Category Archives: Personal Stuff

Ora’s House

When we pulled up to Ora’s house the first thing I noticed was the back porch was beginning to cave in. I’m a contractor so these are the kind of things I see first. As I took a walk around her house, there was deteriorated wood everywhere, and I could see immediately that the roof was leaking. I had envisioned, prior to my arrival here, particular tasks that I would be instructed to undertake, but that wouldn’t be the case with Ora’s house. To steal a phrase from a current television program, Ora’s house needed an “extreme makeover”. We certainly had the manpower and woman-power; there were twenty of us of all ages and backgrounds. I didn’t know any of my new family members yet, other than seeing them on Sundays at Old South Church, but I was about to learn that we were a family of angels, as Ora aptly named us.

Ora and her angels

Darrell, I quickly learned was a guy just like me, a contractor slash carpenter slash all around master of nothing but getting things done. I knew, even if he didn’t, that we would be Ora’s Michael and Raphael, leading the angelic assault on repairing her home. We made a quick assessment that the house needed a new roof, fascia and soffits, painting and caulking, and the back porch needed a complete overhaul. The stairs leading to the front of the house needed to be rebuilt and the back patio wall was in disrepair; oh and I almost forgot, Ora also needed a new water heater. There was relatively no material or equipment on site, except some ladders and 5 sheets of plywood, and we had already lost a day’s work due to our bus breaking down on the journey to Princeton, West Virginia.
Darrell made a stock list and set about dispatching some people to make a trip to the local lumber yard while I took Carrie and Karen under my wings to make roofers out of them. A new roof wouldn’t be possible given the time we had to complete the work; four days, so Carrie and Karen began installing metal and shingle flashing along the roof where it was obviously leaking and spread some asphalt around the chimneys. While some angels made their way to the lumber yard, Darrell and I agreed that the upper roof over the rear porch needed to be demolished. We cut up the roof and structure, dismantling it piece by piece, throwing each scrap on the ground and watching our winged soldiers: Paula, Donna and Kathy cart them away.
Meanwhile, the rest of our army attacked the other tasks. Fran and Richie worked on the front stairs, Bill and Linda stripped down the siding adjacent the chimney and replaced it with all new wood, then did the same with the fascias and soffits. Joanna, was our own personal nurse, caring for bee stings, cuts and bruises; that is, when she wasn’t leading the charge on painting and caulking with Darren, Charlie, Joe, Jillian, Christine and Jessica.
When more materials arrived our roofing crew, Carrie, Karen and Donna, installed a new roof on the rear porch section that was once a floor. The door was blocked off, the wall re-mortared and new support columns were installed. When all was said and done, the landscaping team consisting of everyone, chipped in and planted new shrubs for good measure. Oh yes, and the water heater was installed by everybody’s favorite angel, Brian. Brian provides the underlying strength of Ora’s little army of angels by keeping our bellies full.
On the fourth day when all the work was done, Ora and her army of angels cried tears of joy for they knew that God was smiling down on them. I will never forget all of our family of angels and I am comforted in knowing that Ora is now a part of it, forever.


Ninety Nine

When my son was preparing for the end of his high school days and hedging on whether to go on to college because “four years is a long time”, I told him to go ask his then 96 year old great-grandmother if she thought 4 years was a long time. When my then 75 year old father took a spill on his Harley and wound up in the hospital, the first words he spoke were, “don’t tell my mother”. Obviously, I had to, and with much trepidation, I said to my grandmother, “Gram, I have some bad news about Stan”. Her reply was, “is he in jail again?” That broke the ice and as she so often did, my grandmother made a difficult situation easier, and we actually had a laugh over it, despite its seriousness. Of course my father fully recovered, and is looking at new Harleys as I write this. His mother, my grandmother, Cora Spain, passed away on December 22 at the age of 99 years. So, this last month of the year was a bit sad for me but certainly there is some consolation in that she lived a long good life. I’m sure she is happy to be reunited with her husband, another Stanley Spain, who passed away in 2002 at the age of 96.