When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to live on my own. I wanted to experience the freedom, the independence and the awesome feeling that I was finally a real adult. What I didn’t realize was how much responsibility was involved when it came to home repairs and basic upkeep. It wasn’t until I moved clear across the country that I realized, unfortunately, that Dad is no longer my Mr. Fix-It. I am.
When I was growing up, Dad was my go-to hero for all things house and bug related. If there was no hot water or my bedroom window was stuck, all I had to do was tell my Dad. He could always be found in the garage sitting at his workbench tinkering away. I’d tell him about the latest problem and then, as far as I knew, my responsibility was done. I had delivered the message and delegated the task. Ah… life was easy back then. From my standpoint, maintaining a four-bedroom house and a yard was super easy.
Boy did things change when I moved into my own place. Dad wished me well and gave me a tool box filled with the basics. But I barely used it since I still lived close enough to have him come over. He helped me out with whatever I was completely inept or too scared to do, like change the tumblers in the front door lock and remove the wasp nest outside my window.
Dad could fix anything and I felt safe knowing I could call on him any time day or night. One of the best parts of my Dad’s numerous house calls was his very affordable small fee–a cup of tea. Sometimes two if it was a big job. That beats the plumber’s going rate any day.
Over the years, Dad attached a new screen on a sliding door, replaced an electric heater, changed my water filter, hung a super heavy mirror and labeled all the switches in my circuit box for when I accidentally ran the dryer and the vacuum at the same time. He was great. And he was a patient teacher so that maybe the next time I could try to fix these things myself. I confess I never really listened because I figured he would always be there. When the faucet leaked, my fix was to stuff a paper towel up the faucet to stop the dripping sound until he could come over with a new washer.
But now that I live 3000 miles away, I can’t rely on him to hop on a plane just to listen to my clanking hot water heater or to get rid of the giant spider the size of an avocado pit that’s been hanging out in my bathtub. It’s time I learned to do these things for myself. Such pressure.
Now I live in a rental and it definitely has its upside. I can call my landlord to fix a leaky faucet or inspect the loose porch steps. But it just isn’t the same. He didn’t seem too happy when I stood next to him watching him replace the broken light fixture in my closet while offering to make him a cup of tea every ten minutes. And he’s not a chatter bug like my Dad.
My landlord isn’t the kind of guy who’s willing to help me hang up all my pictures or show me how to bolt the fish tank to the wall. Those are outside the scope of landlord duties, I guess.
I found myself texting my Dad poorly lit pictures of my washer/dryer setup to make sure the hoses were attached properly. I spent hours Googling tools, learning what a combination wrench looked like versus an adjustable wrench. And, if I ever wanted to hang a picture, I had to learn how to properly drill a hole in plaster walls without making a giant crumbling crater. This I learned the hard way. But it allowed me to learn how to spackle on YouTube so it wasn’t a complete loss.
I felt like I was suddenly thrust into the grad school of do-it-yourself without yet completing my 100-level courses. I left the nest believing I could handle things with my limited skill set of plungering and using my shoe as a hammer. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate my Dad.
Living so far away has forced me to do things on my own. And honestly, these were things I never cared to know, like where the nearest Home Depot was. But I guess it’s just part of being an independent adult. This past summer I snaked my own drain and re-caulked my tub. Successfully I might add. It was a feeling of accomplishment. But I also realized that it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as standing by my Dad’s side holding his cup of tea while he explained the inner workings of a dimmer switch or why toggle bolts are important.
The great thing is I know that my Dad is always there for me, even if it’s only through Skype. I can still call on him any time day or night. I guess he’ll always be my Mr. Fix-It.