In 2004, township officials approved my business plan to operate a small lavender farm on our property. A year later, my Michigan State University agriculture agent said, “Here’s Andy Meinhard’s phone number. He can build anything.”

Andy showed up unannounced with a smile, introduced himself, and asked, “What do you need?”

I swept a hand toward the prairie. “I need what it takes to develop my vision of visitors harvesting rows of blooming lavender on this land.”

Andy nodded. “What else do you need?”

“A large, sturdy potting table. I’m presently using a card table to pot plants. Come summer, I’ll need a pavilion with a gift shop and storage room for drying lavender bundles and serving food.”

Andy shook his head. “I’m sorry, I no longer have a construction crew, but I can make your potting table and whatever else one handyman can do.”

Also a family farmer, Andy owned every machine necessary to transform a portion of our rolling vistas into my dream, and every tool necessary to build small structures and furniture.

“First, let’s talk about the potting table,” I said.

Andy followed me into the garage where I stored decorative ceiling tin I’d purchased from an antique shop in Staffordsville, Kentucky.

“I’d like you to include this fleur de lis tin into the table some way,” I said.

With a clip in his step, Andy carried my treasure to his truck, slid it in the back with his tools, and drove off.

True to form, he returned the following week with his mammoth masterpiece. He’d inserted the fleur de lis tin like a mirror attached to a dresser, two drawers beneath the table, and a large storage shelf beneath the drawers. He’d sanded the rusted tin and painted it baby blue.

“Do you like it?” he asked.

“I love it. I could never have imagined something so magnificent yet practical.”

An enthusiastic expert when envisioning ideas and building them, Andy later assembled a children’s structure with ash saplings hewn from his property. I named the vine-covered hide-away Sweet Spot for its birds’ eye view overlooking the pavilion and blooming fields.

My farm hand also constructed steps descending Sweet Spot’s pinnacle, about thirty signs, our hen house, and thirteen barn wood tables and twenty six benches.

This week, several summers after Andy passed, I sanded and painted his potting table the color lupine. In the slow, meditative strokes of the paintbrush and roller, I recalled him say, “We’re goin’ up to the River this weekend.”

I miss the sight of Andy walking downhill to the pavilion. A fellow chocoholic, he’d lift a small bag of chocolate chip cookies before me. We’d sit and talk about deer hunting, fishing, and the peaceful living on his River with family and friends.

Dear Reader, Andy Meinhard could build anything, including the friendship of a loving brother. Nothing fulfilled him more than to work wholeheartedly on a project and rest well afterward with something chocolate in hand.

A business partnership made in Heaven.

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