Thursday, July 22, 2010

He Was a Carpenter

He was a carpenter--a humble master, with sure, strong hands.
He was a teacher--patient, persuasive.
He was a father, and a grandfather--gentle and generous.

When Wayman and his wife Adalou moved into our town several years ago, we little knew the impact they would have on us and on our church, but from the first we loved them. They were the kind of folk that jump into life and share it and help it happen. That first summer Adalou, an accomplished seamstress, made over fifty little costumes for VBS. Wayman designed and built a village set. Five summers later, we are still using these, and over two hundred children have marveled as they learned.

How do I describe Wayman? a doctor? college professor of industrial arts? fascinating friend whose bank of amusing stories reflected many travels and adventures? He was a deacon on the church board, and the school board, a Sunday School teacher, and director of Team U Serve, which repaired roofs and interiors of churches damaged by storms. He was his family's devoted fan, attending hours of grandchildren's games and school events.

And he was a carpenter. He built furniture, amazing and unique. When my husband--his pastor--asked if he could build a stand for the advent candles, Wayman gave a little smile and said he thought he could. A couple of weeks later, he came back with a marvel in woodwork--an artifact so beautiful we hated to endanger it with candle wax. Excellence, we discovered, was his trademark.

A little over a month ago, as we were all excitedly preparing for VBS--Wayman for his regular position in the carpenter's shop, Ada Lou for helping in the bakery--the report came in that he had pancreatic cancer. Plans came to a slow, stunned, stop. Of course we told him we were getting other crafts, not to worry. We'd be ok...but he had committed to build a craft for the children, so he stayed up one night and made the pieces for sixty cedar candlesticks--a sweet-smelling project that brought smiles to the faces of those too young to understand at what cost he had made them, or why he cared for others when he was facing the ordeal of chemotherapy.

Today, Adalou called for help in getting Wayman to the hospital, and I watched him half-walking in Pastor's arms, half being carried out to the van. His wife and his daughter followed closely behind--all of us moved with our arms and hands opened as if we could catch him should he fall--I wanted to help. How I wanted to help! But my hands were too weak--we all were too weak to hold him.

This afternoon he died quietly in the hospital surrounded by the family he loved. . . and the news is going out. People sit quietly and don't know what to say...

...about a man whose life gave witness to the hours he had spent in his shop, creating intricate and excellent projects, and conversing with another carpenter--One who visited the earth briefly long ago, One whose hands are not too weak to hold our beloved friend Wayman.


Carina said...

We were just stunned to hear of his death this afternoon. Heartbroken for his family, of course, and for all of us who are left here with a little less beauty in the world, but absolutely sure that he and the Master Carpenter are swapping trade secrets and experiencing the kind of joy that we can only imagine right now.

I know one VBS craft that will be in our homes for a very, very long time. In fact, it will be a while before I can really sit and look at those candle holders without tearing up.

aftergrace said...

What a blessing this man was to so many people. I know you will treasure your time spent with him.

Rose said...

sorry to hear about a special man's death. his memory will be lasting for doing what Jesus would want. Saying prayers for all of you in this loss.