On Saturday, I got to just be. It was a perfect morning to be left alone to play and I had a few tons of flagstone to mess around with. I was teaching myself to lay a patio and I was in a creative trance. It was a morning of grace, of relaxed concentration and eventually, very sore muscles. Grandpa is sore today, yet happy.

I learned that flagstones break fairly easily, but if you carefully fit them into the sand base, they will hold all the weight you can put on them. The palettes of stones sat in a corner of the yard, each stone with its own pattern, color and shape, waiting to be discovered as I worked through the layers. I was putting together a jigsaw puzzle with very heavy pieces. After a while, patterns within the pattern began to emerge, I created the illusion of a stairway here and the right combination of big and little stones everywhere.

For a while, it seemed inevitable that I wold crack the “perfect” stone, but perfection wasn’t really a part of the job description. The cracked stone worked just fine.

I learned about teamwork, Teresa, my wife, knew to give me space to get going but then she came out to help. She swept pebbles into the spaces between the stones I’d finished, our conversation revolving around our enthusiasm for the job.

The quiet, internal work was my favorite part. I was present, at peace, I was, yes, happy. For the first time in a long time, I was happy. No turmoil, no guilt; I was where I belonged and I was building something that might just end up being around longer than me. I liked that feeling, I liked the thought that people might remember me for something: as the guy who laid the patio. I started thinking about how else they might remember me. I decided, after some mid-course corrections, that I was on the right track to be a good memory. A good Dad, a good husband, a hard worker. A child of God.

The best part: after a long, tiring day, we hosed off the stones and noticed a shine and color we hadn’t seen before, under the dust, our patio was beautiful. (Insert life metaphor here). I  was such a fan of the job that I laid out plans for a walkway and garden, happily we have stones to spare. I can’t wait to get started and, as soon as these old legs will let me squat again, I’ll be back on the job.

I’ve got some stones to mess around with and a lifetime left to play.


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