"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Friday, May 13, 2011

Mr. Fix-It Man

The shirt draped over the fence for months, its color fading in the sunlight. As summer turned to fall, rain saturated the nondescript hue. Seasons changed, and the garment stuck like glue to the wood. After a year passed, the jokes began. “Hey dad, how long is your shirt going to stay on the fence?” Dad smirked along with us but didn’t remove the shirt. Through our kitchen window, we watched the fence begin to bend backwards like a person doing the limbo. It leaned until it broke, the shirt falling with it.
We reminisce about those days when my siblings and I reunite, remembering kitchen cupboards with no doors because dad was repainting them—for months! When we put our house on the market, it sold with doorless cabinets displaying pots and pans, Tupperware, and canned goods. We had nothing to hide. When Dad showed the house, he liked to pontificate his future plans for renovation. “Yeah, if we lived here much longer, I was gonna knock out this wall and extend this room.” The first time we had heard of such plans, we looked at each other with raised eyebrows and question marks, stifling giggles.
It’s not that Dad wasn’t a Mr. Fix-It Man; he was just too busy to complete the projects he began. Holding down a full-time job and being a full-time parent to three children kept him too pooped to even pick his shirt off the leaning fence. Taking kitchen doors off the cabinets took a fraction of the time it required to paint and put them back on. Consequently, projects remained unfinished.
I guess he was just too busy being a dad, coaching our basketball teams, attending our band and choir concerts, watching t-ball, volleyball and softball games, participating in daddy-daughter events and making pinewood derby cars with his son.  Dad was the resident math homework expert and specialized in story problems which were my weak subject. He quickly became impatient with my confusion and almost shouted the problem. He seemed to think that the louder he read it, the more likely my brain would compute it.  This rarely, if ever, worked.
Thirty years later, some things don’t change. My mom tells me that for almost a year, a cabinet door has been awaiting proper placement.  Eventually, Dad will attach it, but it’ll be in his own timing. I married a guy just like that.  He’s a fix-it-guy just like my dad, but he’s primarily a provider and a participating parent. 
Several months ago, the canned lights in our bookshelf burn out. Hubby drives immediately to Lowe’s to purchase the products he needs to fix them. However, he soon determines that he needs something different to repair the lights which requires another trip to Lowe’s. The box of lights sit on the shelves for a month, then two, then three. I ask about the lights. “Hey, when do you think you’re going to fix those?” He doesn’t have time right then. I move the eye sore behind closed doors. Every so often, I ask about the lights—nicely, of course. He moves them back in his line of sight to remind him of a project still unfinished.
Other things seem to claim his attention: choir concerts, gymnastics meets, school carnivals, National Honor Society inductions, piano recitals, game nights with family. Meanwhile, the package sits, longing for the attention he’s giving to everyone else.
After months of no progress with the lights, I jokingly ask, “How long do you think those are going to sit there? I’m kind of tired of them sitting on that shelf.” I don’t understand why he doesn’t appreciate my comment. More days go by until one weekday evening, at 9:30 pm to be exact, hubby heads to the garage returning with the ladder. He sets it up and fiddles with some cords on top of the bookshelf, casually commenting on the exorbitant amount of dust accruing there.
 “Hey, maybe while this ladder’s up, you could dust up here.” Ahhh, hubby enjoys adding to my list as I do his!
I ask, “Why are you working on this project NOW? It’s 9:30!”  He climbs down and states he’s going to bed. I follow. The next morning, I notice the ladder is still set up in the middle of the living room.
When hubby awakes that morning and enters the bathroom, I smile mischievously. “So, how long do you think the ladder is going to stay in the living room? Until the lights are fixed?!” Two long work days later, he folds the ladder up and sets it against the wall. Judging by past history, I believe it’s going to be there for awhile…  
If the worst fault these men in my life have is failing to finish projects around the house, we’ll cite them for a few counts of procrastination and let them off for spending time with their active children.  After all, relationships are built over days, months and years and can last forever. And the fence, the cabinets and the lights? Well, those can be repaired any old time. “Lord, just give me a little more patience in the meantime…”

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