When old Ben died recently, the town was saddened, but probably not for the usual reasons. Ben had been widowed for nearly 20 years and had lived alone in the house where he and Judith had raised their boy, John.
He’d had a lot of health problems, there at the last, too. Things weren’t easy for him.
Sometimes when a guy is in that shape, people nod and smile slightly at his passing and say, “Well, in a way it’s a blessing, isn’t it.”
But not with old Ben. There’s the sailboat, you see.
After Judith died – and Judith was the most practical woman in town – Ben started buying and reading magazines about sailboats. Then he cut the front off the barn/garage out in back, and began building one. He drew crowds with his work for a while. Everyone stopped by from time to time, and we all know it is to be 32 feet long and a gaff-rigged – not Marconi-rigged – sloop. Said they look more like real sailboats.
Eccentric? Well, maybe. Eccentricities last a year or two, but a 20-year project is a lot closer to being an obsession.
When Ben could afford more of the special wood he was using, he bought it. Sometimes all he’d get were some of those little brass whatchits to put along the side. But each time something came, there was work going on out in that garage. Ben took pride in the project being pay-as-you-go, so he wouldn’t owe anybody when he finally put it in the ocean.
Ben died before that happened, and that saddened us greatly. We might chuckle a bit behind his back, but we also secretly envied him and admired him for building that boat.
After Ben passed, his son John brought his wife and children to live in the little house. After a few weeks, we heard activity out in the garage, and we found John working on his dad’s boat. It would, he said, eventually sail.
There is no statute of limitations on dreams.
Brought to you by the new CD “Having Fun in New Mexico,” Fifteen stories by Slim Randles. www.slimrandles.com.