by Michele Gilhouse
The Gilhouse Pottery Story
One Thanksgiving dinner my phone rang for work. I work in IT, and years ago I was the Network Administrator for a hospital laboratory. My role in providing timely patient care was not something that I took lightly and so I accepted being on-call 24/7. I solved the problem over the phone, and when I returned to the dinner table, my mom wanted to talk about my work-life balance.
It was over coffee and pumpkin pie that I shared my "life plan" with Mom. Work hard now, save, become debt free, retire early. Mom said she thought I'd become bored and restless in retirement. I replied "Nope, I'm going to make pottery and sell my pots on the side of the road." She nodded her approval. Yep, that makes sense.
My mom was diagnosed with cancer and passed away only two years after her retirement. My aunt was diagnosed with another form of cancer and passed away right at the time she should have been starting her retirement. My sister was diagnosed with yet another form of cancer and passed away at the too young age of 46 within 18 months of her diagnosis. All of these events happened within a three year period in my life.
All of the cancer but especially my sister's diagnosis triggered a severe YOLO (you only live once) response in me. Despite being only part way into my "life plan," I enrolled in a six week beginner's pottery class. My sister tried to take the class with me, but in her condition she wasn't physically able to suffer the rigors of throwing.
The class confirmed what I'd suspected: I have to do this. We bought a potter's wheel and soon afterward bought a kiln. I haven't regretted a minute of the time I've put into pottery.
I'm left with fond memories of my sister sitting with me as I threw on the wheel, encouraging me with praise for my growing talent and telling me that our mom and aunt would've loved what I'm doing. I'm haunted by thoughts that in retirement Mom might've asked me to create an inventory just for her to sell at small fairs and shows. She was a real people person. Tending a stand at a craft fair showcasing her daughter's art would've been right up her alley.
Please don't wait to live your life. You only get one, and no one knows how long it will be.
"We" are Aaron and Michele Gilhouse, joined in marriage and pottery.
Today we work full-time jobs and then throw pots for the love of it. Our little studio deserved a name, and we needed a way to share our growing collection of wares with the public.
We mark our work Gilhouse Pottery, but in our hearts we're Roadside Pottery to honor that memory of mom who approved of my plan to go back to playing in the mud.
We hope you enjoy our work.