I was 18 years old, moving into Carmichael Hall, beginning my sophomore year at Tufts when I first did it. My roommate and I started fixing up our room, and I did it. I hammered my first nail into the wall, and hung one of my poster boards. Hammered a nail? Yes, it’s true. Until that time I never had the need to pick up a tool and do anything remotely related to handy work.
That’s what Dad always did.
Growing up, when anything needed to be hung, my father would go to the “furnace room” where he kept his prized and oh-so-organized tool collection. He would gather the proper tools, and with instructions from my mother, hang her wall art wherever she instructed. He liked it. He was good at it. He loved his tools.
In 1993 I entered into this marriage with a personal handy-man. My father. (lucky for my husband!) He was Mr. Fix It. The restorer. The designer. The carpenter. With him close by I never needed to hammer anything into these walls. Good thing that was because this old house’s horsehair plaster walls make hanging a picture nothing short of an Olympic feat. Either the walls start to crumble and you end up with a hole more like a crater in the wall, or you are hammering and suddenly hit what feels like a rubber wall. The nail stops advancing, and the hammer comes bouncing back at your face.
Since my father’s passing in October 2010 we’ve had to hire carpenters to work on various projects around the house, and I can not hear the strike of a hammer against a nail without thinking about my father, and how I would love for that person with that hammer to be him. I never thought much about hammers, nails, or tools of any kind until the man who I knew as “king” of all three was gone.
Everything he did for me around my house, he did both skillfully and lovingly. I miss that every time I go to my basement to grab that hammer and try, try again.
Hammering a nail. From mundane to meaningful.