An old man sat on his run down old porch. The dungarees he wore looked like the first ever pair Levis made, worn and hand washed probably a million times. Out front of his home was a playing field where the neighourhood kids would always come and play in, a natural meadow with wild flowers and over grown grass in places.
A father came by the playing field to call his son home for dinner time. As he called for his son he noticed the old man lift his head up to peer out from under his hat. “Five minutes more dad” the boy called out across the field, his dad waved to let him know it was okay.
“Howdy” said the father to the old man, as he was walking toward his house. “You been fixing the place up today?”. The old man wiped his brow with his hat as he removed it in bidding the father a good evening. “Fixing” he said with a smirk. “Boy, let me tell you something” as he stood to his feet and walked towards the father.
“I started this roof in the 80’s. I made a good porch and a nice fresh look for the front of the house, then the winter came. ’86 it was, maybe you are too young to remember? I waited til after the rains that year to crack on with the side and all arund the back. Only ever worked it by myself. I live by myself and seems like every rainy season I spring a new leak, though I press on each new year and put a new piece on”.
The father was listening to the old man and taking in the view of the monstrosity that the roof was.
“Seems like a lot of work for just one man & no offence but you are not getting any younger”
The old man smirked and continued to tell the father of his many years of hard work on the roof. “Every year she springs a new leak. Just when i get a few new sheets of metal in each spring and work on making another section fine and danndy, I have to come back over the work from the year before and and it has come now to time where I am making less progress than I ever was. I have to finish the new roof on the new chicken coop out the back and I even build a new back deck last 2 years running. All my new shinny sheets will go to that this summer. Ya see over there by the side behind the apple tree? I am planning a nice new extension off the day room for myself. I get tired more easy now, these times”
The father looked at the man and while he appreciated his work and efforts, he felt he must speak up and say something.
“I can see all your hard work sir, I can see how much time you have spent building another piece here and there. I can see how you have made quite the effort. Perhaps you might wanna consider going easy on yourself, maybe this year give it a rest and leave the new “day room” for another time. Maybe this year you could focus on fixing the roof where it leaks and dont worry about the new plans for just now. Though I would never mean to tell a man his business”. The father stood waiting for an approval or disapproval from the old man for what he had said.
The old man stood back, “son, you might be right. I have been building new pieces to this house for many years now. I always get caught by the rains and have had my hands full going around in circles. 1 new roof would fix all of the leaks at once. And for all this time I kept on thinking of how I would build me the finest house around. Always thinking that the next new room would be the one. I never gave as much effort into the rooms that were getting wet in the winter”.
“With all due respect sir, why dont junior and me come and give ya hand over the summer. We can help you do it right once and for all. We could even have some time left in spring to build you that day room if we have the materials left”.
The old man sat back on his porch, “son, you have stood there and spoke with me for no more than ten minutes this evening and made me see something tremendous that I have missed my whole life. All these years thinking I could build the finest home while never taking care of the roof that had holes in it. Each year I wanted something new, another piece built on. I never gave thought to look back over all the failing pieces. I never noticed that all I needed, well all I need was to do a complete revamp and all could have been resolved. Boy I wish I had met with you some 20 years early”.
The two men chuckled a laugh together. Junior had just arrived from playing and asked if his dad was ready to go now. “Why is the old man laughing dad?”. The father explained to him as they walked away and back towards the beginning of the concrete pathway, “Son he is laughing because he just realised that he has been working so hard on building new bits to that house and coming up with new ideas and plans, that all the time he has neglected the areas that needed attention. I just explained to him that the best thing he could do was rip it all off, the roof that is. Start over again like new. The best way he could manage the mess he had created was to adapt a new strategy and style and spare himself the hardship and work load. He agreed with me and so we shared a laugh.
“Oh okay dad” his son said back to him as he looked more confused now than before when he asked.