Saturday, March 21, 2015


Dorwin is a man who shaped things.
On Sunday mornings my family sits beneath arched windows trimmed in fir that Dorwin's hands bent and bowed. The clear grain, the curves, are beautiful, but these lines are even lovelier as reminders of the lives he shaped.

My father's life was molded by this boatbuilder, this man whose hands changed the geometry of wood -- sharp angles into curves that would weather storms on our rivers and bays.

Dorwin and his bride were newlyweds with my grandparents. They have lived as neighbors for most of their lives and raised their families together, sharing church pews and picnics and camping trips. Their lives were connected at every turn, and my father speaks always of Dorwin with respect for his character. He talks about his integrity and the investment of time that Dorwin made in his life.

Thus, this quiet boatbuilder shaped my life. My father's integrity and gentleness and kindness were learned from fine teachers...and Dorwin is one.

Dorwin's quiet sparkle and low chuckle were a background to many milestones in my life, and the photo here was a snapshot taken at MyLinh's "welcome home" party. He and his family had driven an hour to share in yet another chapter of our story.

His granddaughter wrote to me yesterday, and Dorwin is failing. Cancer is claiming his slight frame, and the tears in my father's eyes last night were evident of grief...and thanksgiving for this man who helped to shape him.

I am thanking God for this man today, reminded of how quietly we shape those around us. May the result be beautiful.


Anne McNelly said...

Thank you for the beautiful words you have shared about dad. I have had a lifetime of blessings from this man. It is so hard to say goodbye to this soft spoken, gentle soul...I love him so much.

Phil 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ

Alex and Riann said...

Anne, indeed our citizenship is in heaven... Praying for your family now, thankful for what is yet to come. -Riann

susan said...

I was just speaking about Dorwin yesterday with Ted and Steve VanTuyl. We are all connected in some way. I only met Dorwin once but his gentle spirit impressed upon me. It is hard to say goodbye but how wonderful that we know we shall be together again someday. My prayers go out to the Foss and McNelly families.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying what I am feeling, Ri.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute. I love this poem by Ruth Bell Graham, of her own mama. Published after, as she said, the "portrait was complete".
Thinking of you. ~ jeanne & bob

As the portrait is unconscious
of the master artist’s touch, unaware of growing beauty, unaware of changing much, so you have not guessed His working in your life throughout each year, have not seen the growing beauty have not sensed it Mother dear. We have seen and marveled greatly at the Master Artist’s skill, marveled at the lovely picture daily growing lovelier still; watched His brush strokes change each feature to a likeness of His face, till in you we see the Master, feel His presence, glimpse His grace;
pray the fragrance of His presence may through you seem doubly sweet, till your years
on earth are ended
and the portrait is complete.