I have always been, in all my relationships with men, the technical support person, the machine behind the visionaries that they were. I was the one who got things looked at, fixed, done, completed and ready to serve to the adoring public that was always around the men in my life. And as with one who serves the sun, I was always in shadow, a moon in perpetual eclipse.
It didn’t help, of course, that I was never as artistic, or even as creative, as they were. I saw things, but never got them to work for me. The men in my life envisioned things beyond my horizons, and my job was to get out the proverbial hammer and chisel to work out the frame for the wings that they would wear when it was time to fly.
But then the man who taught me to use hammer and chisel was also a visionary in his own way. I guess he managed to pass on the skills, but not the vision. Vision can’t be passed on to one who does not know how to see, so I have learned, sometimes painfully. I suppose I could call him the first man in my life, the first one I looked up to, the one who I misunderstood for so many years and ended up trying to emulate.
That man is my father.
My father, by sheer example and perhaps quite by accident, taught me it was as much more fun to go shopping at a hardware store than it is in the women’s section. Fixing a leaky pipe doesn’t mean calling the plumbers, it means getting under the sink and fixing it yourself. Stanley is better than a no-name tool. Gadgets were cooler than clothes. In fact I ended up thinking gadgets were way cooler than clothes, which will explain a lot to the people who know me now.
In my teen-age years I used to think the opposite, wanting to fit in with the rest of my Theresian classmates in their department store outfits and Sanrio accessories, and as if to retaliate for not being able to do so, I wore my Mr. Clean t-shirts (Dad worked for Procter and Gamble for 40 years straight out of college), torn denims and leather sandals to school affairs, in an attempt to show my father his shortcomings at not taking me shopping. Later on it became my trademark, and my classmates thought I wore those clothes because I liked them. And later on I realized that I actually did.
When I was older I started to appreciate that my father, through sheer hard work, thrift and perseverance, gave us, his children, the means to start over, the leg-up when we needed to climb higher, the tools, the support and advice whenever we thought of going into an endeavor.
And I think that up to now, my father is still waiting for me to come out of the toolshed and become the sun. I can only wish that I could oblige him in his lifetime.
You know I love you, Dad. Happy birthday 🙂