Today is my father’s birthday–he would have been 83 if he was still with us. In our house, Dad was known for two things: his singing ability and his skills as a handyman.
Dad loved to sing. He would sing at the drop of a hat. He fancied himself the natural heir of Caruso, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. The fact that he was tone-deaf, loud enough to wake the dead and only knew a few words each to three or four songs did not deter him in the least. The only words he knew to “O Solo Mio” were the title phrase, but he could belt them out with feeling and confidence.
But his ability as a handyman took the prize. If your idea of “fixed” is “broken to the point of no return,” well, Dad was your man.
His potential was demonstrated the day he decided the scale needed to be cleaned and oiled. This was long before digital scales were even dreamed of. No one had asked him to clean and oil the scale. No one would have even considered such a thing necessary. It didn’t matter. He got out his screwdriver and got to work. After he put the scale back together, two things were obvious. The scale didn’t work at all, and he had parts left over. It’s not clear whether he made the connection.
He next tried to plaster a hole in the kitchen ceiling. A simple enough job? Well, in the hands of most people it would have been. He started plastering, then he decided to take a break. No big deal, except he used quick-drying plaster. A couple of hours later, he came back to smooth out the patch, and discovered that the huge lump of plaster had already dried. The kitchen ceiling looked pregnant for years.
Mom tried hiding the tools. He worked nights, so Mom would try to do repairs while he was gone. If any of us needed something fixed, we’d go find Mom. Any Christmas presents requiring assembly were from Santa so Mom could put them together before Dad could get his hands on them.
Even mowing the lawn turned into disaster when Dad did it. He never quite got the concept of mowing around flowers–daisies, ground cover, tulips were not safe. He even managed to kill peony bushes by mowing them down until they gave up in discouragement.
When Dad got sick and could no longer walk, let alone try to fix things, there was always his singing career. The staff at the nursing home didn’t mind when he sang–they knew he was feeling good. Fans at last.
Dad, we miss you.