Sunday, March 4, 2012

Dad. A Short Memorial.

Wayne M. Collins
If you knew my father, Wayne Milton Collins, you know what a unique individual he was. Quite indescribable actually -- so those of us that knew him seldom try to explain his nature. It's impossible.

But there are a few, small things that we can say about him. For instance, he like to play guitar and he liked to solder things.

He liked to solder lots of things.

Usually on the kitchen counter or kitchen table.

It drove my mom nuts.

When my dad died in September 2002, he was destitute. He had nothing but a carton of cigarettes and the clothes on his back, but before his final day, I had a chance to raid his meager lot of possessions. I took a few tools, a blood pressure tester, and a gun.

It would be interesting to see what Dad would think of today's world and technology. I am quite certain he would be amused and impressed by the iPad, but I also believe he'd think he could one-up Jobs' wonderpad and would probably make his own from a 19" color Sylvania, an Etch-a-Sketch, some wire, solder and electrical tape. "Why spend the money, Mike? I'll make you one just as good at one-tenth the price!" he'd say. And I bet it would work too, it would just be a little embarrassing hauling it into my local Starbucks.

Today's Project with Dad's Wire Snips

Today, I found myself assembling a wire harness to install a car stereo in our SUV. I got out the required tools: wire snips, solder, soldering iron, wet sponge, electrical tape, and, of course, a kitchen counter. As I stood there squinting to study and hold the soldering iron tip to the freshly stripped wires, I could see out of my center of focus a tool that I had at the ready: Dad's wire snips. Yellow-handled, they still bore the stains of his always black-epoxy covered finger tips. The memory flashback was intense. I could see him standing there doing the exact same thing. The only difference between the way I was standing at the counter and he'd stand at the counter was that he would have a cigarette dangling from his lips (he never did not have a cigarette dangling from his lips and that's what ultimately did him in too). Next to Dad's thumb, I think these snips were his most used digit.

Later this year will be the 10th anniversary of my father's passing. I'm sure if he were around today he'd be proud of his daughters and over the moon about his grandchildren. I am sure they would have tickled him pink. And sadly, they'll never get to see what an interesting fellow he was. I guess that's where I come in -- it'll be up to me pass on his good qualities, sense of humor and love of a good tune. These are things I remember and cherish the most.

Maybe I'll even teach them how to solder.

And Dad, if you're able to read this, remember, there's two things you are never supposed to discuss in heaven: politics and religion. Now stop it! ;)


  1. I have no doubt that your dad's reading this in Heaven...while he solders something cool for the angels.

    Thanks for the lump in my throat. So sweet...and I bet he'd be proud of you too. How couldn't he?

  2. It is always so wonderful to have those moments that are so strong they bring us back our loved ones, if only for a few seconds. I have no doubt that your dad was, is, and will continue to be so proud of you. And you will do a great job of keeping his memory alive through that next, tiny generation. :)

  3. Gosh, Mike, that picture of your dad is very, very reminiscent of you! Loved ones come back in bits and pieces. He's watching and helping you make him come alive for the younger ones. Love this blog post.

    1. Thanks Mare. It was written on the fly with little planning involved. It just hit me as I was standing their soldering!

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