Some men have the ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. My father is one of them. He has taught me more than he will ever know, simply by being a woodcarver. Leading by example, he has revealed to me the most important inner qualities that often remain hidden.


In order to carve, the whole process begins by selecting the perfect piece of wood. Passing over dozens of pieces, my father eventually finds the one that is just right. Grain, weight, size, or maybe just a feeling helps him choose the ordinary block that he will transform. Sorting them into small piles, he narrows down his selection until he has just one. This takes time, but it is a very important part of the process. He has taught me patience and to never settle—for anything. It may take time, longer than I often want, but making careful, well-thought-out decisions have kept my life on the right path.

The block of wood is clamped securely and his sharp knife is placed against the rough wood. He hesitates a moment. Slowly he makes his first of many calculated cuts to reveal what is hidden inside. The woodchips that pile at his feet or fly into his hair represent his efforts. He has taught me dedication. Hard work always pays off. It may feel as if my efforts are small and not getting me far; however, they slowly add up.

I watch as my father proceeds, knowing that using the wrong amount of pressure or holding the knife at the wrong angle could quickly lead to injury. Yet he continues to fearlessly move forward.

Blood from his nicks and cuts has stained his work over the years, but it has never stopped him from creating. He has taught me to trust myself—to keep moving forward regardless of my fears. The possibility of getting hurt is always there. I only need to trust that I will make the right decisions.

My father knows [as any woodcarver knows) that a block of wood holds beauty as well as mystery. He is unsure whether a beautiful grain or a knot in the worst possible place will be revealed. He never gives up. The project may now require a little putty or the design may need to be adjusted, but somehow he always makes it work. My father has taught me perseverance. I will forever run into obstacles in life. It isn’t the challenge that is the problem; it is how I will react. My plans may need some clarity or redirection, but there is always a way around troubles.

Day after day my father returns to his work with a clear vision, but sometimes it suddenly vanishes. Picking up his tools, he just stares at his work as if in a trance. Frustration furrows across his brow. Not being able to figure out where to make the next cut, he takes a deep breath and places his tools back on his workbench. After visiting with a few of his buddies who share his love for the craft, he is ready to pick his tools back up. He has taught me to seek guidance. Even though I am strong and trust in myself, at times I need advice. Asking for help does not represent weakness; in fact, it is just the opposite.

My father is a simple man. He has taken an ordinary girl and carved out an extraordinary woman. He is my pattern—teaching by example rather than with words. He isn't a man of many words, nor would he ever boast about any of his accomplishments. However, my father's oversize, rough hands have always been outstretched to me to offer comfort and guidance. I know that I have a few rough spots and plenty of imperfections, but I hope I am the carving of which he is the proudest.

by Amy Zimmer

Amy Zimmer is a professional writer and has a blog called We Are Momo, which highlights Amy's midwestern life as a stepmom.

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