I experienced a little loss today, unexpectedly. I bought some carpenters pencils, excited to use them in some kind of creativity. I used to sketch all the time – my grandfather taught me. He taught me about the best paper, the best pencils, the best erasers. Never colour. Pure sketching that his father taught him.

And I knew when I bought them that they don’t fit into pencil sharpeners and the best way to sharpen them is with a pen knife. Which my grandfather used to always do for me.

Gramps carried – always – a Swiss Army Knife in his pocket. And when pencils needed sharpening he pulled it out and cut away at the wood. It left behind beautiful shapes and a perfect pencil tip for sketching.

And I never asked him to show me how.

Gramps turns 97 at the end of the month. He’s lost dexterity in his hands. When we moved him into the facility he’s in now I found that knife among other things in his desk and I had an immediate emotional reaction. This is a small thing so connected to my memory of my grandfather and something small he did for me.

I had a similar emotional reaction today when I realized that in order to use these pencils and practice the creativity he taught me to express, I will have to teach myself this small thing.

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