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Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Memories Of What Could Have Been

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My parents have a large outbuilding on their property in La Salle County.
 
It stands as a silent reminder of my dad, who passed in November. The building whispers to me to come inside and explore and discover.
 
This is where he took his sketches and designs and ideas to build things ... and repair breaks and bumps in their daily lives.
 
It stands as a monument to what he could do with his hands. And what I cannot do.

 
His workshop now just waits, full of tools and machines and bits of leftover hardware that could never, ever be tossed away.
 
Where it will all go will soon be a nagging task. 
 
What bothers me is not so much what will be done with "Dad's stuff."  I think more about what I should have done -- with him -- in that large, metal shed.
 
Surrounded by grease and oil, dust and motors and metal, I see a world I avoided.
 
My youngest son, soon to be a working engineer, pulled his grandfather into that shed to show him how to weld. I wonder why I never did the same. 
 
Oh, I absorbed a lot, just by watching as I grew up -- and listening. But there was so much more I could have learned.
 
I think many of us forget how to learn. We are born with curiosity, but somehow it gets kicked to the side.
I look at my dad's abandoned welding machine and wish I had been more curious. I guess we're always in a classroom. But are we learning? Are we teaching?
 
It's not tragic that I cannot weld.
 
But it remains part of the sadness within me ... standing in Dad's workshop, surrounded by tools that miss the hands that moved them.
 
I'm Lonny Cain, and this is my perspective.

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