It's Father's Day weekend! My papa is miles away in Minnesota, so I don't get to spend any time with him. I wish I could. Dad and I have always been close. We think a lot alike, and I fondly remember trips to the hardwares stores with him.
Dad is the reason I know my way around power tools and how to fix things. He was a computer programer type guy by day, home remodeler by night. I remember groaning on weekends that he wanted to drag me to the hardware store yet again for some part to fix a leaky faucet, or to install bookshelves, or build a deck... It's funny that now I look back on those moments with fondness.
I was always a putterer. While dad was talking to the local hardware guys about how to fix this or install that, I was poking at wood dowels, comparing different screw sizes, or I was walking down aisles filled with PVC pipes and imagining how much fun they would be to hook up into a long tube run for my hamsters.
These days I'm a lot less prone to wandering around hardware stores, but I still am happy to walk into one and imagine all kinds of things I could do if I had time. Those little drawers filled with screws remind me of my dad's badly organized workbench in the basement where he had a thousand things to poke at.
Eventually his collection of tools grew too large for the work bench and he took over the garage. It was harder to rifle through boxes in the garage, but I still managed to spend a few too many hours looking at tools and parts. I'm probably part of the reason dad couldn't find things sometimes. His system of organization made sense to him, but not to me. I probably misplaced more things that I'd like to admit.
I don't know of many dads out there like mine. If a water pipe broke, he'd pull out a torch and weld it back in place, and he'd make sure I watched and he'd teach me why you had to let the pipe get hot enough that the solder just went into the seam instead of trying to force it.
If they wanted a bookshelf along the entire basement wall, he built it. Heck, he built two decks, and one of them was a second story deck built after the one original to the house crashed to the ground! He did all his projects almost entirely by himself, with the occasional help from me.
He spent the whole time doing projects telling me what he was doing, going through the list of steps he made with me, and made sure to ask me if I wanted to watch him and learn. He'd show me the diagrams and lists, go through how to level the shelves, and point out the troublesome areas to me. He took his time to make sure I understood the process.
He never once said I couldn't help, that I couldn't learn from him. I never got the conversation about how I was a girl and couldn't do manly things. It was just assumed I could. Sure, I had Barbie dolls and played with girly thing, but I also was the dad's helper. I played the role of both the youngest daughter and the youngest son, and I really didn't realize it was strange at all until I was older.
If dad needed help holding a board, and I was the one to do it. If dad had to move a ton of boards to the backyard for the deck, I was the one called to help him. I hated it as a kid, I felt like the family mule sometimes (and would tell everyone quite vocally that this was true) but now I look back and realize what I learned from it.
Sometimes you just had to move those boards, build a deck, or fix a leaky faucet. Instead of complaining, you just got it done, no matter how many trips to the hardware store it took, and sometimes it took a whole heck of a lot of visits to the hardware stores. And when you went, you always tried to take your kid with you, so they'd learn something, even if they were bored the whole time.