I made a New Year’s resolution, probably for the first time in decades.

My resolution was to visit my mother more often. She lives about an hour away and I always seem to have an abundance of reasons for not going. Indifference was the real reason and that had to change. I decided it would motivate me more if I had a project that I could work on whenever I went to visit. The project I decided on was to clean out my father’s workshop. He died about 10 years ago and the room, really just a walk-in closet in their condo, has had little attention since then. This week I began that process. Mom sat just outside the door of the space while I reviewed things with her to ensure I didn’t throw out anything important. It’s going to be a long-term project. That space isn’t very large, but it’s packed.

As I sorted through things, I encountered tools and other miscellaneous objects I recognized that had been moved from the workshop in the house I grew up in. It brought back many, many memories and gave me a chance to reflect on my my father.

Dad was incredibly creative, a tinkerer, a handyman and a saver. Perhaps it was his upbringing in a working class family during the Depression, but he could make use out of the most unlikely things. He worked for the same screen printing company his entire life in Toronto and parts of our house were painted with leftover printing inks and paneled with leftover signboard. He could make something from nothing, like a wood lathe from an old washing machine motor and scrap metal, so he could make something for the house. He subscribed to Popular Mechanix and half of the furniture and fixtures of our house were built from plans he found in its issues. Through most of my childhood, our car was a 1958 Plymouth Plaza. It was a lemon. But that car never saw a mechanic. Dad did all the repairs himself. He even replaced the rusted bodywork with scrap metal sheeting, a pop rivet gun and body filler. To me this was normal. Every dad could do that, right?

Dad was also a servant-leader. At church he was, for years, the “head usher” (I’m now the welcome co-ordinator at my church. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…), a member of the board and helped with whatever needed doing, whether it was painting scenery for the Christmas pageant or fixing the plumbing. But in everything, he did it simply because it needed to be done.

It wasn’t until much later that I found out that Dad was a promising artist in high school. I’ve seen sketches he did in high school and they are amazing. Unfortunately, he had to leave school early in order to support his family when his father took ill and his chance to go to art school was never realized.

My father was a man of incredible patience and supported his entire family, whatever their dreams. I wish I had half the patience he had when raising my own children.

As I get older, I frequently catch myself in a manerism or activity I saw my father do. Eerie. But I’m so grateful for what I have inherited from him: Creativity and (some) patience. I wish I were more of a hands-on person like him, but, let’s not be greedy. I’m grateful for what he has given me.

All this from a New Year’s resolution.