My dad really messed me up and last night I finally figured out what it was that he did to me.
Here’s the story.
Late Wednesday night (early Thursday morning – about 1 am), I was sitting on the edge of my bed with my computer on a tray table, writing madly away on Book 13. All of the lights in the cabin were off, but the moon was bright enough the cats were still playing. The scene I was writing was a good one, my fingers were flying across the keyboard as I sent Polly and Henry out in the middle of the night to take care of something.
Then I heard a strange sound, one I identified as spraying water. That’s not good. I hauled my old knees into service again, flipped a light on at my desk as I dashed to the other side of the cabin. I turned another light on and water was spraying up from under the sink at an alarming rate.
We have eternal construction happening here. I’m completely fine with that. In fact, it’s actually quite comfortable. Someday all of our family’s ducks will be in a row and we’ll finish more parts and pieces of the inside, but for now, it’s a perfect place for me to hide and write.
One of the things that my brother learned from Dad was that you have more than one shut-off valve for water throughout a house. Right there in plain sight was my salvation. I twisted and twisted and finally, to my great relief, the spray ceased. Now I had a mess to clean up. I sopped water up off the concrete floor (thank you for a concrete floor) and glared at the problem. The fitting had failed because of the incredible amount of lime in our water. It took seven years to fail, but it was now lying on the floor, taunting me.
Now here’s my problem and how my father completely messed me up. I was talking to my brother about the situation tonight and it hit me. Dad raised me as a girl. That’s the first half of the issue.
Dad could fix anything. Plumbing, drywall, the roof, electricity, appliances (well, kinda). He could fix it. He built this cabin. He had help finishing a lot of it, but this was his dream. He could do anything.
He raised me as a girl. I helped him because I was the oldest (tallest and took direction well). But my help generally consisted of him telling me which tool he needed. I was darned proud of myself when I learned to anticipate his needs and have the right one ready. He didn’t teach me how to change fittings in a sink or put new guts in a toilet or (the list goes on and on). He didn’t teach me to fix cars or how to change the oil. I’m certain that he hoped I’d marry someone who was as handy as he was (that did NOT happen, by the way).
Now if you think about the girly-girls out there in the world, what’s one thing you know about them? They are quite adept at asking for help.
There’s the second half of my problem. Not only did my father raise me as a girl, he raised me to be self-sufficient. I don’t easily ask for help. I can now fix many things because Dad taught me to pay attention and figure it out. I was never going to get away with being a whiny little girly-girl. If I worked hard enough, maybe read the stupid manual or directions, and kept at it – I could fix it. On my own. Without any help.
Do you see the complexity of my problem? A) There are things I don’t know how to do and B) I have trouble asking for help in getting them done. I know nothing about plumbing fixtures and I don’t have the time or inclination to learn. I have a book to write, for heaven’s sake.
There’s a wonderful young man in the area – and he’s actually one of the reasons I wrote the first Bellingwood book, though he has no idea. When I knew I was going to spend time here finishing my Master’s Degree and starting my writing career, we needed to install a furnace. The wood stove was a mess and wouldn’t do. I called Jeremy, he gave me a great price on full installation and then did the work. Whenever there was a problem with the furnace or A/C, he came immediately and fixed the thing, charging me a more than fair price (read: ridiculously low for what I was used to in Omaha).
I was at my wit’s end today. Other (minor) plumbing issues have cropped up over the last years and I’ve just been living with them. But now I was over the edge. It was either call my brother and beg him to spend a day with me fixing things or suck it up and ask for help locally.
I finally called Jeremy. He’s one of those young men that grew up learning how to do everything. Though he installs furnace and A/C systems, I suspect there isn’t much he can’t do. I asked if he knew anyone, though, that could do some (apparently) simple plumbing fixes.
“I’ll be there tomorrow, Diane. I’m not a certified plumber, but I’ve been doing this stuff all my life. I can take of it for you. All of it.”
He didn’t see, but I cried when I ended the call. He was coming out to help me.
I’m still frustrated that I can’t easily do these things myself and I’m still frustrated that it’s so difficult for me to ask for help.
You don’t need to lecture me. I know who I am. I’ve been this person for a lot of years. You can laugh at my conundrum and commiserate with me on my insanity. You can send chocolate and well-wishes; you can drink wine as you chuckle, but you don’t need to help me. I have Jeremy.
It is nice to finally identify that strange split that happened in me years ago. Dad would smile. Mom would howl with laughter, but hey – she married someone who was handy, even if he did make her get up on top of the cabin to hold plywood while he built this place.
Am I a nut? Oh heck, yes.