Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What Doesn't Kill Ya' -Makes Ya' Stronger

Helping my husband insulate the attic
last weekend reminded me of
years ago when we tackled a
similar project.
The following is a column I wrote
for The Register News, August 27, 2005.

If my husband was a doctor, I'd be the person
wiping his sweaty brow or handing him
the scalpel.
If he was a race car driver, I'd be the person
on pit row changing his tires
or fueling his car.
If he was a magician, I'd be holding the
magic hat or be stuffed inside the wooden box
that he was cutting in half.
For the most part, I have been my husband's
companion, assistant, guinea pig and gopher.

Therefore, I hesitate when I need jobs
done around the house.
Because I will always be required
to shadow him every minute,
find lost tools,
drive miles to town for a wing nut,
or asked to hold still while
a hammer or hatchet
is in the vicinity of my fingers.

Years ago, I wasn't so quiet about things-
(before I wised up).
I complained loudly that the house needed
insulation or the water pump was
on the blink or repairs needed done.

And, unfortunately, my husband listened.

That set us off into a Twilight Zone of
handy man projects that seemed
to have no end.

One project I remember most
is the time we insulated the attic...

The old house we bought had an
overhang above the porch and
the space was too tight for my husband
to maneuver.
I was smaller than he was-
(and still am, thank God),
so I was drafted into climbing the
ladder into the attic.

But let me set the stage for you.

It wasn't just any old attic.
It happened to be the hottest
and most humid day in history.
The attic was inhabited by stinging,
biting, and gnawing insects.
It was the home to rabid squirrels
and crazy raccoons.
It was a virtual Disney World
of creepy crawlers and cobwebs.

To stuff the itchy pink rolls of
fiberglass into the corners, I had
to lay on a piece of plywood-
on my back-
and manipulate the insulation
with a two-by-four.
I held the trouble light close by
and tried not to look at what
might be hovering in the darkness.

About five minutes into the ordeal,
the light bulb burnt out.
I held back a scream as my husband-
who was perched on the top rung of the ladder-
reassured me that everything was okay
and he'd be right back with a new bulb.

I heard him downstairs searching for
the light bulb-
walking from kitchen to bathroom
to bedroom -
to every closet.

I started breathing harder
and sweat started rolling down
my face and neck like little bugs.

Or was it really bugs?
Was that some animal in
the corner above me,
or just a shadow?
Would the wasps find me in the dark
and target my flesh?
Did I hear a squirrel chatter?

I tried to hang on and be brave.

Then I realized my husband was
on the phone.
The phone?
Why was he on the phone while
I was in intimate danger?

I yelled loudly as I heard him
mumbling to someone that
he was supposed
to be getting a light bulb.

I was soaking in the sauna of the attic
for what seemed like hours.
The varmints were making plans
to get rid of me
and the fiberglass was itching me to death.

Either way, I just knew
I was going to die up there
in that dark, lonely attic.

Suddenly, my husband's face
popped up the ladder
and he had a light bulb in one hand-
and a half-eaten bologna sandwich
in the other.
Apparently he got a little hungry
down there in the air conditioned house
and took the time out to
feed himself.

And here I was-
being cooked and baked to perfection
for all the furry attic creatures to feast on!

I will never let him forget that day-
and it's been over 20 years.

But now, when the house gets a little drafty
or the faucet starts to leak-
I just stay quiet-
pull on a sweater,
curl up in my recliner,
and smile over at my husband.

It's always a good day
to do nothing.