One man’s trash is another man’s treasure — this could very well shape how Henry Leo lives his life.
This 80-year-old master craftsman enjoys making beautiful and practical things out of scraps and objects that other people have discarded — perhaps because he was raised in a different time, when people repaired things instead of buying new ones.
The Benefits Of Reusing Old Things
“My things may be old, but they are of good quality, which is important to me,” he says, adding that he spends a lot of time repairing or making things for friends. “My neighbour told me her flower stand collapsed, so I told her I would build one for her using some metal I had on hand.”
He adds, “Whenever I see good materials, like wood, that are thrown away, I bring it home, and make something with it or repair it. Then I give it away to someone who needs it more.”
Take for instance, an armchair that he found discarded. “I brought it home, cleaned it up, and reupholstered it. Then I gave it to a friend who needed a chair for her priest. She was very happy about it. When someone wants something that I have fixed or made, I let it go. So long as they enjoy what I am giving away, I am happy.”
Henry keeps busy with many hobbies and activities. Apart from carpentry and repairing old furniture, he also loves flower arranging, volunteering at church and gardening.
The Advantages Of Nurturing Nature
His love for gardening might have to do with him growing up surrounded by nature. “When I was a child, my parents had a big garden, full of fruit trees and plants and I used to spend a lot of time there, climbing trees and playing.” That passion for greenery and growing this has not diminished over time. In fact, he loves gardening so much that he even grew a banana tree in his flat!
He recalls, “One of my neighbours saw a half-dead banana tree that was thrown away. He brought it to me, asking if I could do anything with it. It was almost dead, but I nursed it and eventually, it revived. It grew so beautifully, even producing two and a half combs of bananas! When you can do something like that, it’s a joy to see, a satisfaction.”
The Joys Of Making Decorative Ornaments
As someone who finds so much joy from plants and gardening, it’s no surprise that Henry got into flower arranging as well. He recalls a specific memory that sparked his initial interest, “When my mum passed away, my sister and I went to present flowers at church and the priest suggested we try arranging flowers for the altar. It started from there.”
From flower arrangements, Henry branched out to making ornaments out of dried out twigs and branches. He would spray paint them and add decorative accents such as gold leaf.
Why Creativity Should Benefit Other People
When not out and about pursuing his many hobbies, Henry enjoys watching TV and a bit of shopping, adding that he likes watching Westerns and — you guessed it — nature documentaries. But he’s not one to sit still for long. “I am happiest when I have something to occupy myself with. That’s why I pick up everything that I think I can use.”
His advice to fellow seniors says a lot about who he is: “To enjoy life, you have to find something you enjoy that also benefits others.”