In the back corner of the yard amidst the trees, grass, and flowers there was a kiln. It was made of roughly hewn, golden yellow bricks, stacked with loving care. The kiln was about 6 feet tall and the opening was arched, leading to a dark belly where simple dirt was changed into something strong and enduring.
The kiln was made by a young potter whose skill in making pots was renowned. The potter was tall and lean with arms and hands made strong from molding and shaping the clay. He had a firm jaw, full lips, and hair the color of wildflower honey. Glasses framed in thin gold wire rested on the bridge of his straight nose.
Each morning the Potter would come to load his creations into the kiln. In the evenings he would return to check on the baking pots making sure their transformation was complete.
Sometimes the Potter would bring his young daughter to play in the yard while he worked with the clay. She was small and chubby with blue eyes and hair that was golden like a wheat field at harvest time. At the back of her neck the yellow hair hung in loose curls.
The Daughter would run, and laugh, and play as the Potter worked. He looked upon her with love as she gathered flowers or chased insects. While he was proud of the art he created he knew that his finest creation was this tiny girl and the 4 other small children that called him father.
As the Daughter grew she would sit at the Potter’s knee and listen to his wisdom as he sculpted the clay. In times of trial she would find solace in watching her father’s hands moving swiftly over the wet clay smoothing and shaping the globs of earth into works of practical beauty.
Eventually the Daughter grew to womanhood and went to seek an education far from the home of the Potter. She fell in love with a man who also used his hands to create beauty but instead of pots the man created music. The Daughter and the Musician wed and began to have golden haired children of their own.
The Daughter loved the Musician and her children but at times she felt sorrow at being so far away from the Potter. At these times she would make the long journey to visit her father. During these happy times the Daughter would once again sit at the Potter’s knee and listen to his wisdom. The Potter would talk of life but he would also whisper his secrets to making the beautiful clay pots and whimsical creatures of the sea. Oh how the daughter treasured these times and kept these memories in her heart. During the long periods of separation from the Potter she would look upon these memories like pictures in an album.
Her own children began to grow from babies into small children and the Daughter wished that the Potter could see her own beautiful children more often. One day the Daughter received word that her father had contracted a devastating illness. His family hoped that he would overcome this trial but deep in their hearts they worried that this sickness was more than their father could bear.
During the time of his illness the Daughter made the long journey back to the home of the Potter many times to glean whatever knowledge her father had left to share. It was a long and difficult process but the Daughter knew that she had to gather his wisdom and memories before the Potter cast off his mortal body.
After a time the Daughter again received grave word of the Potter. Her mother felt that the Daughter should again make the journey for it appeared that the Potter’s time on this earth was close to an end. She quickly gathered her things and made haste to be at her father’s side.
When she arrived at her father’s house she, along with her siblings and mother, cared for the Potter during his final days. These were days of great sorrow, for the Potter was in severe pain. While all of his children wanted his pain to end, they felt sadness at the thought of his passing from this life.
Finally on a beautiful spring morning, surrounded by his family, the Potter left this earthly existence. As the Daughter stood at his head and watched him take his last breath she wanted to catch the faint flutter in her hand and hold it, along with the Potter, close to her heart. Alas the fragile breath was gone in an instant.
Soon many came from far and wide to pay homage to the Potter. The Daughter knew her father was kind and generous, but she learned of many good deeds the Potter had quietly and consistently done for those around him for decades. Her father had left the world a better place and she was at peace knowing the blood of an honorable man ran through her veins.
The Daughter knew that she must share the legacy of the Potter with her small children and someday her grandchildren. These children would only know of the Potter if she shared the memories and stories of her father, helping them to find a place in their hearts for a man who created and did many wonderful things while on this earth.
She also knew that the best gift that she could give to the Potter would be to follow his example and consistently create and do beautiful things, making the world a better place until she too passed from this earthly existence and reunited with the Potter.
In Loving Memory: Robert Karlinsey 1941-2006