I have lived in my humble little house for over fifteen years now, and only once have I had to call a contractor to do any work. I was replacing the circuit breaker box, upgrading it from a 60 to a 100, and I have been zapped with 220 before so I am very timid about dealing with heavy electrical current. Other than that, anything that has needed done around here I have done myself.
This has included the re-wiring of the house (110 is just a tingle); re-plumbing of the majority of the house; ripping out walls, ceilings and floors and replacing them; building fences around the property and more. When I bought this place years ago I knew NOTHING about how to do this stuff. As I sat and realized that there were things that needed done, and calculated the cost of hiring someone to come in and do the work, I harkened back to wise words once told to my by my late uncle, Howard Kaske.
Uncle Howard was a man’s man! To me, as a child, he seemed to know everything about everything, and had a natural gift (one I assume he inherited from his father, Howard Sr.) at fixing things. It didn’t matter if it was a car, heavy-duty truck, or remodeling a house or apartment. The man just knew what to do! When I was about ten years old, I remember sitting at the doorway of his little tool shed, one that occupied the empty space under the stairs and where the old coal chute had been. The room was filled with wonderful and mysterious things, tools, and screws, and an assortment of doo-hickeys and thing-a-ma-bobs that made no sense to me. As I sat in wide-eyed wonder, watching this giant of a man (he was at least 6’5″ tall) work with the grace and ease of a surgeon I asked him how he knew all that he knew.
He stopped working, leaned against his bench and looked me in the eye and said words that have stayed with me for over forty years. “Joey, [that’s what the family calls me] if I don’t know how to do something, I get a book and read it. Then I figure out a better way of doing what the book says. Never be afraid to try something, and if you don’t know how to do it, read about it and learn.”
So over the years, as I realized this or that needed done in the house, I bought a book and read it. Then re-read it and re-re-read it. It has allowed me to rewire the majority of the house and bring it up to code (copper to aluminum to copper wiring is NOT code). I have re-plumbed the majority of the house; ripped out roof decking and replaced it and shingles. I have torn out walls and ceilings, replaced light fixtures, wall plugs and switches, all because of a man, who whether he realized it or not was like a father to me.
Which brings me back to the present situation. Several months ago I had a pipe spring a leak. It was the main hot water pipe that fed the house. Since I have as much difficulty getting around now as I do, all I was able to do about this pipe was wrap it in some pipe wrap and turn off the hot water feed from the water heater. So for months now I have been heating water on the stove to do dishes and take baths. At first it was like living back in the late 19th or early 20th century. A challenge, but a bit fun and adventurous.
I knew that the repair would be simple enough, disconnect the line from the water heater and run a new line past the break. Unfortunately the house is on a crawl space and my medical problems preclude me from crawling around under the house unless someone were to tie a rope to my leg to pull me out. And so I went without hot water for months.
Several weeks ago I received a letter from a woman who has known me all my life, she has, since the passing of my mother, been like a mother to me. In the letter was a huge surprise, a check. The amount of the check was more than enough to actually hire a plumber to come out and repair the broken water line. So this week I was able to actually hire someone to do work that I once would have done myself. It was a hard, bitter pill to swallow, but one that I forced down.
I now have hot water, and for the past several days have enjoyed steamy showers, and the joy of not having to heat water on the stove to wash dishes.
While I still struggle to accept my limitations, I am discovering that God is watching out over me, and constantly surprises me with what I can do, and supplying me with the needed resources to do the things I can’t.
I know that I will develop other talents and abilities to compensate for my physical losses, and hopefully they will enable me to be a more productive part of society. But I also know that it is true, God is Jehovah-jireh (The Lord will provide) in times of need or doubt.
To the woman who has provided love, compassion and aid, I will respect your anonymity and privacy, but thank you so very much. To my Uncle Howard, thank you for being a father figure to me when I had none. You have no idea how much of an influence you were on my life, and my biggest regret is that I never told you while you were alive. I love you both very much!