I heard a supposedly true story one time about a skilled wood carver, working on a huge pair of doors for some grandiose building.
The design he was working on was extremely intricate, with leaves and scrolls, and included all manner of symbolic creatures and characters.
Someone watching the old craftsman at work asked him, "How do you know when it is finished?"
He replied, "It is never finished, I just keep working on it until someone comes and takes it away from me."
This story came back to me thinking about my friend and fellow writer Red Evans; Red lost his fight with cancer and died last Sunday. Some of you may recall, I wrote about Red's illness here on January 2nd. My thoughts on hearing of Red's passing centered on the fact that his book "On Ice" was published only last September.
We were members of a local writers' group here in Charleston, South Carolina, and he had shared with us earlier last year that his book was to be published.
All writers, or for that matter, all artists of any kind start out as raw amateurs, and work on their craft initially for their own enjoyment. I remember Red reading to the group, and telling us, "I just love writing this stuff."
He obviously enjoyed sharing his writings with the group, and the group in turn shared his joy when his work was picked up by a publisher.
Now just a few short months and Red is gone; he got to see his book published but didn't get to see the next stage, the success of his book. He is no longer there to promote his book, and attend book signings, etc. Something else he was obviously enjoying.
It occurred to me that life is very much like those doors the old wood carver was working on, you just keep on working on it until they come and take it away.
When that time comes you had better be content with the way those doors look; you can’t say, “No wait, there is a little bit here that needs more work.”
Red had done many things in his life, including being a radio DJ, a Television News Director and Anchorman, and a lobbyist in Washington. Writing novels was just another little corner of his door he happened to be working on when they came to take it away.
I remember Red at the writers' meeting last November. He must have known the seriousness of his condition, but never gave us a clue, and was still full of the same wit and enthusiasm as he shared his latest writings with us.
There was no writers’ meeting at the end of December due to it being close to Christmas, and I wonder if he knew this was possibly his last meeting with the group and he made a special effort to be there. I feel privileged to have known Red Evans, albeit briefly near the end of his time here.
The way he lived his life to the fullest is an inspiration to me. Had he lived a little longer he no doubt would have achieved even more, but in the end, he seemed satisfied with what he had done.
I have learned recently that Red had three other novels finished, so more of his work may live on.
At a time when most in his position would have been reluctant to buy green bananas, (Red would have liked that one.) he kept on with his work until it was taken away.