Seeing the End of DIY

Years ago, Hubby and I urged his dad to quit doing all the projects around their house. He was in his late 70s and was still going on the roof fixing shingles or crawling through the attic to check the wiring. Even though he was an electrician, his physical abilities were waning, and he had a very bad shoulder. The last thing an EMT needed to do was crawl into the attic to retrieve him. It was very hard for him to admit he couldn’t do those projects anymore.

It’s amazing how the years go by, and we find ourselves nearing the point where we told him to stop it. It was a hard pill for my father-in-law to swallow, and his apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

Hubby and I had water in the crawl space of our house and after pulling out several plants, we found the problems. Between our house and the one next door (in this neighborhood, houses are very close together), there was a hole next to our foundation, drainage came toward the house, and a leaky drip irrigation system added water to the mix. Nothing earth-shattering, but very earth-moving.

I admire Hubby for all his hard work. First, the plants had to go, the bark raked up, and the ground cloth removed. The air conditioning unit had to be moved by an AC repairman. A new irrigation hose had to be installed. He found a source for free fill and hauled multiple truckloads of it. He shoveled, tamped, and raked wheelbarrow-fulls of it along the foundation to shape it so that water goes away from the house. I helped tamp and compact and put the new irrigation hose in. We only had one kneeling pad (Hubby lost his knee pads) so it was hard on his knees. I tamped for a while but can’t hold a candle to all that Hubby did. I really wasn’t much help.

For a week, he’s worked very hard, and is finally at the part where he’s putting it all back together again. Our neighbor’s high-school-aged nephew came to help Hubby put down the pavers. New bark will go down after that. The AC unit will return to its base in time for summer.

In the olden days, this would have been busy work, but now that we’re “getting up there,” it takes a toll with muscles aches, back aches, and fatigue. What used to be relatively easy labor has turned into arduous labor. The arms and back aren’t as strong. The stamina is diminished. DIY projects are much harder. Paying someone else to do the hard work becomes more attractive.

Being able to do things empowers people. Being called a handyman is a high compliment, someone other people love to have around. Having the title taken away is a sad reminder of the passage of time. It’s an admission of mortality. For some men, it’s almost equal to having driving privileges taken away.

At what point does a DIY-er hang up his hammer? When it’s dangerous to their health and body. Having the courage to admit you can’t do some of the things you used to is admirable. It’s time to move from doer to teacher. A DIY starts sharing knowledge and teaching skills. It’s a legacy to the next generation. Old DIY-ers never quit, they become supervisors. And if that fails, support a local small business and hire someone to do the job for you.

2 Comments
  1. It’s tough getting old. Part of the trouble is that my self-image can’t keep up with the actual years. Internally I think of myself as 30; but wow, the body tells the truth. Thanks for the reminder. It may be time to slow down in certain areas of life.

    1. Well put. I keep wondering who that old lady in the mirror is, and it’s me. If the mirror showed who I see in my mind, I’d be in my 30s.

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