I don’t fix things. I occasionally fix people but I rarely fix things. Broken things scare me. I see in them a multitude of potential injuries. Lacerated fingers, broken bones and lost vision are just one misstep away.
I learned this lesson the hard way shortly after I started practice. Our home needed a new roof and we did not have the money to have it replaced. My father-in-law (who I always called “Pops”) assured me that we could do it ourselves. We decided that I could pay someone to tear off the old roof and then do the remainder of the work on our own. The day before we were to start Pops cut off about a third of his thumb tip on a table saw. He showed up to work anyway. He clearly was in pain as the sound of every third or fourth hammer strike was punctuated with a loud “Ow.”
In the mornings I went to the office and in the afternoons and evenings I worked on the roof. With the old roof off I learned to walk carefully and put my feet where the slats joined the rafters so I would not fall. This worked wonderfully until Pops moved one of the slats. There was nothing but air where I put my foot. Down I went. My descent was halted by my groin striking a rafter, unfortunately not before our master bathroom had developed a foot shaped skylight.
Lisa ran into the bathroom to see what had caused the noise and discovered my foot hanging out of the ceiling. She laughed so hard she nearly did in her pants what people usually do in the master bathroom.
Pops patched the hole and we eventually finished the roof. I was left with the confidence that Pops could fix anything but that I was simply dangerous.
Pops died 9 years ago and I have been left on my own. I think of him every time something breaks. I find myself wondering, “What would Pops do?” I have started to do more and more on my own. Each small job usually involves several mistakes and a number of bumps bruises and scrapes. Each success brings the satisfaction of knowing that he would be proud of me, not only because I succeeded, but because I tried.
I have also learned that the scrapes, bumps, bruises, cut off thumb tips and foot shaped skylights have value as well. Each brings with it a lesson and a memory. Pops had a remarkable collection of nicks and scars and he was one of the wisest men I have ever met. I think he was on to something.