“Dad”,” I say over the phone. “It’s me.”
“Coñooo,” he says. “Estas perdido. I hardly recognize your voice.”
Ordinarily I would apologize for not calling the compulsory twice a day, but at that moment I was in the yard preparing the steel structure that dad made for me for Cuba Nostalgia. “Papi, do you have any 1″ angle iron?”
“I don’t think so,” he says, “Why, what do you need?”
“I’m getting ready for Cuba Nostalgia and I thought I’d add a little something to the frame.” I designed the Babalu structure so my Dad could build it but also so it would be easy – at least for Dad – to make modifications to it and change it up a bit without much hassle.
“I have 3″ angle iron here, although it’s pretty thick,” he says.
“”No, Dad, that’s OK. Don’t worry a…”
“I can go buy a length,” he says. There’s a slight hint of excitement in his voice now. “How much do you need?”
“I only need about three feet,” I say. “But don’t worry about it, Dad. I don’t want you to spend any money and this was only a thought I had about adding something.”
“Bah,” he says. “The Riteway guys will give me three feet for free.” Riteway is where he’s always purchased his materials. “I can pick it up in the morning, just draw me the little plan of what you need.”
“No, that’s OK, Dad,” I reply. “I don’t really need it. Let me think about it and I’ll call you back.” I hang up and continue getting the frame ready.
Five minutes later my phone rings.
“I have 3 feet of one inch by 1/8″ flat that I can weld together for you,” my old man says on the phone.
“No Dad,” I say. “Dont worry about it. Let me call you back in a few minutes.” I wasn’t about to make Dad go through the trouble of taking two flat steel pieces and welding them into a prefect ninety degree angle.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the angles would turn out perfect, at 90 degrees, with perfect unnoticeable welds, but Dad’s over 80 years old now and I don’t want him to go through all the trouble for something I really dont need in the first place.
Another five or ten minutes go by and my phone rings again.
“I have a light gauge, 1″ tube steel piece that I can cut into angles for you,” he says over the phone. I sense a little bit of desperation behind his words. There’s a little something there that that tells me he’s a bit saddened and maybe a little frustrated by the fact that he might not be building something for his son for Cuba Nostalgia this year.
“Dad,” I say through a slight chuckle. “Don’t worry about it. I’m not sure I have the time to do what I wanted to do with the angle iron.” Dad knows it’s a little white lie, of course.
“OK,” he says. “But call me if you need me. I have the materials.”
There are literally hundreds of booths and structures at the Cuba Nostalgia convention. Many of them quite beautiful and intricate. Many of them that took a lot of time, money and effort to design and put together.
But there’s only one made by the love of a father for his son.