…the Ultimate “Do-It-Yourselfer
One of the things that stands out the most about my dad is that he is the ultimate “do-it-yourselfer.” If the house needed painting or the gutters needed cleaning, dad was up there on a 2-story ladder doing the job. If something was wrong with the septic, we could find him underground. This was so common place for me that I thought that all dads did this. It wasn’t until after college when I brought my fiancé to my parents’ house that I realized that my dad was unusual in this regard. My dad was climbing out of the attic space with bee hive spray, a fogger of sorts, and was decked out in long sleeved shirt and pants which were duct taped to his ankles and wrists to keep bees from flying in. He was also wearing some sort of mesh fabric
to cover his face and handsâ€”as though this thin layer would magically insulate him from the onslaught of angry bees. Somehow he managed to get several hives demolished without even getting stung once. I saw him and said â€œHi dad.â€? My future husband just stood there with his jaw hanging open in disbelief. That is when I first realized that my dad was unusual in this way.
As I’m saying this, I am realizing that even though he is now 80 years old, he is still up to his ‘Do- it- Yourself’ antics. In a recent example, my parents were visiting a family grave a few weeks ago. My mother noticed that a birdhouse had fallen off a nearby tree. After placing the birdhouse near the base of the tree, she mentioned it to my father. Walking home, she turned to say something to my dad. He wasn’t there. She turned back toward the cemetery. She still could not see him. Then she walked back toward where she placed the birdhouse on the ground. She looked up from that spot, and finally saw him perched precariously high in the tree placing the birdhouse back on the branch from which it came.
Even on vacation, when most people have a need to relax my dad still feels a need to â€˜fix things up.â€™ I called him last month as he was vacationing in Arizona. After telling me about his golf game that day (18 holes--no cart) he proceeded to tell me how he bought a power washer, lugged it up to the top roof top, and started sealing the roof of the Arizona house.
His “Do it yourself” attitude didn’t just extend to fix-it jobs around the house. The ultimate example of his ‘do -it -yourself’ attitude was back when I was in the 4th grade and was finally old enough to join the band. I was so excited to learn how to play the flute! I had my first couple of lessons. However, my next lessons were interrupted because our family was leaving for a two week trip. When I returned from vacation and went to my next lesson, my band teacher told me that I missed too many crucial lessons, and there would be no way he could catch me up. I would have to withdraw from band. I was devastated. My dad came to pick me up from the lesson and asked me what I was upset about. I filled him what the band teacher had said.
“But you only missed two weeks!” my dad said. “Anyway--I’ll catch you up.” I assumed he was joking, because my father never took a music lesson in his life. He didn’t know a crescendo from a croissant. When we got home, he said, “Let’s see that book.” With tears in my eyes, I handed him the “Learn How to Play Flute” book. He examined the pages like he would a study manual on maintaining a car engine. “Well look at this!” he said, “It looks like where the picture is shaded in black, it means to press down the key, but if it is not
shaded in don’t press it down.” He demonstrated awkwardly with his fingers pressing the keys on my flute. “And I assume because you play piano, you know that these things are,” he said, pointing at the measures of notes. Then handed my flute back to me, saying, “There is no reason you cannot teach yourself this and catch up by next week. If you want to be in the band, you’ll have to do it yourself.”
He was right. I returned to lessons the next week to the incredulous look of my band teacher and proved that I was
caught up. When my band teacher asked how I learned it, I told him it was my dad. “I didn’t realize that your dad is musical,” he said. “He isn’t,” I replied. I didn’t feel a need to explain, but I was beaming with pride. Not at myself, but for my father, the ultimate do-it-yourselfer.