Posted by: cordy74 | March 25, 2009

Chronicles of Dad 3: Door Locks and Rotten Roofs

Disclaimer:  In no way, shape or form do I intend the posts in this category to imply that my dad is a buffoon, clumsy or accident prone. He is a very intelligent, albeit somewhat deaf, man who just happens to occasionally stand in the wrong place at the worst possible time. Growing up with my dad could sometimes be exciting – perilously so. Several people have enjoyed hearing these stories from time to time. I now feel it is time to bring them to a wider audience.

Have you ever fallen through a rotten spot in a roof?  Better yet, have you ever fallen through only to realize you couldn’t get back out?  Well, you guessed it, my dad has had this happen.

My parents’ house sits on about 7 acres of partially wooded land.  The house, a 90 year old structure that has been added onto several times, sits about 30 feet away from a low, one story shed.  Just a couple of years ago Dad had a roofing company put a new roof on the house.  Once that was finished he decided the shed probably needed a new roof as well.  Fortunately the roof line had a single peak, was only about 15 feet off the ground and was a perfect job to tackle all by his lonesome.

Even though the peak of the shed roof was about 15 feet tall the eaves stood only about 8 feet of the ground and were easily accessible from a step ladder.  Once the existing roofing material had been cleared off Dad could see most of the rotten spots that needed to be repaired.  One fine weekend day Dad climbed the stepladder to the top of the shed roof with a load of plywood and began to patch these areas.

As any craftsman is wont to do, after working for a while patching holes, Dad stood to admire his handiwork.  In an effort to get a better look at what he had accomplished Dad took a couple of steps back.  Unfortunately while admiring a section that was now solid he happened to step backward onto a portion that had yet to be repaired.  Once his weight was fully on the bad section Dad proceeded to plunge through the roof to the dirt floor about 13 feet below.

The shed was primarily used as storage for Dad’s 1947 Diamond T flatbed truck (at any given time in various states of restoration), garbage bags of crushed Diet Mountain Dew cans and assorted odds and ends and bits of scrap lumber and metal.  One particular odd or end within the shed happened to be a tire rim, sans tire, from a dually dump truck.  This rim just happened to be positioned perfectly beneath the rotten spot in the roof through which Dad plummeted.

I’m sure that Dad’s trip through the roof was not so cartoonish that his eyes grew wide with dawning fear as he hovered in midair for a second before succumbing to gravity, creating a Dad-shaped hole in the roof, to be followed shortly by his glasses and hat which stayed in-place above the roof  (hat slowly twirling around and around) just long enough to elicit a laugh from the audience.  It’s not like he is Elmer Fudd or Wile E. Coyote and will not fall after running off the edge of a cliff until someone hands him a treatise on gravity.  Dad is human and just as susceptible to that harsh mistress, gravity, as any of us.

On his way through the roof Dad must have either tried to grab at or caught part of his body on the edge; enough, at least, to allow him to avoid falling completely vertically and escaping a possible broken leg.  Dad managed to land somewhat on his side on the tire rim, absorbing some of the shock with his right hand and arm.

Once he had landed firmly on the rim Dad proceeded to attempt to stand up.   Realizing his hand and side hurt a little too much to stand right away he instead sat on the rim.  After a few minutes Dad decided he should probably go ahead and leave the shed and go in the house to recuperate for a few minutes.  Upon walking to one of the doors in the shed Dad realized it was locked, from the outside, with a padlock.  A quick (as quick as you can while limping) inspection of the other door revealed the same problem.  He was locked inside the shed.

Realizing the gravity of his predicament Dad decided to pull out his cell phone and call my mom who was in the house taking a nap.  Checking his pockets, Dad discovered that he no longer had his cell phone.  A quick check of the dirt around his landing area did not turn up the phone either.  It was at this point that Dad remembered taking the phone out of his pocket and setting it on the roof next to his drink in an effort to avoid damaging it while working.  While not the greatest idea in retrospect, the phone being set on the roof did allow it to avoid being damaged during the fall.  Dad then did what he thought was best:  he sat down and lit up a smoke.

About 15 or 20 minutes after Dad’s trip through the roof Mom woke up from her nap and went to the living room window to check on him.  Since she did not see Dad on the portion of the shed roof visible from the window Mom decided to go out and check on him.  Once out of the house she did not see him on top of the roof and decided to walk around to the other side of the shed.  Upon walking past one of the walk-in doors she happened to glance in the window and spied Dad sitting on the tire rim, smoking his cigarette.  Dad, happening to glance up at just the right moment, saw Mom looking in at him and smiled and waved at her.

Once Mom had unlocked the door to the shed and released Dad back into the wild he relayed the story of his travels from the roof to the ground, most likely laughing all the while.  After sitting for a while in the house Dad began to realize that he may have done a little more than merely bruised himself as his wrist began to swell and throb and he had difficulty drawing a deep breathe because of the pain in his side.

At the point where most people witness a knot growing from the side of their wrist or they have trouble breathing deeply they will go to a doctor.  When you are the self-proclaimed “Man of Steel” doctors become an unnecessary extravagance.   Dad never did much to take care of the injury to his wrist aside from taking ibuprofen.  The pain in his ribs was a different matter.

Realizing that the pain in his ribs caused by deep breathing and, to be honest, simply laying in bed was probably the  result of a broken rib Dad proceeded to take action.  Knowing that a doctor would probably just wrap him tightly about the chest with an Ace bandage Dad searched the house for something with which to hold himself together while the healing process began.  Not finding an elastic bandage Dad used what he thought was the next best thing:  a wide leather belt.

Believe it.  Dad took a wide leather belt and cinched it across his chest to ease the pain caused by the broken rib.  He also slept on the couch in the living room every night for the next week due to the fact that the bed was too soft and apparently did not lend enough support to keep the pain from flaring up.  The next time you think you have broken a rib try to remember the three key ingredients to wellness:  a leather belt, plenty of ibuprofen and time…lots and lots of time.

Within a couple of weeks Dad was able to refrain from using the belt and had regained almost full use of his wrist and hand.  The knot took a little longer to fully disappear as did the ocassional pain in his ribs.  To this day Dad has never had a doctor look at his wrist or ribs so we really have no proof that anything was broken.  Perhaps the Man of Steel exists, he’s just getting a little rusty in his latter years.


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