Cabinet doors and piles of paper…
I realize it seems like a strange title. Bear with me.
I helped moved, or I actually did move my parents three times throughout my life.
We moved from Pittsburgh to Ligonier when I was 9. Even though I was only 9, trust me, they worked me. Then years after I moved out and my wife and I were married, my parents downsized from the Ligonier house to their final Latrobe home (not far from Arnold Palmer himself). I helped them move from Ligonier to Latrobe. If you read my posts, you may recall that my parents both passed away in 2009. With the help of my one sister, I again “moved” my parents things one final time. In some cases we took the items, we gave to others, we sold at auction, and we put in a dumpster. It was sad, tough, draining, yet there were things I found, things I read and experiences I had going through their possessions for which I am grateful. My parents saved lots of my cards, my dad saved so many things from my career and notes about my accomplishments.
I digress. Years and years ago my father was a cabinet maker. He started small in a chicken coop as a one man gang. He grew and grew it until he had about 30 employees. At 45 years old, he had his first heart attack and soon sold that business and became an independent sales rep in the kitchen cabinet industry. He sold to other cabinet shops and kitchen dealers.
Well, as you can imagine, after having a large cabinet manufacturing business for years, after being a cabinet door and component rep for years, one does collect a lot of cabinet doors and parts. In our double car garage there were shelves, bags, suitcases, and piles of cabinet doors , front frames, plywood sides, and all sorts of parts. We had a metal pole building (like a barn) and at least half of it was filled with even more! There were cherry doors with stain, maple with paint, oak unfinished, and all other combinations. There were metal bread boxes that he bought in bulk and didn’t sell. There were bundles of mismatched, incorrect wooden spindle rail that some supplier paid him in lieu of the commission he owed to my father (for years he tried to sell pieces to recover some of the funds but couldn’t). There were laminated Formica doors from the 1970’s, cheap plywood doors for the projects, and fancy handmade custom walnut doors. In many cases there were just one or two doors of each. Sometimes there was a whole set (kitchen) of the doors.
Let me make a claim; my father didn’t throw anything away! He was born during the Depression and started from nothing and made something, something great. He accumulated possessions, shall we say?
I can tell you that the doors and parts that were moved from Pittsburgh to Ligonier were definitely still there when I cleaned out the home in Latrobe years later. And yes, he added more and more new ones! There were long, heavy, dusty, mouse-infested tubes of mold-covered plastic track. There were piles and piles of moldings that went out of style in 1979. There were countless damaged pieces, warped doors, water-stained parts that were beyond repair.
Why did he keep all of these parts? Part of me still gets sad talking about it even years later. He kept these parts in hopes that, when he retired, he could build things for he and my mother, for his kids, for his grandkids, for the church, for friends, etc. etc. Through the years I recall him holding up a specific piece or pointing at a pile of items and describing how he intended to make a table, a dresser, or a desk for someone.
Don’t get me wrong, he did build things for people. He made me a printer stand, computer desk, a workbench and I know he made things for church, for friends, and for his toughest customer, my mom.He helped build things for the church, helped with the kitchen renovation there too.
But, when he passed, he had years and years of pieces left. I recall standing in there barn, looking at the piles of things left behind, being overwhelmed by the work ahead, overwhelmed by the feelings of loss, and suddenly realizing that my dad will never be able to build all of those pieces for his loved ones. In that sad state I thought of it as some kind of ‘barn of broken dreams’. We had 4 of those large, full sized dumpsters filled and removed.
Throwing out most of the pieces was so difficult for me in many ways. Like my dad, I don’t like to throw away anything but I knew I had to get rid of some things. There was a sentimental nature to each item. There was the sadness, emptiness, and loss tied to the action. There was the feeling that my dad didn’t fulfill his dream of using up all of these potential gifts. He enjoyed making the gifts, giving them and seeing people enjoy the pieces. I felt that he would never be able to see that joy and I felt bad.
Over time, my state of mind improved and I reconciled the items left behind. Like anything, when I calmed down a bit, I was able to see in my mind all the things that my dad was able to accomplish and that these additional pieces would have been ‘bonus’ pieces for his life. I truly believe that.
So what’s the title about – piles of paper? My home office is sometimes messy. I have piles that are organized on my desks but they don’t look neat. From time to time I go in and clean it up, purge extra stuff, and I organize it.
The other day I walked in my office and was going through some piles of information, articles, books, CDs. I was aware of my own thinking at that moment and noticed that, over years and years, I had been collecting these articles, books, CDs, and other information so that ‘some day’ I would start to write a novel, a non-fiction book, a blog, articles, and other products to share with friends and maybe with the world. I was collecting all this ‘good stuff’ so that I could creatively do my thing to it and share with the masses. Sound familiar?
It struck me that, like other instances, I was just like my father here – but instead of cabinet doors and parts waiting for stain and assembly, my piles of information were sitting there waiting for my creative input, processing and articulation.
After a breather, after a bit of a shock, I knew that I had to take action today. I had to start a book, blog, anything. It didn’t have to be perfect. But it had to be. This blog that you’re reading is not the first attempt or iteration. So far I believe that it is the best one I’ve produced and I hope you can gain value from it.
I guess I just want to use up those piles of information sooner rather than later so I can see others benefit. Maybe my father was sent to teach me that lesson. Regardless why or how, it was something valuable for me to realize.
Here’s to hoping that you start using up your cabinet doors. You have a dream, a talent, information, gifts, or something that you want to do, right? Don’t let your children uncover it after you’re gone. I heard Wayne Dyer say once, “Don’t die with your music still inside you. Listen to your intuitive inner voice and find what passion stirs your soul.”
Show your kids and others around you that you value your talents and that you want to contribute to the world. Set an example for others. Be brave. It will never be perfect. Just go ahead. Just do it. Be yourself.