The Slice: Cherished possessions can build memories

I needed a hammer, so I went downstairs to get one.

I could have saved myself the trip. There’s one upstairs. It’s on a bookshelf, just to the left of a window looking out on a maple tree.

But I never use that one.

It belonged to my older brother, who was a carpenter. The wooden handle is smooth but not slippery. The metal head and claw are silvery and shiny. It’s surprisingly light.

After John died in the fall of 2000, my sister-in-law gave it to me. She said it was one of his favorite possessions.

Seems like a long time ago. After the memorial service, I actually thought it would be OK to have it in my carry-on bag as I prepared to board my flight home from Denver. It wasn’t. My sister-in-law had to mail it to Spokane.

A year later, no one would have considered trying to board with it. Things change.

Anyway, I didn’t set out to treat it like some relic in a shrine. I just never used it, at least not that I can remember. And over the years, well, it sort of lost its identity as a tool.

Maybe I was reluctant to use it because being in my unskilled hands would be akin to an insult. Or maybe it seemed wrong to treat it like any old hammer.

Then, of course, there’s the simple fact that I don’t really do all that much nail-driving. I’m more of a keyboard guy.

But the other night, after going down to the basement to find another hammer, I started wondering. How many others around here own tools that they hold in such high regard that they never actually use them?

Surely I am not alone.

I know. It’s a hammer. It has a purpose.

It’s a funny thing, though. I’ve had it for 10 years. And yet I still don’t think of it as belonging to me.

Today’s Slice question: Do you have a tool that has special significance?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; fax (509) 459-5098; e-mail pault@spokesman.com. For previous Slice columns, see www.spokesman.com/ columnists. How many Spokane area garages are just like Clint Eastwood’s in “Gran Torino”?

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