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  • Sue Hawley


Most people have at least one household item they cherish. There are a number of reasons we have an emotional attachment to an inanimate object that has no means of loving us back. Memories connected to the item such as the joy of a particular purchase, the person who gave it to us, or simply the pleasure of knowing it’s resting in our house are the most common reasons.

My number one favorite item in our house is a simple bookcase. It’s quite plain actually. There are no fancy inlays, no decorative carvings and no spectacular artwork at all. It is honestly the most humble article we own and I love it.

The bookcase was made by a man much like it; unassuming, sturdy, reliable and necessary. A man that much was demanded of yet survived those demands. A man who was a witness and participated in Pearl Harbor, Midway Island, Guadalcanal and lived to tell about those battles. He did what was needed at a time when many others also stepped up and did what had to be done. He quietly went about his business and did the best he could in every situation.

He had made the bookcase out of simple necessity. Our house is filled with items he produced merely from need. A workbench built that is spectacular to us, but was merely needed in his eyes. A cabinet full of drawers filled with screws, nails and other bits and pieces still used today. A simple box for quilts, simple yet elegant in its own way. A wooden chest made for his wife to store precious items.

By the time I had the honor of meeting this man, a devastating disease had claimed his ability to speak well. But as we were introduced, he stood, shook my hand and said, “Welcome to the family”. Those words stunned everyone in the room since he had been unable to clearly articulate much for quite a few years. Sadly, I only had the pleasure of his company for two years before the disease stole his life.

That man was my father-in-law. I treasure those items he lovingly made for his family. He believed you did your best no matter how simple the project might be. Every single thing he did will be passed down for generations. The memory of the man will continue not only because there are tangible pieces he made…Because of the character of the man who made them.

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