By John Matonich
It was a typical day and I was at my wood shop working on a few projects for some good customers. One of the projects was a wooden bolt-action pen. They are fun to build and the customer was planning ahead for Christmas and wanted 2 made, one for each of his sons.
I started milling the wood he chose and part way through the process I had to stop and reflect a little. Before I drilled the wooden blank to accept a brass tube, I wanted to mark the center with a punch to help keep the bit straight and true. I reached for a punch I have used for years and couldn’t help but smile. This punch is a weird contraption that is spring-loaded, so once it is set on the spot you want marked, all it takes is a little tug on the other end and the spring does its job. What made me stop and think a little is that my mother gave me this tool about 20 years ago for Christmas.
We lost my mom almost six years ago and besides missing her warm smile and soothing voice, I also miss her strange gifts. She was well-known in our family for giving things that made you shake your head, but it always made the gift opening that much more special. One year for Christmas, I opened my gift and it was a plastic egg about the size of a softball. I had no clue what the heck this thing was so I had to sit for a bit and shake my head. Because I was living downstate at the time and the family gifts came via UPS, she wasn’t there to help.
I looked the egg over and found a string coming out of the bottom. I thought “What the heck…might as well give it a tug” and I did. When I let go of the string I heard my mother’s voice wishing me a Merry Christmas and I was supposed to hug my kids for her. Leave it to mom to find something like that. These types of things were pretty common for us and I must have pulled that string 100 times until it finally gave up the ghost and stopped working.
You might wonder where she would find these unusual items. The answer isn’t surprising at all … QVC. Mom was a big fan and had it on her TV pretty much all the time. I remember sitting in her kitchen on a visit once when she started telling me that Shelley and Phil were engaged and would be married soon. I had no clue who Shelley OR Phil was, but it turned out they were a couple of the hosts on QVC. She spoke about them as though they were her next door neighbors, but given the time she spent watching, I guess they were.
It was interesting to me that even though my mother’s offspring all got these interesting gifts, her grandkids all got savings bonds. It amazed me for someone who lived pretty much solely on social security, she never missed any of her grandchildren’s birthdays or Christmas with a $100 or $200 savings bonds. I came across an envelope with my son’s bonds in it while we were packing some things before coming north. There were over 2 grand in bonds in the envelope. I knew I had them, but my son had forgotten about them. He was pretty surprised when I sent him a note and told them they were on their way to him. He and his wife I know will put them to good use. I always knew Grandma Becky was a sharp cookie.
I hope we all have those triggers that catch us at times and make us stop and do a little remembering. Whether it is the smell of a baking cookie or a found picture that hasn’t been seen for a while, it is good to take the time to reflect now and again. It is good for the mind and the soul. I just may have to tune into QVC and see how Shelley and Phil are doing….
And that’s the situation as I survey it…
After a 35-year career downstate amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.