Shadow Boxes of Dad’s Old Things


My dad passed away a few years ago and left me his tile tools and his vast collection of Dale Earnhardt memorabilia.  I wrote the post My Dad’s Death detailing my thoughts and feelins surrounding his passing. Emma and I decided that we would make shadowboxes of dad’s old things. Now my dad’s old things are visible and not hidden away in a bin somewhere.

Tile Tools

My dad did tile work for 40 years.  He was a master of his craft.  His tools are special to me because that’s how my dad made his living.  That’s how he supported his family.  He gave me everything I had with those tools, including a sense of work ethic that remains in me today.  Those tools represent 40 years of hard work doing something he loved for the people he loved.  I’ll always cherish the memories I have of my dad teaching me how to spread thinset and how to wipe away grout without spreading it from the cracks. 

Dale Earnhardt

My dad was Dale Earnhardt’s biggest fan.  Dale is embedded even in my earliest memories.  We would watch his races on TV and cheer for Number 3.  I remember on one occasion my mom jumped up cheering on the final lap, throwing her hands right into the ceiling fan.

I will never forget February 18, 2001.  Dale Earnhardt crashed into a wall on the final lap of the Daytona 500.  We turned the TV off right after the crash and we suspected nothing was wrong, just that Dale hadn’t won the race.  About an hour later my grandma called my dad and asked if he had heard the news.  She told him that Dale passed away during that accident.  My dad dropped the phone and cried. It may seem odd that a grown man would cry at the passing of someone he never personally knew, but Dale had become such a regular part of our family. It was truly like loosing a friend.

Building The Boxes

This weekend Emma motivated me enough to help her make a couple shadowboxes.  It was an idea that she came up with years ago, but we figured it would be too expensive to actually complete. However, in the process of cleaning out our house, we came across a board to use as the background, and Emma disassembled an old bunk bed destined for the trash. We used the slats to frame the shadowboxes. We made one shadow box of the Dale Earnhardt memorabilia he had, and the other of his tools.  I cannot even express how incredibly happy I was making these.  Now I am actually able to enjoy things he left me instead of leaving them packed away. The shadow boxes are the perfect accent to my man cave, and a constant reminder that my dad is with me.

The Shadow boxes

Here are the pictures of what we made and the process of making them:

The tile tool shadow box
The Dale Earnhardt shadow box

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Tiffany March 6, 2019
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This was so touching! Those shadow boxes are amazing. I could feel your pride for your dad and all he did for your family. I really love the part about Dale Earnhardt. Your description of the night he died and your dad's reaction, I could see it in my mind. I immediately felt sad for your dad.  Thank you for sharing something so special to you.