A Workbench Like His

Losing a loved one, regardless of the cause, requires a proper shedding of old.  We hold onto old trinkets and some of us hold onto old wardrobes.  We fear by letting go of these possessions we are somehow welcoming the loss and forgetting the person that made the loss so great.  I am no different. I am a survivor of loss.  And though I have shed much of the old, in my fear, but more importantly in my love, I have stored away trinkets. 
Every inch of his workbench, and each surrounding inch, was covered in tools, hardware, contraptions, and junk (at least to the untrained eye).   He kept a cabinet and tool chest nearby, and they too were filled to capacity.  My dad spent hours at that bench tinkering, sorting, repairing, and creating.  His hands were always coated in a film of grease, dirt, and sometimes even his own blood.  My dad’s hands impressed me, especially as a child; wide and powerful, yet nimble enough to fit together the smallest mechanical pieces. 
Until a few days ago, I left my dad’s workbench untouched. I couldn’t put names to majority of the objects found there, and I didn’t know if I’d have the courage to upset the altar of his resourcefulness.  Nonetheless, I began to sort and discard.   At first I was careful about keeping my hands clean, or at least as clean as could be managed.  But as I recognized the futility of my efforts, I allowed the grease to stain my fingers and the dirt to collect under my nails. 
The sheer volume of screws, bolts, nails, and washers became a daunting Everest.  The shelves where they were stored bowed under their weight.  Because my dad saved so much under the guise of practicality, I tried my best to be objective in my task, but there’s nothing objective about working in a space so encased in memories.  

It started with a large, hexagonal washer.  The symmetry and unusual weight of the washer tempted me, and it soon found in home in my pocket.  Before I gave much thought, a keychain, a perfectly untouched nail, and a few other odds and ends neighbored that washer inside my pocket.
After I finished, I went to my parents’ laundry room and reached for my dad’s abrasive, citric-scented soap.  My hands have never been dainty or delicate, and I’ve always seen them as flawed, but as I scrubbed my short, flat nails and the heavy creases in my palms I saw my dad’s hands in my own.  Smaller versions perhaps, but they were his.
So a few washers, a three inch carpenter’s nail, and a greasy key chain were empowered as the talismans for my father’s magic.  Void of hocus pocus or abracadabra, he instead mastered the magic of ingenuity and parenthood.