When my grandparents moved out of their house into assisted living I inherited a number of their household items. None of the things that came my way were of any particular value, just practical household goods. I have, for example, their dining room table and the matching hutch. I have an old cedar blanket chest and some small pieces they’d collected in their travels. I have a host of things from their garden shed and a number of old hand tools. These were items that they had no room to take with them and that the rest of the family didn’t want. I think of them, when I think of them, as good hardworking items that are only important when useful. But the true value of my inheritance comes at those odd times when I do think of these otherwise forgotten things.
Today I was fixing a gate. It was a gate I built with the power tools I’ve collected over the years. But as is often the case here, the elements had done their work on the posts and the hinges and the latch leaving things swinging just a little less tightly than they once had. My cordless electric drill looked after the hinges, but the latch was still uneven and slightly bent from one of the stronger winter wind storms. The gate rubbed on the post too, just enough to be annoying. Fixing it all was not a big job, just one of those tasks that waits for a warm day with nothing else pressing. But as I set to work, I realized that my Grandad was right there along side me puttering away. I know this because I only used tools I’d inherited from him to complete the rest of the job.
The bent latch went into the bench vice that came from the workbench in his garage next to the freezer filled with peach and pear pies, both labelled with ‘P’. The hole in the post where the latch notched was lowered slightly with a keyhole saw from the garden shed just off the driveway where the pavement turned to gravel. The post was trimmed and squared just enough using the hand planer that had done the same to the bird and bat houses scattered around the lush backyard garden. These tools have been plying their trade, unremarked for longer than I’ve been alive, and today once again, they jumped into action. In all honesty, there wasn’t another set of tools in my toolbox that could have done the job as well.
An inheritance isn’t always about receiving something when someone passes on. The value for me came in knowing these things intimately where they came from and honouring what they were put here to do. Today, like most every day, I rejoiced in my real inheritance, the memories I have of my Grandparents and the house I still think of as theirs. Today I know my Granddad stood beside me as I worked and hummed happily as a little more order was put back into the world.