3.24.2009

Woodworking, Boats and Mentors - REAL Hope and Change For the Future!


I had a unique opportunity this past weekend to witness an ambitious young man about nine years old working with an ambitious older gentleman in the 70+ range. I had met the older gentleman before and knew his well founded reputation to be that of a "Marine Genius." Dick is retired form the US Army, has a US Coast Guard Masters License and is a walking encyclopedia on boat systems and repairs. I hold him in high regard and have a great deal of respect for him. He has some gestures that remind me of my Father, also an Army Veteran. I made some immediate assumptions regarding the lad that had joined him on this beautiful spring day. I assumed this was a grandchild and was visiting/working with grandpa. I watched them work together on a sport fishing boat docked to my stern and east of me. Dick was busy working on a large port light replacement while TJ hand sanded the combing for a final application of protective finish that Dick would mix and apply later. I watched and admired how TJ worked diligently with little or no encouragement. I caught Lana watching with a gaze of admiration and I could tell that she was also touched by the silent camaraderie that joined these two gentlemen as they worked on their own private project. TJ was so into his work that there was a fine layer of sanding dust resting on his face and he looked as though he was in the middle of a makeup application for a large stage production. Dick worked steady and determined on the port light and kept a watchful eye on his apprentice, without his apprentice ever noticing. This went on for several hours before they took a lunch break at the local Yacht Sales Cafe. They sat outside and enjoyed freshly made deli sandwiches and soda pops just like Grandfather and grandsons should do on such a lovely day. I gave pause several times and thought about the times that I had enjoyed working on projects with my children. The decks that Shane and I built, the times that Shannon and I fed and watered livestock, the nature projects at camps with Shelly and the rusty fenders that Jeff I repaired with bondo. Except, lately the projects have turned into the "Daddy Do" list when I chance to visit my wonderful children. And by the way.......I love the "Daddy Do List." It feels great to be of assistance and leave a part of me behind. There always seems to be one or two projects that require the assistance of one of the grandchildren. I reminisced of the time when I would visit my "Grandaddy's" tool shed and marvel at his neatly arranged assortment of tools and he would spend time explaining them and teaching me to use them. I also had thoughts, hopes and dreams that one day in the future, I would be able to share extended time with my grandchildren and work with them on labors of love. The two "dock workers" returned and took up their tools to continue there respective projects. I approached Dick and commented on how wonderful it must be to have his grandson working with him on such a fine spring day. Dick chuckled and informed me that he was a not his grandson but a neighbor. He also told me that that TJ had approached him about working with him and make some spending money while learning new skills so he too could work on yachts and boats. I thought I was impressed that a grandson would be doing this work but now I was blown away that nine year old TJ actually wanted to do this with a 70+ retired grandfather. What was wrong with TJ? Didn't he know that there are video games to be played? Didn't he know that he was too young to work and someone should give him spending money? Didn't he know that these are tough economic times and there was no work to be had by anyone? Why did TJ give up his Saturday morning sleep in and cartoons? What was wrong with this picture???????? Nothing was wrong and a lot was right. This whole experience gave me a renewed hope for the youth of the future. As long as there are TJ's in this world, there will be true hope. TJ's work ethic is at the very core of what made this country strong and we need more of it. As long as there are gentlemen like Dick that will mentor the youth with desire, there is hope. My hat is off to TJ and I salute you Dick for you are both fine gentlemen that I hold in high regard. My challenge to the reader is.......... if you are young....find a mentor! If you are old.......find someone that wants to be mentored! You both have gifts to exchange with one another. This is the REAL hope and change that Will make a difference in the future.

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