As I explained yesterday, Father’s Day caught me off-guard this year. I think that’s OK. Father’s Day might be the official day that I think about my dad, but it’s far from the only day. I was thinking about my dad a few days ago when Maddie and I walked by that scene at the right. If I had left his tools outside, overnight, well, that’s just it, I wouldn’t have. If he had seen that toolbox, I would have been out there, in the dark, putting those tools away properly in the toolbox and bringing the toolbox inside. This I know – from experience.
I was planning an elaborate post around that toolbox, and the memory it evoked, but now, I realize that that isn’t necessary. The fact of the matter is, I see my father’s influence in the way I think about almost everything. I regularly encounter people, things, images and activity that remind me of my dad. I regularly find myself in situations in which my actions and reactions are the direct result of having been raised by my dad.
I think, if my dad were here right now, he might say:
“Stop trying to make this more than it is. Tell them about the toolbox and let them go about their day. They have other things to do besides listening to you.”
My dad worked hard to teach my brother and I several things about tools. He established multiple rules about his tools, and he urged us to carry those rules forward when we started buying tools of our own. I haven’t always listened:
Never lend tools – My dad would drive to your house and fix something, but he would not lend you the tool needed for that repair. He wanted to be sure that his tools were being used correctly. I have broken this rule on several occasions. More than once, I paid the price by having a broken tool returned or by not having any tool returned.
Don’t borrow tools – Dad felt that if he borrowed a tool and then broke it, he would have to replace it. That was usually all the justification he needed to buy the tool he needed. I’ve broken this rule, only to find, as dad predicted, that the premium extracted upon return can be higher than the interest rate charged by Sears.
“You will never break a tool by using it correctly” – First heard after breaking the handle of a garden rake. Yes, I had been banging it into the ground, trying to get better leverage on a rock that needed to be dislodged. Upon fessing up to the mistake, we first dug the rock out with proper tools. Then, we fixed the rake.
Regarding the photo, I’ll share the story I was reminded of: I had ridden my bike home from a friend’s house one night. When I got to the bottom of the hill we lived on, I discovered that my back brakes were not working. Anyone who has ever gone over the handlebars of a bike when only using the front brakes knows the dilemma I faced. Fortunately, we lived at the corner of two hills and I was able to turn up the side street and let gravity bring me to a safe stop.
Not wanting to have that experience again, I used a small socket set to loosen the cable on the back caliper. I then used two pairs of Vise Grips to pull the cable forward and to hold it in place while I tightened the cable clamp.
Then I went to bed.
My father was bowling that night. He came home after midnight and saw the tools on the floor next to my bike. The next thing I knew, I was up, out of bed, moping my way downstairs, in my underwear and barefoot, to “wipe those tools off and put them away.”
This is a lesson that never stuck with me. I still tend to leave tools out, but I hear his voice every time I walk into my garage.
I know I’m sliding this in under the wire, but I hope all the fathers in your life had a Happy Father’s Day.