Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: SHOP (01/03/19)
TITLE: Milestones and Millstones
By Stephen Kimball
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Getting lost in my work was a way of life. Even as a youngster, I would get so involved in a project, my mother would have to drag me away for dinner and a bath so I would be clean for school the next day. Why? I wondered. I hated school but I had a mechanical mind that wouldn’t quit. We had a couple of small engines, at the house, that I must have taken apart twenty-five times or more just to put them back together. No, bookwork wasn’t my thing, but man, I was at home out in the shop.
By the 6th grade, I had had about enough of school. To my surprise though, middle school offered a shop class that taught design and drawing as well as woodworking. That was the only time I remember being excited about school. They allowed me to fill both my electives with that class, so I suffered through all my other subjects in order to go play in the shop for the last two hours of the day.
Mr. Moninger and I got along from the start. Always the encourager; he told me once I had clear God given talents – I never forgot that. One of his first assignments was to draw plans for a house. While most everyone else drew the house they lived in, I took it upon myself to make it my dream house. By the end of the week, when everyone was struggling to finish their project on time, I had detailed my 9,000 sq. ft. three story home, complete with a pool, a supersized garage and an adjacent barn that would house my own personal work shop.
I soaked up all of the teacher’s knowledge and had an unceasing thirst for more. I discovered that I loved building things with my hands, even then, taking pride in my art. I knew that this was one occupation where my perfectionist tendencies would serve me well. A part time job in a nearby cabinet shop quickly turned into a full-time position and I soon found myself making a living doing what I knew I was born to do. Eventually, school officially dropped off the radar in favor of helping to support my mother. It is a decision I have never regretted.
One thing led to another… I became a custom cabinet maker… had my own shop. I did some work for some very wealthy people and the word spread. I had a very successful career doing what I loved. Toward the end, one of my clients offered me an amazing job as a quality control inspector for his cruise line. So, for a season, I worked in the ship yards of Europe and Scandinavia and while that was very interesting and rewarding, it wasn’t my first love.
I viewed retirement, then, as a return to my roots. I set up shop in my garage and went back to work on some personal projects. Maybe it took me a little longer and maybe it took a little more effort but I was back doing what I was meant to do and while that felt good, emotionally, it was difficult physically. But what a joy it was to design and create again.
Now, my tools are just a memory. My body stopped cooperating all together and my mind isn’t far behind. I still crave usefulness and satisfaction but I know that it will only come in God’s heavenly economy. They say we will have responsibilities in the life to come. I can only hope and pray I will get back to doing what I do best…building. After all, my savior was a carpenter too and he declared that he was going to prepare our mansions. There are a lot of Christians, so I figure there are a lot of mansions to build, and he might like some help. I am ready to go to work for the Master.
*Based on the life and career of my father, with a healthy amount of artistic license.
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