The Urn Carver

–The Dirt Road Chronicles

December 1970

The wind was coming off the river, cold and wet with gusts so powerful that the roof shook.  The old tobacco barn had seen many storms and the wood-burning potbellied stove radiated warmth and comfort.  The new pews were almost finished with a last coat of varnish drying, polishing. and then they would be moved into the Sanctuary.

Ted and me working together had completed the task several weeks early, and now they would be ready for the coming Christmas services.  Deacon had come to me and said my time to leave was near, and he had one more thing that he wanted me to do for him.  He handed me a certificate saying that I was now a master carpenter.  It was time for me to continue my journey.  Deacon stood near the pews admiring what we had built, yet I could tell he was sad, tired, and worried.

With a deep sigh, he said he had lived a full life and had not always been a Deacon.  He had lived hard and always walked on the edge and now the end was near.  His body was collecting the dues for this rugged life.  He had cancer and maybe had a few weeks left before he would be called home.  He looked into my eyes and asked if I would carve his Urn and take his ashes back to his home.  He grew up in Savannah, Georgia working as a carpenter building shrimp boats, and he wanted his ashes scattered from a shrimp boat down by the docks.

How could I refuse Deacon, who gave me a place to stay, taught me a trade, and believed in me.  With a deep sorrow I agreed, and he said you might want to start carving soon.  He walked over to the wood bins and picked out some cherry wood rubbing his hands over the smooth wood then handing it to me.  He turned and walked away whistling an old blues song.  I put the wood on the workbench knowing his Urn would be a labor of love for a dear friend.


They say that you can never go back again, yet if you can write a story, if you can reach back and touch those distant memories, you can go back again.  I can still feel the smooth surface of the Urn and the beauty of its deep cherry wood finish. This was an act of love and kindness.  That is what I learned from my friend Deacon Watts.

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Larry Tyler
Larry Tyler
Awaken the possibilities … then unleash them. After 55 years of successful retail management, I have returned to my passion of writing. I write Poetry, Storytelling, and Short Stories. As a child, I grew up on front porch storytelling. I would sit and listen to my Dad and his brothers tell these great stories that were captivating, and I always wanted to hear more. I wanted to experience the things they talked about. I started writing at a young age and reading everything I could get my hands on. At twelve years old I started a storytelling group and several of my friends became writers or poets. At 16 I hopped box cars and worked the tobacco fields, orange groves, picked cotton, and spent many nights around a campfire listing to life stories. Someone once asked me why I wrote. It consumes an amazing amount of time and I assure you it is not going to make me rich. I write so that my children can touch and feel my words telling of the ones that came before us and the stories they told me. These are the chronicles of our family and even though they come from my childhood memories and are deeply rooted in a child’s remembrance at least they may feel what it was like in the time before them and cherish the things the elders left behind. I am a Columnist & Featured Contributor, BIZCATALYST360 and I have The Writers Café, a group on LinkedIn that features Poets, Writers, Artists, Photographers, and Musicians . On Facebook I have two groups and one page; Dirt Road Storytelling, From Abandoned To Rescue Dogs And Cats, and About Life, Love And Living. As writers, it is true that we honestly do not know what we hold within us until we unleash it. When our words inspire others only then will inspiration return to the writer. I will spend my twilight years in search of the next story, the next poem, and the next image. I will take the time to enjoy my Wife, our Dogs, and Cats, and our amazing new home and I will always find the time to walk down a dirt road I truly hope is that I never have to read another book on Leadership, be on a conference call or see another plan o gram as these were the tool for what I did in life and not about who I am.

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