Our house, is a very, very, very nice house…
It was the moment that my friend Joy, ShopVac® Queen for the Day, firmly ordered one of the Habitat permanent staff back on the protective paper and off her clean tile that I knew: this was no ordinary house. It was ours. And we, with the guidance of Amy (the English graduate from North Carolina-turned-project manager until the recession ends), were fine-tuning it for Patricia.
When Amy had told us of Patricia several hours before, it was the voice-clearing kind of story and a story of numbers. One lost woman. Two grown children. Three grandchildren. And a decision four years ago that she would do whatever it took to get beyond her addictions and homelessness and have a place of her own.
In early February, when Patricia gets the keys, she will be celebrating five years of “being clean.” The Habitat home has been the biggest incentive, Amy said, “which is proof that systems like these can and are working.”
So back to the ranch—or Georgian green duplex, to be accurate.
We were down to the nitty-gritty in the most literal of terms. Joy was clearing out the construction dirt. Cyndi and Pam were cleaning shelves and assembling the stove top sans directions. I was using GoofOff® (my new favorite product) to prepare the tub surround for caulking. And Helen—the woman who had put this day together–was painting the front door. White on one side, whiter still on the other, which was a little crazy-making for a graphic artist with breath-taking color sense.
When the master bedroom was complete, I asked Joy to be my witness for the Carl A. Thompson Memorial Nail Placement. Actually, I had two finishing nails taped to the handle with blue masking tape—one for Dad, one for Mom, both retrieved out of the bottom of the tool chest he’d packed for me.
As we sat on the floor of the small room, I placed the nail like he’d shown me years ago and tapped it lightly to get it started. The sucker bent in half. Crap. So, I pulled it out, straightened it, and sank it on the second try. The next nail was a breeze.
Joy, bless her, kissed her finger tips and placed them on the nail heads. I just grinned.
When I relayed the story to my Mom by phone hours later, she laughed out loud. That’s the best part, she said. Bending a nail was always something that one builder teased another about. We agreed that Dad, his fellow master carpenter Dallas Donald and my uncle Don were probably hangin’ out in Heaven, having a great time watching.
And a very, very, very nice house.