I scratched my head as my eyes darted from the wiring schematic to the tangle of wires on the underside of my old guitar’s pickguard. They darted back. I rubbed my chin. Where does the ground wire go? I traced the schematic with my finger. Ah ha! I reached for the soldering iron.
Ding, dong. The doorbell.
It was Halloween. I got up from my makeshift work space on the kitchen table and joined my wife Pam as she opened the front door, revealing a pair of kids, one dressed as Deadpool, the other as a pumpkin. In unison, they shouted “trick or treat!” I smiled and commented cheerily to the children about their costumes as my wife threw a generous handful of candy into their bags.
The cheeriness was a mask. I was, in fact, grieving. Earlier that day, I had lined up with five other men in my family, three by three, along either side of my Grandpop’s casket and carried him to his final resting place.
The children said thank you, again in a song-like unison, before skipping away toward the next house. As my wife was closing the door, I was already returning to the kitchen, my mind returning to the questions that I had been wrestling with all afternoon. How’s my mother doing? Will my sister ever be able to get over this? My brother and Grandpop were close too, would he be okay. Should I call them? Dad seems so sad too. Maybe I shouldn’t be here, in my kitchen, soldering new electronics onto my pickguard. Maybe I should be with them.
No, this is exactly what I needed, I thought. I’ve been with them everyday for a week and a half. Right now, I need a distraction. Something to keep me moving. Something to help me through the grief. I need this project.
I sat down and retraced the wire’s path on the schematic, this time with my eyes. My mind sharpened. I reached for the soldering iron. Time to get to work.
This is the first of a five part series telling the tale of how restoring my old Strat helped me cope with the loss of one of the most important members of my family.
(Here’s a link to part 2.)