Dec. 7, 2014 Sunday afternoon: Time to give Santa some competition.
Donning a stocking cap and a bright pink anorak with large front pocket, I shove a hammer in said pocket and climb up the ladder. Slower and less agile, I am surprised by how carefully my feet move up the rungs. Then, I reach the roof.
As a child, I was small, agile and quick. As an older adult, I am none of those things. A nasty case of shingles several years ago, affected my balance. Up on that roof, I suddenly appreciated the loss of that balance in a new and profound way.
“Oh, Lord!” I say out loud.
Inside, I’m praying like mad. “God help me find the strength and courage to be able to do get this tarp tacked down over the bad spots in the roof. Make my feet swift and sure. “
I remember the story of the devil tempting Jesus to jump off a great height and have angels come to save him. I start praying for angels. . . principalities, cerebrum, seraphim, arch angels, the guy next door with a head band halo…
Closing my eyes, I will my fear away or at least to insist it hide for a time.
Soon, my husband joins me. I’m so glad I’m not alone. “Breathe in courage. Exhale fear.”
Months of inactivity and overeating suddenly take an obvious toll. Flooded with regret, I close my eyes and tell myself that self-loathing can come later when I’m on solid ground. Self-loathing on rooftops is a really, really bad idea.
I close my eyes and swallow my fear again. Fear is like cud. It keeps coming back.
Together, my faithful spouse and I awkwardly crawl up to the crest of the roof. Huffing and puffing, the side of my leg is raw from scraping across the roofing. I thought yoga pants were a good idea. I cling to the peak of the roof and look at what I now need to climb down. An expletive leaves my lips. I didn’t count on that. It’s the fear talking. Damn fear.
I close my eyes. “Oh, Lord, Oh Lord.”
Since the roof has been leaking for some time, we know that the sub roofing may have been compromised. I insist on being the one to cross the uncertain terrain. Slowly scuttling like a half-boiled crab with a leg and claw missing, I begin to enter the potential danger zone. Taking the hammer from my pocket, I hit the roof before me in the most awkward position possible. The people passing on the ground below are being entertained. The young neighbors down the street who are the secret stars of my imaginary reality show entitled, “Hillbilly Mechanic” pass the house on a slow walk several times. Their amusement is payback for my creating an imaginary show for them in my head. (I learned of their interest later from my son. I was too busy hanging on, hammering and praying for safety to notice what a spectacle we were.) Maybe it’s time for a new imaginary reality show called, “Hillbilly Roofing Repair.”
Ah, but I digress. I’ll do anything to sidetrack that fear thing from rearing its ugly head. Even if its trying to rear its head in memory only.
Together on the roof, we unfurl the first tarp and discuss a plan of action. I add nails to the hammer in my front pocket and we begin tacking down the tarp and then hammering slats down over the tarp to help secure it against the wind and rain that will come. I rest a lot. We lose a lot of nails. They tumble pell mell down the roof and over the side. Husband pinches his best bass playing finger and has a lovely blood blister to show for his efforts. He lets out a weird howl at one point. I expect to see him go over the edge. Instead, he’d sat on a roofing nail.
Most of my injuries are covered by clothing in places my swim suit covers. Fortunately, my gluts were a counterweight that helped keep me on the roof as long as I kept them in close contact with the roof’s surface. My poor gluts.
After huffing, puffing, clinging, shuddering and almost crying, we finish. I lay against the roof eyes closed and breathe. Finally, I feel strong enough to head for the ladder. Fear is absent as shaky calves find the rungs. The ground is in sight. I almost kissed it with genuine joy and gratitude.
Roofing is for the young and the thinner. Santa, I’m afraid my little adventure shook my belief in you. Up on a rooftop, going down chimneys, you’ve got to be kidding me. In your dreams, Santa. God, on the other hand and a bunch of angels were working overtime.