Since today is the memorial of St. Elizabeth Seton, who is the patron saint of my oldest daughter, I called her to wish her a happy feast day. Her oldest daughter answered the phone, and told me that she hadn't had school today, which meant my daughter hadn't had to drive the high school carpool. I asked if Elizabeth were out somewhere with one of the younger children, and she said, "No, she's up on the roof," in her nonchalant way. I asked if she knew what her mother was doing on the roof, and she said she thought she was putting tar on it. This statement brought up a rather odd picture in my mind, although I'm suspecting that she is possibly trying to staunch a leak, since their roof is getting quite old. I suppose I will get the rest of the story at some point, but while my first reaction was one of surprise that she should be up there attempting repairs--certainly understandable with the prediction of rain for the rest of the week--it also brought back memories from years ago when I was up on a roof helping friends with a re-roofing job.
It was the bleak period in our marriage when my husband had lost his job, we had no savings, and the months were dragging on with no prospect of another job in sight. Friends of ours were about to put a new roof on their house, and they offered to pay us to help take off the old roof. Not only was I thankful for the opportunity to make a little money, but having been a tomboy as a child, it seemed like an adventure as well. We had only three children at the time, who were all quite small, and they stayed in the house with our friends' older children while we clambered about on the roof, tearing off the old roof, and then nailing boards in between the boards that were already up there, so the new roof could be attached to that. It was fairly easy to do the deconstruction, since we had footholds between the boards, but as the fill in boards went in, the roof became more slippery. Rain was predicted for that evening, so as evening approached, the men who were left working on the roof primarily were concerned with getting tarps on over the areas that weren't fully covered yet. Once that was done, we all came in the house, where our friends had a huge pot of spaghetti and sauce for all of us, and I remember total silence as we all chowed down, ferociously hungry after a long day of physical labor. Seldom has any food tasted so ambrosial as that simple meal flavored with the sense of a job well done, and the knowledge that the money we'd earned meant we could now buy shoes for our daughters. Our friends probably could have just given us the money, but instead they built up our self-respect (especially my husband's), we had a wonderful day of fellowship, and I have warm memories of that day thanks to friends who are still dear to me.