“I Organized My Father’s Tools” Club

If I ever thought my junk drawers were bad, they were Martha-Stewart level pristine compared to my father’s quarter century’s worth of tools, messily shoved into two unorganized plastic tool boxes and one cardboard box – with no systematic approach.

This year on his birthday, he was at a nine-level stress factor, with his sister just entering hospice and him in the midst of helping me with my kitchen and master bath renovation. The large Home Depot plastic orange tool box and one black canvas bag, together with several cardboard boxes were how he transported the tools and how they lived, (albeit temporarily) scattered in my apartment.

The mess was painful for my OCD. The way he searched for a screwdriver was to dump the entire contents of the overpacked bag onto a piece of cardboard on the floor and play as if you’re looking for “Where’s Waldo?”

Growing up, my dad could fix anything and often did. From redoing the wood-paneled basement to building a whole new deck around the pool, he did it all and I was always an eager helper. Only when he summoned me to get him a Phillips-head screwdriver or the clamps or a wrench of one size or another, I always returned with the wrong thing. There were dozens of screwdrivers, double that many wrenches, and enough screws and nails to fill up three inches of the base layer of the toolbox.

I had failed at birthday gifts for years but this year the light bulb was blinking. We would organize his tools for him.

The task wasn’t easy and took almost a dozen hours to sort through hundreds of hardware. It took three pieces of sheetrock to lay it all out for a picture. We headed to Home Depot with a vague plan and ended up purchasing a bag on wheels, a bag with over 47 compartments (complete with two plastic bins with separators for screws), and a unique organizer which hangs over a five-gallon bucket.

My husband deserves a Tool Organization Award for going through every nail, screw, nut, bolt he meticulously organized them their own little see-through plastic boxes. The hardest part was not throwing away half of it. There were dozens of rusted drill bits, old screwdrivers I’m convinced he brought over from Russia, and no fewer than 20 razor blades, in various forms of sharpness. We collected all of the “questionable” items into the old Baskin Robbins plastic container which previously held hundreds of screws.

Today we presented my dad with his gift. We made him sit down on a chair and close his eyes and told him we thought he needed a better way to tote his tools and presented him with the tool trifecta.

He brimmed with joy, a smile spreading across his face and eyes wrinkling at the corners. “These are all my tools?” he said surprised?

“Yes,” I said, “and now you can see them all.”

“This might be the best present I ever got,” he said through that smile.

Gift: well done, daughter; check plus.

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