B.C. man pays tribute to late wife with huge carving from favourite tree
Larry is sitting on his front deck, surrounded by tall trees in what was once his wife Patricia’s happy place.
“We’d just sit there for hours,” he says with a smile. “And just be in our own world.”
Larry says Patricia was a nature lover who always surrounded herself with animals and relished watching the birds and squirrels play in the branches above them.
“Loved the tree,” he says gesturing up. “Everything about it.”
After Patricia died, they were forced to cut down one of her favourite trees, which got Larry thinking.
“I was standing out there with my granddaughter one day and I said, ‘We’ve got to do something about that tree,’” Larry recalls, fighting back tears. “In memory of your grandmother.”
“I remember him saying he wanted to have it carved into something,” his granddaughter Crystal says.
Larry hoped Patricia’s favourite decanter, which featured a mother bear playing with her cubs on a stump, might provide inspiration.
Crystal contacted professional chainsaw carver Ryan Cook at Saw Valley Carvings.
“When I saw [the tree] in person I was like, ‘What?! That’s insane!’” Ryan says with an infectious laugh.
Although the almost five-metre trunk was taller than he expected, Ryan was up for the challenge.
“Balls to the walls!” Ryan says, showing me video of him enthusiastically slicing through the wood and revealing creatures. “One hundred per cent!”
While Ryan was transforming the trunk, Larry was watching every cut.
“Every time I glanced back, he’d have a big smile on his face,” Ryan beams. “It just made me push harder!”
Pushed him to pay tribute to a love story that began when Larry and Patricia first met in elementary school before reuniting later in life and celebrating more than 50 years of marriage. Pushed him to finish the piece in just five days.
“When I finally took down the scaffolding it was like, Whoa!” Ryan says.
Like the small decanter that inspired it, Ryan’s giant carving features a mother bear near the ground looking up at her cubs who appear to be playing near the top of the trunk.
Larry and Crystal couldn’t be more pleased.
“Overwhelmed,” Larry says through tears. “Great piece.”
And Ryan couldn’t be more surprised by what happened when he was carving the back of the trunk, which features Patricia’s name in the shape of heart.
“As I was doing it the chainsaw started dragging down in this beautiful line,” Ryan says.
So he went with it and followed the line down the wood until it seemed to turn into the shape of a man holding a string attached to the heart like a balloon.
“It’s the idea of holding on to love,” Ryan smiles. “You know love lasts forever.”
It’s an image that you can’t see if you drive by on the road, but Larry can view sitting in Patricia’s happy place.