keep the heirlooms in their own corners, where I knew they were safe.
Where I was safe from confronting lost time and mortality.
A whole year has passed. I lug the box of my ex’s Christmas decorations down to the living room. “Eventually” has arrived, a final untangling of our wordly possessions. I upset the pile of geese in the process. They scatter, smiling up at me – and I realize something: They are just templates. Carl intended to do more, but couldn’t. He left behind a pattern and it’s my job to build something from it. I prop his plain, smug goose on my mantel and carry the rest of the gaggle down to my workspace.
What I make is not necessarily the point. I have learned in my own weird way: cherish what you have, leave what you can, and trust that others can build upon it.