Bob McCabe, of Lopez Island, started carving when he was 30. Now many years later he still gets lost in the art form. It’s a passion, he said, that keeps him going.
“They say the symptoms of Parkinson’s disappears when you do something that you love,” he said.
McCabe was diagnosed with the disease in 2000, but that has not kept him from carving.
According to Mayo Clinc staff, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects your movement.
Over the last eight months McCabe has devoted his free time to creating a King salmon out of old growth red cedar that came from the Olympic Peninsula.
“Everyone should have something they are passionate about,” McCabe said. “Everyone has something they could do well if they started and repeated.”
McCabe also builds driftwood furniture. He created the outdoor driftwood altar and two benches that are now an integral part of the Memorial Garden alongside the Grace Episcopal Church.
“Bob’s work was very impressive,” said Colin Goode, a local art gallery owner.
A few weeks ago McCabe came into the Colin Goode Art Gallery in Lopez Village and asked if the gallery would show his salmon.
“The gallery is mainly committed to showing wall art but I thought the salmon was so ‘Lopez’ and so wonderfully carved that I couldn’t resist showing it,” Goode said.
The piece was installed in the gallery last week with the help of Paul Dolan, McCabe’s New York cousin.
Beyond woodwork, McCabe enjoys whitewater rafting, traveling, shrimping and fishing. He chose the King Salmon as the subject for his latest carving because of his love of fish.
“If I can’t catch them, I carve them, “ he said. “That’s my motto.”
He has a whole wall of wood fish at his Davis Head home that he shares with his wife Pamela. He has also presented each of his seven grandchildren with a carving.
In the future, McCabe wants to make more bowls and carve different types of fish like halibut.
He describes his Parkinson’s symptoms as a general malaise.
“I don’t feel good and that goes away when I’m carving,” he said. “Any shaking at all definitely stops.