Feb 9, 2014

The men in my life


And now over to something completely different.

My father’s workshop was my safe haven. It was located behind the laundry room in the basement of our sixties red brick house behind the school canteen in the small town were I grew up. The laundry room was mom’s room, the workshop dad’s. And my safe haven.

Sensing the work shop now I am thinking it was the warmest room I’ve ever experienced. And the brightest. Even though it was cluttered with things it was bright from the presence of my Dad. He was a pastry chef dressed in white, and although I am sure he didn’t wear his bakery clothes in the workshop, my sense about him there is white and glowing. Filling up the room with happiness and untamed creativity.

My dad taught me everything he thought a girl should know. He was home in the afternoon already, done with the baking for the day. After a ten minutes nap in the bathtub (!) he was ready for whatever was on his agenda around the house and garden. And I was always included if I wanted.

I can feel his hand on my arm, teaching me how to handle the saw, making it find it’s smooth way through the plank. How many nails did I hammer into Dad’s cutting block just for the joy and practice of it? Countless! And the workshop was where I learned the fine art of painting. Every coat thin, no dripping. Three delicate coats with fine brushstrokes made a smooth pretty surface. Yes, annoyingly slow, but I learned the joy and pride watching a beautiful result.

Dad’s workshop smelled from wood and paint, the best scent ever. Opening the door in there was an adventure. What is he up to now? And what will I be up to? Walls, cabinets and drawers filled with bits and pieces, in mom’s eyes junk, in my eyes treasures possible transforming into something very special in my hands.

As I grew up Dad taught me how to mow the lawn, change oil in the car, switch tires and do a proper hand wash. When boyfriends later occurred I felt betrayed and put a side when my Dad opened up the secrets of our old car to them as I didn’t exist anymore. I can see myself perplex watching them on the driveway in front of the garage. I knew what was going on though. With only women in the family it was fun for my beloved Dad having a man in the house, and he is forgiven.

Dad and I was a great team. As a young woman I moved into my grand parents old home stead at the end of the road in the little village, and there were years and years of renovating, making use for all the skills he had taught me. Later, when those days came, it was very hard on him watching me getting physically limited from my back problems.

My Dad made me independent and self reliable. I am grateful he didn’t live to see me spending most hours of the day on my couch because that’s all I can do. It would have made him absolutely heartbroken.

So, what do I do, when I can’t be the man in the house? Well, I have to surrender and ask for help. And it turns out that in most cases there are men helping me out. My phone book is full of men providing me their expertise, and from my couch perspective I can’t be anything but grateful.

For pluming there is Leif and his guys (one woman!), Broman and Jonas are the electricians. Jonna and Patrik are the indoor carpenters I am relying on, Bengt and Hans the out door. Sören is the one I am calling if anything needs to be fixed with a tractor, and Bertil helps me out with issues involving trees and forest. Roland has the kind of machinery every man dreamt about as a boy and can fix anything you think is impossible. Kjell takes care of kitchen appliances, Kurre my cars and Per and Daniel are my aid when the village broadband is failing. Add to that my insurance broker Anders, accountant Lars and mentor Torstein. That’s a pretty impressive list I have to say! The men in my life.

How did this happen? How did Dad’s independent and self reliable Maria end up with this harem of craftsmen? Well, I know how it happened and I know why, but I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I am now in this sense everything I could never picture myself being. Growing up the way I did, I didn’t even know it was an option!

I am sighing here. A deep sigh into my bones and the warmth of my Dad’s workshop. It is hard. It is very hard. Yet, I am thinking, this list might be a proof for self reliance as good as holding the hammer and the nail myself. I have found (all except Sören, Roland and Bertil who lives in the village and are interlaced with me since generations and therefore good to me), and kept all these people who I can totally rely on and know they will helpfully come to my assistance whenever I am in need.

Cleaning out my mother and father’s house after they passed away, we saved the workshop for last. Disassembling and sorting out Dad’s collection of “come in handy” things picked up from everywhere kept in his warm cave was like putting the bones in his body in different boxes. When the room was empty we could feel a damp smell and saw signs of water damage in a corner. My father had filled the room with such warmth we had no idea it was there. When the room was empty, my Dad was gone. 

It’s been falling heavy wet snow here for a couple of days. Yesterday evening there was a power outage and my house was completely dark and silent for some hour. Trouble 2 and Audrey have stayed here this last week as I have been in a bad condition. The two of them heading into town today, a big branch had fallen over a power line and was blocking the way. We called Sören. He came with his tractor.

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