I never thought that I would be able to fix things around my house by myself.
As one of the biggest fans of the sitcom “Friends”, I remember the first time I saw the scene with Phoebe and the smoke detector. I laughed because it was so real. Those darn things always seem to go off in the middle of the night and they are impossible to turn off, especially for those of us who cannot fix things.
I have never been even slightly “handy”.
Then again, I never needed to be. Growing up, my dad would fix things. Whenever he couldn’t handle something, he would call a repairman. I was a “girly girl” who was never taught to fix anything and had no interest in learning.
I happen to have married the least handy-man in America. I always say that he could barely change a lightbulb. What he was great at was picking up the phone to call someone to help. Mostly repairmen but sometimes his dad, who was super-handy, or our neighbor who may be the most handy man in America.
When my husband passed away eight years ago, household repairs were on my very long list of things to worry about. Granted, he couldn’t actually fix things, but he was the one responsible for getting it done in some way.
In the beginning, I just sat around and hoped that nothing would break. If something did and it wasn’t too big, I would just leave it. Who cared if the handle on my dishwasher was loose or the light was out over my kitchen stove?
For the bigger issues, like when my sump pump broke or my roof leaked, I called the same neighbor that my husband called. He would fix what he could, or point me in the right direction of a repairman to call if he couldn’t.
Then it was time for my daughters to move into college. With each move came things that needed to be put together. I now have a boyfriend who is sweet enough to join me and help me in any way he can. But when it comes to men, I realize that I must have a type because he is probably the second least handy-man in America.
It was time for me to step up or my poor girls would not have a piece of furniture in their dorm rooms. I pulled out a pink toolkit and read the directions that came with the furniture. Before I knew it, I was putting together night tables, dressers and lamps. I wasn’t bad at it. I found a new skill and I actually sometimes even found it therapeutic.
This gave me the idea that I could possibly fix things in my house.
My toilet seat recently broke. Yes, the actual toilet seat just cracked in half. My first instinct was crazy glue – crazy glue can fix anything. Plus it was my own bathroom toilet which nobody sees.
Crazy glue just didn’t cut it for this job. It was time to go to Home Depot. I always get terribly nervous walking in there, but I did and quickly found the toilet section. Thankfully, there weren’t too many seats to choose from so I bought the one that looked like it would fit and hoped for the best.
I brought it home and took out my handy-dandy tools. I studied the toilet and, after a while, figured out how to get the darn thing off. It was screwed on pretty tight so it was hard to do (thank God for my yoga muscles!). Once it was off, I screwed on the new one. Voila – a brand new toilet seat! I was quite proud of myself. I fixed something!
Could this be the new me?
A few nights ago, I felt like I was in that episode of “Friends”.
I was woken up by “beep…beep…beep…”. Darn smoke detector. Unlike Phoebe, I closed my eyes, put a pillow over my head and tried my best to sleep until morning.
After a restless sleep, I woke up in the morning to the continuing “beep…beep…beep…”, and to my poor little dog having a panic attack from the sound.
I had to fix it. I have replaced batteries in smoke detectors before – no big deal. But then I noticed which smoke detector was beeping. It was the one in my bedroom that, for some reason I don’t understand, was placed so high up the wall that cannot be reached even standing on a chair.
I needed a ladder, which I do not have. I really wanted to tackle this myself so I texted my neighbor and asked if I could borrow his ladder.
I wanted this story to end with my climbing the ladder and replacing the batteries in this very high up smoke detector myself, but my neighbor ruined my story when he insisted on doing it for me.
Even so, at least I wanted to try. I have become slightly handy over the years. I have learned that it is important for me to help myself when I can. I am certainly not superwoman, and of course there are things I will never be able to do, but I now like to try when I can.
And even though I may not have changed the batteries myself, at least I didn’t throw the smoke detector down the garbage chute like Phoebe did.
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Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, now ages 18 and 20, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.