Grandpa had a secret that he kept covered with an old blanket in the back corner of the basement where we were forbidden to go. It was a big evil monster that would leap upon and devour any unsuspecting soul that wandered too close. But I was fascinated with it, and I often risked death to peek beneath the cover. I admired its scaly green body, its long arm and gleaming teeth. I knew it was old, because most everything grandpa had was old. But it still looked like the day it was born because grandpa took good care of it. Once in a great while he’d chase us from the basement so he could let it out, allow it to run for a bit and keep its joints loose.
Grandpa bought his “pet” many years before I was born, from a friend who got it new and had little use for it. It was magnificent, and grandpa paid a pretty penny, as he liked to say. Grandma wasn’t as excited to have it move in with them, but she always let grandpa have his way. So it was given a place in the basement when my father was just a boy, and there it sat for thirty years. In 1990 they sold the house and grandpa moved the monster to the new place, where it sat in a new corner still covered, still waiting for the day when grandpa would have time to play with it.
Grandpa died last week. He’d been fighting a very aggressive cancer for almost two years. He was a hard worker his entire life, running three separate businesses including a hardware store, a well drilling business and a water treatment business. His “pet”, his pride and joy, was a circa 1950 radial arm saw, which to him was the pinnacle of woodworking machinery. He bought it with big plans, but he had a family to raise and little time for woodworking. So he stored it away, only occasionally getting it out to dream of the time when he’d retire and make furniture with his saw.
But grandpa never did retire. He worked right up until the cancer made him too weak to do anything at all. The radial arm saw sat, covered up in the corner, waiting over half a century for a time that never came. Now that green monster, in all its magnificent glory, is in my workshop. I already had a radial arm saw, but I just had to make room for this one. Grandpa might be gone, but every time I use his radial arm saw I’ll remember him, and in some small way I’ll fulfill his dream of making furniture with his beautiful green monster.