Monday, April 24, 2006

Fathers of Fathers

There are days I miss my dad. Don’t let that statement mislead you; he’s not passed on, he just lives over 600 miles away. Last year, he retired and spends most of his days just puttering around the house. He’s got amazing skills and I had hoped that the neighborhood hardware store might have scooped him up, but no such luck. My mom has turned him into one of those eastern Europeans servants who think they are working towards their freedom and instead become a domestic serf for the rest of their lives until 60 Minutes does a story on them and sets everyone free.

It wasn’t until I became a homeowner that I really appreciated my dad’s skills. He can fix anything. When I was younger, I’d often help him around the house as he took on plumbing or electrical tasks. Nothing fazed him. If he didn’t know how to fix it, he’d grab his books and learn.

One time he walked me through the process of installing a toilet in my basement…all over the phone!

He has patience, which turns out to be a trait that was not passed down to me. I prefer things to work the first time. If they don’t, I easily give up and walk away… only to return about 30 minutes later because I’ve already put money and time into the task. Plus I hate not being able to accomplish something.

This weekend, I continued the project of building cabinets and shelves in Corey’s room. Last weekend, I began with the cabinets, which turned out to be harder than I anticipated. Corey’s room has eaves that were all opened to accommodate the air-conditioning ducts that went in years ago. The eaves, like the rest of the room, have been a dumping ground for junk. But in realizing that each kid needs a place of their own, the room was converted into the toddler’s dream.

However, with the eaves still uncovered, I knew something would have to be built so the room looked more complete. Last weekend, I went to Home Depot and bought some prefab cabinets. With a lot of jury-rigging and inverting the cabinets, I was able to get two of them placed in 6 hours. Yeah, 6 hours! Hardest thing I’d have ever done… until this weekend.

The shelves sucked. This time, I didn’t have a pre-fab kit to work with. Instead, there was a lot of guessing with measurements since the opening hadn’t been carved out to scale. Nothing was uniform. My top board might measure 30” but the bottom would be 29.5”. Each board was cut and then cut again, probably as many as 6 times. Twice I threw boards into the garbage because I was so angry. And each time I would fish them out again because I had no desire to drive all the way to Home Depot again.

About mid-way through the project, I nearly burst into tears as I realized there was no way to hook on the back panels of the shelves. Again, the entire project nearly ended up for the junk man to retrieve.

But instead, I sat down and calmly reevaluated the situation. (No seriously… I was calm.) Instead of panicking, I wondered to myself what my dad would do. And about 10 minutes later, I got up and just did it.

The shelves turned out beautiful.

But I still miss my dad.


Anonymous Christine said...

It looks great! And an added "awww" about missing your dad =)

3:15 PM  
Blogger Bacchus said...

Great job. My partner and I differ on DIY. I have the ambition but no aptitude, he knows how to do it but has no desire. So between us we get a lot of nothing done.

I know what you mean about missing your parents. My mom was just here for a visit and left yesterday. I wished she lived closer. My dad is now on the west coast so I need to find time to get a visit in with him.

12:17 AM  
Anonymous ShotgunDaddy said...

Like your dad, my dad could fix anything, and he always wanted me to help out so that I could learn, but I was never interested. And so now, whenever something goes wrong around the house -- which is only once a week or so -- I find myself wondering why I couldn't have at least paid attention while I was holding the flashlight instead of hanging out with my friends that night when my dad was fixing the dishwasher.

And then I wonder what the hell I'll have to teach my son. Perhaps how to use a phonebook and a charge card.

3:35 AM  
Anonymous samantha said...

I'm here from blogfathers and loved your post! And it looks fabulous might I add. Since it was so hard AND it was for your son, every time you look at it I'm sure your chest will swell with pride.

I have a few things that need to built and/or installed over here in Chicago. . .:-)

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Pete said...

The Blogfathers sent me over to check out your blog. Loved the post today. At first I swore you talking about my dad...and yes I have used the technique you discovered. It's not WWJD, it's WWDD and it works almost ever time. If not...well that's what telephones are for.

10:53 PM  

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