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Cradle of life

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When I learned several months ago that my daughter was expecting, I asked if she wanted me to build her a cradle. She said no, and I’m glad she did.

Just before my daughter was born in 1983, my folks made her a traditional cradle of walnut harvested from their property in the Pennsylvania woods. When she outgrew it, the cradle became her repository for all her stuffed animals for a few years before traveling around my wife’s side of the family. After almost every niece and nephew born to the family spent time in it, it went into storage.

But with my daughter’s due date approaching I let her choose between me making her a new cradle, or locating her old one and putting it back into service. (I discussed this a while back when I had to re-create a missing part for it.) To make a long story short I would have enjoyed making a new one for her, but I’m more pleased that she chose to use her own old one.

For one thing, I was never sure I could do as good a job on a new one as my Mom and Dad did. Theirs was, in a word, perfect. For another, I had already been looking at cradle designs and plans, and couldn’t come up with one I liked that would work better in their old home.

The more important reason – and this should come as no surprise to regular readers – is that I have a great love and respect for history, so this old cradle (“old” being a relative term since it was made only 29 years ago) was more fitting. My daughter’s home is very historic: The original portion was built in 1761, with additions made in 1842 and 1982. The cradle design is quite traditional, and it matches their home just right.

But the real historical aspect is that it’s the same cradle my daughter slept in when she was a newborn. And the fact that my Mom is no longer with us, baby Jed using a cradle she and my Dad built means that a part of my Mom is still around to take part in my new grandson’s life.

Sure, I admit I wanted to feel the exhilaration of my grandson sleeping in a cradle that I crafted, but I also know that I’ll have many years to make him lots of other things. When it comes to his cradle, this feeling is much, much better.



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