from Reflections on a Life, writings and paintings for my father
My dad was a typewriter repairman. He was a great mechanic. He could take a machine apart, put it back together, and make it work. He used to help me fix things over the phone. He’d say, “You see where there are four wires coming in, red, black, green, and yellow? Just to the left of that, there should be a screw. Loosen it . . .” I’d blindly follow his instructions and whatever I had in front of me would magically become repaired. He used to tell me that if I took anything apart, I should line up all the pieces as I removed them so I’d know the order when I replaced them. He used to say, “You don’t want any parts left over.” I generally have parts left over.
A couple of times I joked, “What am I going to do when you die? None of my appliances will work.” And even though he was a humorous man, he didn’t think this was funny. So I gave it up. But I did wonder what I would do without him. The first time I had car trouble after his death, I did what I always do: I took the car to my mechanics. But I wanted to call him first and ask him what he thought was wrong, like I used to. I missed him. But now, anytime I repair a small appliance, I remember him. He’s part of me. And I have a sweetness toward these projects like never before.
An earlier version of this writing and the above painting were part of an exhibit honoring my father shortly after his death.