My husband is a do-it-yourself person. Few home-related projects exist that he will not tackle.
We moved nine years ago from a house we lived in for over 30 years. Both our children were born and grew up while we lived there. Leaving behind thousands of good memories was hard.
Dan pulled and/or dug up dozens of overgrown shrubs and bushes on that property. He then planted, pruned, fertilized and otherwise cared for new ones. He put a new roof on the house.
He replaced a water heater and well pump, painted and/or wallpapered every wall inside the house several times, and fixed toilets. He replaced floors and laid carpet and laminate flooring. He hung ceiling lights and fans.
He redesigned closets and built numberless shelves and cabinets. Whenever a thing broke, he fixed it himself.
He replaced a washer, dryer, refrigerator, well pump, and even an old oven that quit working the night before Thanksgiving.
He assembled bikes, skateboards, scooters, and basketball goals. He built trellises and flower boxes and landscaped the entire yard more than once. He unloaded tons of crushed stone. He planted and tended big gardens.
He single-handedly hung drywall on the garage ceiling.
Over the years, we made additions to our property several times: added a family room and a screened-in back porch and built a large two-car-plus size garage. We converted our old garage into a game room.
Dan did 90% of the work himself. (Dan says I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.)
Through trial and error, he became an experienced plumber, electrician, painter, drywall hanger, landscape artist, appliance repairman, carpenter, roofer, screener, and mechanic.
Dan resisted paying experts to do any of the work. When he did, he asked the workers to leave unfinished work he could do himself.
Dan accomplished these projects and dozens more while working as a full-time pharmacist.
We have now lived in our “new” house for nine years. Dan has completed the same tasks on this property.
Yesterday, I drove home to find him working at the back of our yard. Bushes, trees, briars, brambles, weeds, fallen branches, and every other growing thing shrouded him.
He emerged from his trimming, pulling, and chopping tasks, bleeding from many cuts and scrapes. Sweat soaked his shirt.
I studied this now 60-something-year-old man, and once again I marveled at his dogged determination to care for our property.
This man must start paying people to do this work, I thought.
“Dan,” I said to him, “Don’t you know we are on our way out?”
“What do you mean?” he said.
“We are both 65+ years old. God does not guarantee us one more day. We will not see many more years.”
“So, it’s time for you to stop pushing your body so hard. No one will be critical of you if you work less.”
“You’ve more than established that you are not lazy. You have met the enemies (weeds, faulty wiring, leaky roofs, outdated home décor, worn out appliances, and cracked drywall) and mastered each one.”
“How am I supposed to defeat those enemies if I don’t do it myself?”
His question thrilled me. It gave me an opportunity to remind him of one of my favorite Andy Griffith episodes, Bargain Day.
Here is a summary.
Aunt Bea bought a side of beef from a discount butcher shop. After she got it home, her freezer stopped working. She was desperate to freeze her meat. Instead of calling a repairman to fix the freezer, she devised every crazy solution to her problem that only Mayberry residents can conceive.
She finally had to confess her folly to Andy, who told her to call the repairman.
Ever frugal, she refused.
With more force, Andy repeated, “Call the man!”
So, to answer Dan’s question about defeating homeowner enemies, I said, “Call someone to do the hard work. Then pay whatever he charges.”
“That’ll cost a fortune!”
“Call the man.”
“It is ridiculous to pay someone to do things I can do myself.”
“Call the man!”
“I’ll wait forever for someone to come.”
“Call the man!!”
“We’ll destroy our retirement savings!”
“Call the man!!!” I said. “Remember we’re on our way out.”
“CALL THE MAN!”