Monday, November 23, 2009

Jack of all trades

One evening, many years ago, while Leif and I were cleaning up the dinner dishes Emma was puttering around her room and Finn was doing exactly what you'd expect of a 2 year old boy...accidentally locking himself in the bathroom. By this point Leif and I were seasoned parents and we did not over react...we had baby proofed the bathroom very well (except for the damn locks) so we decided continuing our clean up and occasionally suggesting Finn turn the lock again and let himself out was the best course of action. After all we didn't want the little guy to panic.
A while later we were tucking Emma into bed and pretty much insisting Finn turn the lock and open the door, but still nothing. We had inspected the door and knew if Finn didn't undo his little mistake we would have a fairly large problem on our hands. You see, there was not a lock on the outside of the door, the hinges were on the inside of the door and the only window to the bathroom was glass block. He was trapped.
By the time Emma was sleeping Finn was crying and curling his fingers under the crack at the bottom of the door to hold my hand.
Clearly he was not going to turn the lock again and we needed to get some help. We narrowed down our assistance choices to the fire department or Jack.

We chose Jack.
Our neighbor Jack's favorite food was tuna noodle casserole unless you put mushrooms in it (I learned that the hard way). Jack could not eat corn or apples. If the subject of RV's came up when Jack was around it was probably best if you prepared to devote at least 90 minutes to the conversation. Jack replaced the thermal couple on our furnace on Thanksgiving one year and I taught him how to remove a broken light bulb from a socket using a potato. He taught me how to wash the windows in my house with Windex and newspaper and he was missing a couple fingers. He always wore a hat.And on the night we called Jack instead of the fire department he showed up with an array of crowbars and a plan.

I objected at the thought of popping the lock and the surrounding woodwork, but Jack looked at me and said matter of factly, "You want the boy out of the bathroom don't you?" We certainly did and we trusted Jack. I implored Finn to get into the bathtub so he would be away from the door when Jack attacked it. It took Finn a very long time to get into the tub. He was sniffling and crying and telling us to "wait just a minute" and finally told us he was in the bathtub. Knowing Finn was secure, Jack picked his weapon and popped the woodwork, split the door, and demolished the lock in a movement so aggressive that he sent himself flying across the room. Leif caught Jack and the door swung open to reveal a stark naked Finn sitting in an empty bathtub singing a very nervous and teary version of "Woody's Round Up." Apparently he thought he was going to take a bath and had taken off his clothes when we told him to get into the tub.
Our neighbor Jack was our hero that night and after we had a good laugh he packed up his crow bars and humbly headed home.
Jack passed away while we were eating a pot roast dinner several years later, but not before he helped us out countless times more.
Today Jack's daughter came over to help me paint the bathroom Finn locked himself in all those years ago. Together we patched up the last remaining damage from old Jack's crowbars and reminisced about a great neighbor and father. It is very clear to me that Jack's salt of the earth kindness has been passed along to his daughter and my life has been forever improved as a result.
If only by proxy, it seemed fitting Jack should have a hand in sprucing up our bathroom; he left a legacy behind in that room. More importantly, however, Jack's legacy is alive and well in his daughter and I know he would be very proud of the woman she continues to be. Thank you Patty, for picking up a paintbrush today and sharing your memories with me...you are truly a Jack of all trades.

2 comments:

pattybanish said...

OH MELISSA,
WHAT CAN I SAY!
YOUR WORDS TRULY TOUCHED MY HEART..
I SAID TO ROY,"ALL I DID WAS HELP MELISSA PAINT HER BATHROOM!"
YOU TURNED MY LITTLE BIT OF HELP INTO SOMETHING SO WONDERFUL!
YOUR WRITING IS SUCH A GIFT..
I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE LECTURE FAMILY WOULD DO WITHOUT THE ELSMO'S
WE ARE BLESSED TO HAVE YOU AND YOURS
ALWAYS,
PATTY

Mary said...

I swear I have a tear in my eye...I remember that as though it were yesterday. I did not realize Finn disrobed prior to getting in tub...just makes it all the more precious. You have a great knack for making words into poetry

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...