Archive for February, 2009

On Brick Sidewalks and Toilets


Even though Garnet and I got married in August, we still have two houses.

A big reason for that is Buster. He is in the neighborhood of 16 (the vet thought he was a year to 18 months old when I got him 15 years ago), and, although he enjoys spending time at Garnet’s house, the time comes when he wants to go back to the house where he has spent all of but that first year or so of his life.

Having to keep the house because of Buster has served me well by giving me an excuse to keep it.

I am definitely reluctant to let go. I have lived in it for going on 23 years, a big chunk of my life. I like the Whitfields and my other neighbors. I like having my own space. Some men have a rec room in the basement. At the moment, I still have a whole house as my rec room.

It’s clear that the time is coming to consolidate households, though. Garnet’s house is undoubtedly the better one for the kids. Lately, I have been been putting in changes of address and bringing over this and that.

In the process, I have discovered that one reason I find it hard to let go of the old house is that doing so will mean giving up a tangible connecton to my father. After he died, my mother moved. So her house has no ties to him. My house has lots of ties to him.

He helped me pick out my house. When I made the appointment to see it when I was looking to buy a house, he and my mother came over from Huntersville and went with me.

She walked around, sat on the swing on the front porch and pronounced that it had a good feel to it. He went down in the basement, checked out the joists and such and said it seemed like a fine, solid house to him.

I bought it.

The concrete walk from the front steps to the public sidewalk was pretty beat up, and, not too long after I bought it, he said he was coming over to help me take it up and put in a brick walk.

I did much of the work of breaking up the old walk and getting rid of it but the new brick walk was really his work. Ever since, I think about my dad when I look at the bricks.

Later, he helped me put in a new toilet when the old one went bad. It took us more time than it should have because, after we pulled out the old one, we got it into our heads that it would be a good idea to go ahead and replace the ring securing it to the floor while we were at it. Getting that leveled and sealed properly took some work.

Lately, I have been finding myself thinking about no longer having that walk and that toilet in my life. It seems absurd to have a sentimenal attachment to a toilet. But there it is.

My apprecation for my father is connected to toilets in another way as well.

Dad was a Presbyterian minister. From the time I was 8 until I was 13, we lived in West Virginia. One Saturday, I stopped by the church there to find him cleaning the bathrooms.

The janitor was sick or had had a family emergency or something, so he had not been able to take care of things. So there my father was making sure that all the bathrooms were in good shape for Sunday.

He wasn’t making a big deal of it. He was just doing it.

That made a big impression on me. Over the years, I have met many people who considered certain tasks beneath their station.

My dad, though, believed in cheerfully doing whatever needed doing.

It was one of many valuable gifts that he gave me.

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