Opinion: Remembering my father


Commentary by Ward Degler

I’ve been thinking about my dad lately. He died several years ago, a few days short of his 90th birthday.

Of course, he had Parkinson’s disease for 15 years, and I can assure you back then, the medication was worse than the illness.

But he was always busy before he was robbed of his ability to walk and talk. He was a master woodworker, either building or planning something.

When he and my mother moved into assisted living, he organized a community workshop to suit his needs. Several other men thanked him, saying they knew the shop needed something but didn’t know what.

Dad built furniture. My first recollection is cedar chests. He would build the chests from exotic woods like cherry, walnut or pecan and then line them with red cedar. He built a chest for all the girls in the family.

He also had a habit of adding a secret chamber to the chests. He would present the finished chest and then enjoy watching the recipient try to figure out how to open the hidden compartment. They never did, and he ultimately showed them how to open it.

Later, he made grandfather clocks. He would buy kits and then improve them. “They didn’t think it through,” he would say. He charged only for the materials, never his labor. He believed God allowed him to build something to share with someone.

He built the first clock for himself, which sat in my parent’s living room for years. When they moved to assisted living, they didn’t have room for it, so I paid to have it shipped from Arizona to Indiana. It has been telling time in our family room for multiple years since.

My daughter is visiting in a few days, and the clock may go home with her. Dad would have wanted it that way.