The Library (8-25-12)

A thin layer of sawdust covers everything. I can feel it on my teeth, in my nose. It has a clean taste, gritty and bland. Daddy says weIMAG0776 have to get it all and hands me the compressor hose. He sets to clearing out the scrap wood while I spray the shop and sweep. I asked him to help me hang shelves in my new house, I wanted to turn the front room into a library. He said no and went to work building me proper bookcases. Today we are going to stain the wood. We have to clean first, we don’t want any sawdust in the stain.
He is a quiet man, until you get him going. He is telling me about his paper route in the sixth grade now. His own father died when he was very young and he worked to support his mother. After school, and track practice, and football practice he would throw papers; the money earned he gave to his mother. I ran track as well, I store my old medals in a box next to his. I have heard this story before but daddy doesn’t know I have his track medals.
The shop is not large and daddy needs me to help him move the table saw out of the way so that we can have more room to stain. There was a time when he wouldn’t have needed my help, even now he doesn’t need it much. He is a solid man, strong in body and conviction. He is loyal to a fault and has a fierce love for his family. He would fight for us, die for us and kill for us without second thought or regret.
Once we have all the scrap and trash in the bed of the truck we close up the shop to make a run to the dump. Daddy’s phone is ringing but he can’t hear it so I answer for him. My mother wants us to meet her at the doughnut place around the corner to pick up my nephew, Ethan. She asks how the project is coming along, are we having fun, does daddy need to eat? “Good, yes, I’ll ask him.” I say. Whether or not my father needs to eat is a question I am quite used to and typically when the question is asked the answer is yes. When we get to the doughnut shop I buy myself and daddy a few before we head to the dump with my nephew.
Riding in the truck from the dump to the store I listen to daddy asking Ethan if he is excited to help us with the library. I can’t help but start to wonder if I will ever get the chance to hear my father tell a child of my own about his paper route and why you need to sand the wood again right before you stain it. I feel like time is slipping away from me and everything seems so limited lately. What I would give to have the blind confidence of a child that things will be just like this, with these same people forever. What I would give to be able to forget that forever really isn’t very long.
When we get to the store I can’t decide between ebony or weathered gray stain for the bookcases but Ethan prefers the gray and because daddy wanted to stain them a deep red I listen to my 7-year-old nephew. Daddy just mumbles about how I have always been the weird daughter, laughs and carries the supplies to the truck. Back at the shop we pass Ethan off to his parents and Daddy and I set to work lightly sanding the panels (again) and staining the wood. My friend shows up to help a little later on in the afternoon which daddy and I are both truly grateful for. The three of us walk out of the shop as the sun is just starting to set so covered in gray stain we look like extras in an alien movie.
We end the day in lawn chairs on the yard next to the shop with beers in hand trading stories about childhood pets and bitching about current gas prices. I realize that I am no longer just my father’s daughter and my father is no longer just my daddy. I am an actual adult now and my father has become a friend. Today was a good day.

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