What My Pink Toolbox Taught Me

Written By: Kim - Jun• 19•11

I was a lucky kid. I grew up in a family with loving parents. Sometimes our traditional family meant a single-parent family. Dad was in the US Army and deployed to Vietnam twice, Germany, Korea and Thailand once each. During those long stretches of time, Mom would hold down the fort. She was excellent at doing this despite the challenges. But this is not a post about Mom.

My Dad could fix anything. His childhood fascination with car motors translated in to helicopter maintenance for the Army that lead to his ability to fix many things around the house. He took his interest in cars a step further: Dad restored old trucks and cars during his free time.

Emory C. Wickline & me, 1970

Dad taught me how to drive on a clutch. He would take me to a hill and we stayed there until I could successfully move the car from neutral without stalling it. I can still hear him calmly say: “Ease up on the clutch and press on the gas.” I only hope I can be as calm as he was if my kids ask me to teach them to drive. Too bad he wasn’t as calm when I broke my left wrist riding my skateboard. He was so nervous, Mom had to drive me to the hospital.

My Dad also taught me how to check the oil in my car and the tire pressure; how to change a tire; use a hammer, what the difference was between a Philips screwdriver and a flat tip; what monkey wrenches were for; and where the fuse box is located.  But most all, he taught me to be independent and strong.

My first toolkit, courtesy of my Dad.

I am sure he must have looked kind of silly buying me my first tool kit — in pink. But, over 20 years after I moved out, it’s still in my laundry room with quick tools we might need. I think of him every time I access it and my husband chuckles every time he sees it. Pink indeed.

More than the logistics of basic car knowledge and tool use, my Dad became my benchmark for men. I compared all of them to him. Did they love their Moms? How did they treat their sisters? Were the handy? Smart? Caring? Loving? Dependable? Supportive? Did he have moxie? Was he patriotic? Does he give back to his community? What kind of animal lover was he? Did he cry when his family dog died? Did he want children? How loyal and faithful would he be? My future husband’s shoes were big to fill and I am lucky to have found the man to fill them.

So to all the Dads out there, I say thank you and Happy Father’s Day. Anyone can father a child, but it takes a special man to be a Dad. We love you.


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