Finding what was never lost

Tools of the Father

It’s the sort of tool you never think about until till you need it, then nothing else will do. I had to pull muffler off my BMW GS to finish one of those 15-minute projects that burns up an entire Saturday morning. The only thing holding me up are two very determined looking springs. No problem. Whip out the spring puller. The one my dad made for me after busting his knuckles trying to remove the two equally determined springs securing holding the expansion chamber to the cylinder of my 72 Yamaha AT2-M many moons ago. It wasn’t where it should have been, but I’ve been famously, unimaginably bad at putting tools away for decades. Dad always said I was planting his Craftsman metric sockets in hopes of harvesting a set of my own in the spring. That bit never seemed funny then, and I sure wasn’t laughing now.When it wasn’t in the second place it should have been, I started getting scared. What if it was in the box of track tools some budding felon rolled out of the garage on a similar Saturday last February? This isn’t the sort of tool you can buy. My dad made it. For me. He’s gone now, probably putting a speed handle right back where he found it in God’s Snap-On rollaway, looking down and rolling his eyes. But I’ve got to find this thing. Angst and white-hot anger were doing bad things in the pit of my stomach.

The simple arrangement of tack-welded wire was in the fourth place I looked, hiding in a corner of the ancient Craftsman box once used by its maker. The rest of the job went smoothly, and I spent the rest of that Saturday picking up a few bits at Sears to restore order in the old box. There were other things I could have been doing, but none of them mattered. The more I think about it, the more that sad little spring puller is just like my father: indispensable, and never really far away when you need him.