Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Offices and desks

My dad worked at his desk in his home office every day when I first came to live with him and mom. He had retired just a few months earlier. He had for a long time carried two attache cases with him. After he retired the cases remained there on the floor by his desk.

He had several desks actually. One was a very old desk that I had saved from an ignoble future. It had been my dad's desk very early in his life. I had a man who did such things for a living completely restore it. He took it apart piece by piece and then put them all back together with amazing skill and passion. And then it took him weeks to apply the finish. But it is a beautiful desk and quite large.

Another desk was one that dad had also used as a very young man. It had never been restored except that someone had put a kind of Formica covering on the top.

The third desk was actually dad's favorite I think and the one he liked to work on. It had belonged to his boss. He thought so highly of his boss and I think the desk made him recollect the man and those days. It is really big and older than the others.

Dad's office at home was originally planned to be a garage. But since we were on a farm we already had other buildings we used for garages. And dad decided he would be better served with an office so the garage was changed to be one. It never was an office although it was pretty obvious that had been the original idea. Later on, about the time I left I think, dad and mom built an extra large garage and attached it to the house by way of a breezeway. Breezeway is not exactly the right term though and "wind tunnel" would be more accurately descriptive.

When I came to live there I needed a place to office and I thought I'd find a nice spot in there with dad. But dad didn't like the idea for reasons I never really did know exactly. And he made me put my office down in the basement room where I now have my exercise equipment. Actually it turned out to be quite a good thing for me because it gave me a private place of my own away from mom and dad. And I really needed that space especially at first. But at first it really hurt my feelings.

When we brought mom home from the hospital and got her settled in their bedroom she had to have pretty much constant care. Dad was not diagnosed then and was not really showing many symptoms. So he was mom's caregiver and he didn't want to leave her alone.

They had this Samsonite card table that I've mentioned before and we used it to eat meals on when the time came. But during the between times Dad used it as his office desk.

But the thing is he didn't really have very much to do after he retired. He had a few bills and bank statements and things like that but not nearly so much stuff as when he was really active in his various endeavors. I understand this quite a bit myself because I kind of find myself in this same situation now. But dad had been working at a desk nearly every weekday and Saturday of his life for about 64 years and it is kind of hard to break such an long standing habit.

Not to mention the fact that sitting at a desk even when there isn't too much to do is kind of a purposeful activity that adds some degree of meaning to one's existence.

So sometimes I'd come upstairs to check on mom and dad. Dad liked to keep the door to their room ajar. He had this little piece of wood that he would put down at the floor between the jamb and the door for that very purpose. So I could very quietly creep down the hallway and peek in the little crack and see if everything was okay. Usually mom would be asleep in bed during that first year. And dad would be dutifully sitting at his card table desk. And all of his papers would be spread out before him there. There would be nice, neat stacks of paper and documents and so on. He was able to do that with things even to nearly the end of his life.

But very often he would be dozing. I could tell because he would be snoring ever so softly and his mouth might be just open a little bit. And his eyes would be shut.

He was a very light sleeper though so if I made even the slightest little noise or even if I just remained a little too long he'd come awake just a bit startled. And then he'd act like he'd not been asleep at all and had just been doing whatever work he had placed before him.

The other day I had to take some mail over to the man whose house I bought. His office is nearby and he still drives down everyday. He is about the same age as my dad was when I first came to live at home.

I got out of my car and went in the door of the building where the office is located. I turned down the hall and saw his name on the wall outside his office door which was open. And I knocked and walked inside. And he was sitting at his desk and looking over all his papers.

And it reminded me of my dad a lot seeing him like that. And I wondered if he sometimes dozed off there.

Then I got to thinking about myself. I wondered if I would also sit at a desk and pretend to do some work. I suppose I will sit with my laptop though. I will probably read my friends' blogs and some of the forums I've found and the online news and so on. And I'll become drowsy which I actually already do and from time to time I'll doze off myself.

And if my son happens on me or my wife or someone else I know then I'll probably wake and pretend like I wasn't sleeping and that I was engaged in something really important.

But that doesn't appeal to me really. I think I'd rather find something else to do. I'm uncertain what right now. Maybe I could knit some yarn from Maple Corners. Maybe not.


Annie said...

Hahahaha! You say the word and I'll send you some yarn, Terry! Gladly.

Lori1955 said...

Reading this reminds me of the idea that men are defined by what they do for a living. Guess that's why some are just tied to that desk. Somehow though, I just can't picture you knitting.

nancy said...

excellent post about your recollection of your dad and his desks. somehow, i could never see you knitting either!

flintysooner said...

You all will be surprised to learn then that my grandmother taught me to both knit and crochet when I was a child. I crocheted a doily for one thing which was a little crooked I admit. And I knitted a rather squarish, or maybe irregularly rectangular is better, hot pad.

But, yes, I wasn't very good and it didn't last very long.

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

What a beautiful post about your dad and his desks. I could just picture each desk as you spoke of them and picture your dad sitting behing them. Even the card table. LOL Actually, I can picture you knitting. You seem to have so many interests that I could probably picture you doing anything! Great post, Terry. I have three desks at my house and there are two here at Mom's.

~Betsy said...

Excellent post, Terry. You have such a way with words. It's as if the desks become a part of the passage of time - an extension of us as we age. They have so many memories attached to them and you capture them all so well. Brilliant.