“Aim high, work hard, and love your family.” – Deborah Roberts

I spent many summer nights playing near this barn. I helped process hunted food in this barn. I remember getting Zelda for my birthday, at a picnic table in the yard, near this barn. It was long before the additions were made to the house, or the gardens put in where the pool used to be, or when my Mother was still there to enjoy the love of family near this barn. I grew up in awe of the man who built this barn.

 

 

My Uncle Dean is the epitome of a small town, back-breaking hard worker who’s outstretched hand & kind word knows no bounds. He built many houses, roads, and barns in “upstate” New York, but the best thing he built was his family. To this day, Uncle Dean cares tirelessly for his ailing wife, still gardening and hunting to provide for them, and watches his wild-eyed and free grandsons so that his son and daughter-in-law can work hard, too. He has overcome many setbacks and injuries, and yet, humbly continues to push on. I love this man deeply, and am so grateful for the time I’ve had with him.

I remember building the ultimate Chainsaw Cabin with my cousin, Bradley, when we were wild and crazy kids. We’d spend hours in the woods emulating what we’d seen Uncle Dean do, practicing our skills, and being free.

I had the honor of taking my boys to see this land, and two of the houses and this barn, that created such a timeless sense of wonder and freedom for me as a child. Geneseo, NY was a stop along our 3-week camping trip along the east coast this past July. This is one of my first fine art photos, the first I printed on a canvas wrap, the first I gifted, and a hanging reminder of what hard work and God’s grace can help one achieve.

My sons foraged in the woods and build forts with their same-aged cousins, race a tractor down the slope, harvest vegetables from the garden, and hear stories of the magnitude of patience, perseverance, and unwavering love that went into its creation. It was a peaceful and joyful time, the hours we spent on my Aunt and Uncle’s land.

The boys ask almost daily when we can return the to quaint green-as-far-as-you-can see hills of upstate New York, and visit their cousins and Aunt and Uncle, and most importantly, the good times as I remember them, as they’ve now become theirs.

Thank you, Lord, for hard-working family men like Uncle Dean, who exude your love and craftsmanship. Thank you, Uncle Dean, for what you modeled, and the memories you helped create.

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