Dad (Roger Beal) was always a “putterer.” Growing up I remember him spending weekends in the garage at his work bench, making something, fixing something, just puttering around. When he wasn’t in the garage he was outside building a tree fort, a swing set, a shed. After retiring he had even more time to devote to the hobbies that he loved.
When Jesse Lee purchased the Carriage House a whole new venue opened up. Dad loved to putter around and share his skills there – whether it was carpentry, painting, cleaning, organizing. Not only did it give him the opportunity to help the church, but the resultant camaraderie that developed among the workers gave him a sense of true belonging.
Then dad was diagnosed as having “early Alzheimers.” In the beginning he was still able to fully function, helping out as he had.Slowly we began noticing changes – he was more forgetful and couldn’t finish a task without supervision. He had taken such pride in his work and truly enjoyed spending time with the group that we hated to see that come to an end.
I remember going in to speak to Peter Seirup and George Woodring about dad’s continued involvement at the Carriage House. My sister and I didn’t want anyone to feel as if they had to care for dad while he was there, yet we knew the benefit to dad was tremendous. With Alzheimers, so much is taken away, that we wanted dad to feel he could still contribute. Peter looked at me and said “We are not just working on a building, we’re building a church. Have your dad continue to come.” With tears in my eyes I left the Carriage House. At that point I realized just what it meant to “build a church.”
Dad is no longer able to help out the Spirit Builders with their current projects. He does however continue to be a part of the camaraderie that developed sharing a smile, a hug, a handshake.