Thomas Deachman Mills
December 5, 1924- March 17, 2015
My father was one of the most organized men I ever knew. His shop was always Just So, and Must Be Left in Perfect Condition or ELSE. He swept it nightly even if he hadn't been doing much. His tools were always hanging in perfect order on the wall. He could tell at a glance what was missing and he would FOR SURE find out who was doing what; they would get a scolding about they were HIS tools and one should not JUST TAKE THEM. Always ASK. Sometimes HE was the one who had misplaced it; but we really wouldn't get an apology if wrongly accused. He would just wink and tell us it had been found.
Anyway. He had it in the shop. Each section was sorted into different sizes and it was sometimes my job to sort a bucket of assorted nuts and bolts into this spinning contraption. At the time it would have made a good punishment because I just hated doing it. I am more the kind to have a drawer full of the stuff and have to search when I need something.
He also had a row of cans on a shelf with an assortment of things he might need; hog rings, fence tension bars, small hinges and braces, and many of Those Things I have no idea about. Each can (tobacco cans, coffee cans, Crisco cans back when they were metal) was Labeled Properly. I remember a day when he had me mark each one because he said I had such good handwriting.
But way down at the end was a special can. He had taken the handle from an old coffee carafe and attached it to a can. It contained a very random assortment. It's the only one I saved from that row of cans because it said volumes to me. Even though he often insisted upon perfection, He knew all my cans would be like this one. So this can makes me smile. There are some things I recognize in here but some I have No Idea.
As I get older, I get more like my dad, with all my little containers Properly Labeled. I take comfort in being orderly. I can see how calming it is to carve some kind of order from the chaos of life. I don't have rows of nuts and bolts, mine are more crafty: crayons, felt pens, watercolor trays, chalk pastels... and notebooks full of stencils, masks, screen printing screens, and rubber stamps.
Missing you today, Dad. Father's Day is coming up and even though you aren't here to celebrate, I will honor you. I'm so glad you were my father. I learned much from you. Life can't be expected to be Orderly and Peaceful, but we can learn to see and be the best in every situation. On one of the last days of his life, he told me he had figured out why he was still here. He said, "I understand what I am supposed to be doing now." I asked him what. "I'm supposed to brighten the corner where I am."
And he certainly did. He made people smile at the worst of times. He sang "Show me the Way To Go Home" in pig latin almost to the end (as goofy as that is, it was kind of a symbol of our relationship... we spoke often in pig latin. By the last day I couldn't sing it any more. It became showing him the way to a different Home... and I just got too choked up. Haven't been able to sing it all the way through since!)
He always had kind words in the midst of his misery. He made friends with every nurse and aide and had many telling him their troubles and their life stories. He was just that kind of man.
I had the honor of being with him those last few days. We spoke of Heaven, and of letting our bodies go. He asked me what I should do. I told him his body was just wearing out. We talked about Mom and I taking care of each other. I didn't get to be there when he died, he waited until no one was with him. But I got to say goodbye, and I will always be thankful for that.
What's this? I have no idea. But it will stay in the 2 Lazy 2 Sort can at least until one of my kids says, "what on earth did Mom keep this stuff for??" and it will get tossed into the dump heap.
As my father would say, It's a thing that screws on to the doomaflatchy and holds up the whatchamadoodle. Doesn't everyone know that?