To the Point for 6/15/2006


THERE ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE A LOT going on in Switzerland County this summer. This weekend we have the crowning of the fair queen; a fundraiser for cancer research; and a garden home tour in addition to all of the usual and customary things that are going on.

Somewhat lost in the hectic shuffle of the summer, Sunday is also Father’s Day — a day when all of us are supposed to stop and take a moment to remember our fathers and thank them for all that they have done in our lives.

But it’s a busy time, with vacations and little league and other events, so most of the time dads get whatever time is left. That’s not an indictment of anyone, it’s just the way our society is today.

I once read a statistic — obviously before cell phones — that there are more phone calls made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year.

For dads? Those same statistics said that Father’s Day held the distinction of being the day when the most collect calls were made.

Kinda typical, isn’t it, dads? People want to say hello — and they want you to pay for it.

I’m a pretty lucky man in that I still have my dad around. After more than 45 years of butting heads, I think we’ve found some common ground that has allowed us to have a relationship as father and son, and that makes me pretty lucky, because often times we don’t understand the wisdom and value that our fathers have for us until its too late to learn.

My dad is a tool and die maker, and a darn good one. I, on the other hand, am not in anyway a “handy” individual. For years my dad has given me tools at different times: for my birthday, for Christmas, or just because he thought I needed one.

One of my most prized possessions is a left-handed adjustable wrench.

You read that correctly.

My dad opened the trunk of his car on one visit and proudly displayed a left-handed adjustable wrench that he had found and bought for me (Did I mention I’m left-handed?)

Now before you say that there is no such thing (which is what I thought at the time, but didn’t say), take an adjustable wrench from your tool box, hold it correctly (there is a right and wrong way to hold one) in your right hand, and with your thumb move the gear upwards.

Yours will open when you do that. Do that same thing with mine, and it closes.

Because it’s made for left-handed work — which my father apparently thinks I do.

Over the years I’ve gotten voltage meters, drill tap sets, table saws, drill presses, and other various pieces of hardware that fill my rolling tool chest — which my dad also gave me.

For years I’ve collected all of these things and kept them, mainly because my dad gave them to me, but the funniest thing started to happen recently.

I suddenly found that I needed those things.

I was hanging new light fixtures in a bedroom and needed to strip one of the wires. “I have a tool for that,” I thought to myself.

Out to the garage and opening the tool chest, the tool I needed was right there — thanks to dad — and I felt like Bob Vila.

My experiences with my dad and my tools seem to be an example to all of us about the true value of dads.

They teach us many lessons, most of which don’t sink in right away. They teach us to throw and catch, only to see a coach get all the credit when we’re teenagers. They watch us roll our eyes at the notion that they know what’s best for us; and they send us money when we have to admit that they did.

Like those tools in my tool chest, I continually discover the value of the information that my dad has given me over my lifetime. Maybe I didn’t understand what he was talking about at the time; but nearly everyday I find myself going through the “tool chest” of wisdom that my dad put in my mind. I pull out bits and pieces that I used to think were nice but not applicable; and soon discover that I am the man that I am because my dad was the father that he was — and is.

Like I said, I’m a lucky person. Not only do I have a garage filled with tools and machines; but I also have a dad who spent the time that he needed to teach me the true value of the possessions I have.

Thanks, dad, and Happy Father’s Day.