Weathering The Storms
If you're a homeowner you most likely own a ladder, an implement of disaster,
a necessity for every do-it-yourselfer. I own one of these devices - a twelve-footer - given
to me by a neighbor.
Normally, only things within my reach are in danger of destruction. With my
ladder, however, I can cover a twelve-foot radius. Within this radius can be found many
breakable items: windows, cars, power lines, and neighbors.
I once had the misfortune of living in a mobile home. Older mobiles, like the
one in which I lived, had metal roofs; a source of many headaches. Constructed with two-foot
wide strips of aluminum and pieced together with folded seams, they are prone to
leaks. In the winter the snow builds up on the low sloped panels. Heat lost through the
poorly insulated roof causes it to melt during relatively warm days. Water trapped under
the snow seeps into the seams. At night, when the temperature drops, the water freezes
and forces the seams apart. This continues all winter long. By spring you're living in a
During one particularly nasty spring storm, one with high winds and heavy
rains, my daughter approached me, "Dad, there's a leak in my ceiling." She grabbed my
hand, "Come on, Dad, hurry. It's a big leak." I hesitated. The first ball game of the year
was on TV. How bad could it be? It was probably just a small drip.
She pulled me down the hall and into her room. "See, dad!" She pointed at her
ceiling. "Look!" She wasn't exaggerating. The water poured though the ceiling in a steady
stream, splashed on her desk, ran off onto the floor, and soaked her carpet.
"See, dad. I told you so." She stood with one hand on her hip and her head tilted
to one side, a miniature of my wife, proud she'd proved me wrong. She was right. I
needed to fix this right away. "It's OK, honey; I'll fix it for you." I said as I headed for the
I slipped into my rain gear and glanced out the window. I could think of several
places I’d rather be than up on the roof. The wind threw the rain against the windowpanes
in sheets. The water running down the glass distorted the swaying trees and reminded me
of looking through the heat rising from a campfire. I looked longingly at my chair, the
beer on the table beside it, the open newspaper, and the ball game on the television. I
sighed and thrust my feet into my boots.
Outside the wind-driven rain hit my face like hail. The storm roared through the
trees, blew my hat off, and caused my raincoat to flap behind me like a cape. I shielded
my eyes with one hand and leaned forward to keep my balance. I trudged to the shed,
opened the door, and there it was, "The Ladder." In my hands I could feel its evil power
radiating up my arm like the red line of an infection.
The wind pushed and pulled at its length, and twisted me sideways as I battled
my way back to the house. I propped the ladder into position and returned to the shed for
a can of tar and a brush.
From the roof I could see white caps on the waves in the wind-churned cove.
They sped down its length and crashed against the rocks at its head. The road, which
wound around its shoreline, was littered with debris, tossed there by the force of the
waves. I spotted my hat tangled in the upper branches of nearby tree. Tomorrow it would
be gone, carried off by the storm, never to seen again. The rain beat down on me,
plastered my hair to my head, and made my glasses useless. I slipped them into my
pocket and crawled to where I thought the leak might be. Near the edge of the slippery
roof the wind blew up my backside and lifted my raincoat up over my head. It snapped in
my ears like a flag on a windy day and covered my eyes, blinding me. To a bystander I
must have looked like an umbrella turned inside out.
On my knees, I waved my arms in circles and battled my coat back into
position, but not before the cold rain had soaked my shirt, gluing it to my back. In control
again, I located the leak and plugged it with globs of black, sticky tar, as water ran into
my eyes and dripped from my nose. It wasn't the best of patch-jobs, but it would do until
the weather improved, and I could do a permanent repair.
I tapped the top back on the can of tar and relished the thought of a hot shower
and a cold beer. A gust of wind, the strongest one yet, made me drop flat to keep from
being blown over the edge. There was a scrapping noise behind me, and I turned in time
to watch the ladder slide from view and crash on the ground below. "Now, here's a fine
mess!" I thought to myself.
"Honey!" I yelled for my wife.
"Honey!" There was no response.
"Georgia!" I screamed. Still no response.
I knelt and pounded on the tin plates until my hands were sore, but there was no
sign of rescue. My wife could be excused for her inattention; she wasn't ignoring me. The
fault lay with that slab of tin called a roof. When the wind blows, as it did on that day, it
causes the panels to rumble and bang, making a noise like a dump truck passing over a
large pothole. In bed at night, you can track each gust as it rattles the panels one-by-one
along the length of your home. It will start at one end, crash by over your head, and roll
like thunder to the other end, making you wonder when you'll have that long-wanted
On this particular day my screaming and banging blended nicely with the
natural sounds of a mobile-home, and my attempts to be rescued were just one more
instrument in an orchestra of sounds. Georgia did eventually get worried about me
and came to the rescue. She laughed with water streaming from her face as she propped
the ladder back in place. “You idiot!” she said, when I was safely on the ground.
Later that evening, after several well-deserved beers, it was easy to laugh about the
ordeal, but at the time humor was the furthest thing from my mind.
That day reminds me that life often throws us a storm. We can’t let it beat us.
We have to put on our rain coats, lean into the wind and trudge forward. We can beat the
storm, if we work hard to stay on our feet. Of course, there will be times when the wind
will blow us back a few steps, as if we were carrying a ladder, but when it lets up a bit,
we’ll slowly make our way forward. Storms don’t last forever. They blow over, and the
sun comes out. When it does, we’ll be able to sit back, relax, and maybe even laugh.
We have a choice: lean into the wind or hide in the closet.
Me? I’m a leaner.
~ Michael T. Smith ~
[ by: Michael T. Smith
Copyright © 2005, (firstname.lastname@example.org) -- submitted by: Michael T. Smith ]
All Rights Reserved.