The spiral of remembering continues, fondly and sweetly.

A happy event just after father’s day: my brother and his wife moved into their new home, rebuilt after their place was destroyed by fire 8 years ago. The ups and downs of insurance, contractors, builders, shifting city rules, and the surprises of life have made it quite a ride, and a triumph to have endured and overcome.

They had been living in my dad and stepmom’s place, so this also brings to a close — another close? — the story of our parents on this earth. It wasn’t the house I grew up in, so I didn’t expect it to feel like a big milestone. I thought I’d pretty much wrapped those up the goodbyes when our folks moved into an apartment; when he didn’t always recognize me; when dad moved to memory care; when he died, then she died. When we scattered his ashes by the bay. When we celebrated their lives with Austin friends.

But of course the mistake is thinking there’s an end, when life is a spiral. Closing up that house, just the news of it from afar, brought the reality of all the closures back to mind. All of it is now gone: those tools clogging the garage, every clever hack around the house, from the repurposed laundry soap container to the special shelving for the kitchen knickknacks. The soap system in the guest bathroom. The weirdly specific garbage and recycling plan that I could never get a handle on. I think of all that loving energy spent getting the silicone caulk in the right place and dried before somebody stepped on it.

It was dad’s preoccupation to make life easier to deal with. And now his work is done. Or I should say it’s been done for awhile, but I am letting it sink in that it’s really done.

In a funny piece about the gear dads are defining themselves with, The Dad Canon (Circa Now), Joseph Bernstein says that while a lot of the dad gear he remembers from growing up seems “dated, or goofy, or vestigial, or naive,” being a dad has softened his view of dad stuff. “After all, our dads were responding to the same essential dad conflict we are: the tension between giving your life over to the needs of your family and keeping enough mental space for yourself to stay sane.”

My dad would say it was all for the family. For efficiency and easy. Which it was, though my dad’s preoccupations were also his refuge. Tinkering, fixing, and making lists for things to be further optimized kept his identity as an engineer firmly in place.

My brother, my stepbrother, and I all have bits of that legacy with us of course. The lamp from a grandma, the trinket from their trips, the staple remover. I wish I had more to unstaple these days; it still works really well, pulling out those little suckers, leaving the paper unruffled and pristine, just two small dots where the tiny wire held the stack together.