The memory of tools


My husband is working to remove the rust on his father’s tools.  Gently with vinegar.  And maybe more than taking away, he is revealing the memories they hold.  I believe they hold.  Most of the things built are long gone.  But the memories are there.  They say we humans have a muscle memory.  I think it transfers to the tools we use.
I got a pair of used brushes in Brittany.  They easily became my favorites.  They held on to the paint, and just as easily let it go, like they knew the drill.  It wasn’t their first time.  They had been asked to release the painting again and again.  My hands were familiar, and new.  What a comfort to be welcomed by a past, and allowed to create a future.

Just as the canvas breathes old and new, so does the violin held with new hands.  The piano.  The hammer.  We create new by knowing what has come before.  We study the paintings and the notes and carpentry.  These are not objects, but lives.

I never met my husband’s father or grandfather.  But I have held the tools that they touched.  That my husband has held.  And I know their hands.  And I know the strength.  I know the character.  I know the lives.  As the smell of vinegar dissipates, the tools come to life.  Ready.  Willing.  Knowing. Soon the smell of cut wood will take over.  The garage’s equivalent of spring.  And the imprint of my husband’s hands will gather in the memories. (And one day visit Charles).

We are all building.  Hoping that someday, someone will stand in front of that painting.  Dance in that melody.  Grab hold that hammer and know that you held it, built something, before and for, if for nothing else than to hold the hand of the future.  To hold that smooth hand of youth and say, “I’m here, with you.  It’s OK.  Go on…”


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