WELL, IT FINALLY HAPPENED! After working with wood and making instruments since the mid 1970’s, on Friday, Aug, 23, it finally happened. I was cutting some pieces on the table saw when, in a split second, I was staring down at three bloody fingers dangling by thin strips of flesh and a mangled little finger on my right hand. It happened so fast that I really don’t know how it happened. I do distinctly recall thinking, and perhaps uttering, some pointedly unkind thoughts regarding the specific circumstances which had befallen me.
I wound up in Charlotte in the care of a group hand specialist surgeons who told me candidly that I might very well lose all four fingers, but under the best case scenario I was facing a long, frustrating path of surgeries, skin grafts, physical therapy and that he and I were going to become very familiar with each other.
On Tuesday, the 28th I emerged from a medicinally induced haze in the ICU. The surgeons had operated on my hand for 5 hours. They were not able to save one of my fingers – which will somewhat limit my ability to communicate effectively, if you know what I mean (can still use my little finger in those cases where I do not care enough to send the very best)- but were able, at least so far, to fuse bone, shorten and save three fingers. So the journey of recuperation has begun. Fortunately the thumb was untouched.
I do not yet know what is going to happen to my art fair schedule for the rest of the year, but – “Oh, the unkindest cut of all,” I did have to drop out of Long’s Park and all Sept. shows, and the possibility exists, depending on what the doctor says, that I may have to drop all shows until 2013. He told me quite plainly that, while things were going well now, the next 1-2 months were critical and that if I was not very careful with my hand, I could very easily lose the two fingers that he has re-attached. As you can imagine, this captured my serious attention.
To quote, however, the indomitable Gen. MacArthur, “I SHALL RETURN”. I have NOT lost my skill, nor my experience, and I WILL adapt my muscle and eye coordination and, by hook or crook, I will come back. ( hmmm, perhaps those were not the most judicious terms that I could have used.) I am going to take care of myself, listen to the doctor and the physical therapist and “keep my fingers crossed”. (Opps, the physical therapist hasn’t yet assigned that exercise .)
This “down time” is giving me time for serious reflection on the future. I have just reached my 69th birthday and, while I have been blessed/cursed with a true love for this business, I know that I cannot go on indefinitely. So, here’s the deal, at present I have a good supply of bowed psalteries already in stock. For the future, I am going to create fewer, but higher end psalteries. There are psaltery makers out there who make very nice functional instruments. With the materials, inlays etc. that I use, I cannot compete with them pricewise, nor do I wish to. I am going to concentrate on building truly unique, one-of-a-kind, heirloom instruments that are not just functional instruments, but are functional pieces of art. This will allow me to grow, be able to “spread my creative wings” and concentrate more on the creation of these truly unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of musical art. This will also create a niche, which, to the best of my knowledge, is virgin territory.
I would appreciate any kind, “healing” thoughts which you may feel inclined to send my way.
Archie Smith Instruments
6590 hwy 73 E
Mt. Pleasant, NC 28124
704 436 8477 home
704 796 8309 cell.