Hangin’ with My Dad

Dr. Steven J. Callis

The internet can be a great resource of “how-to” for most any project.  One can learn the best way to clean automobile windshields, change a flat tire, fold shirts, bake lasagna, write a resume, sharpen a lawnmower blade, tie a tennis shoe lace, treat a strained muscle, change the line on a fishing reel – you name it, and chances are very good that it can be found on the internet.

My dad was a handyman around the house.  He had a mind of logic and common sense that enabled him to fix almost anything.  He did not have the internet resources of our day, and he was in car sales by trade, but he had the mind of an engineer.  If something did not fit, or a part was missing, he figured out a way to make it work anyway.

Dad also had a knack for picture hanging and arranging.  When we moved in to our first house out of seminary – a church-owned parsonage – mom and dad came to visit and to see “my first church.”  We had done little decorating, so dad offered ideas on room arrangement, and he found the ‘perfect’ places to hang all of our pictures, plaques, and such.  He made it look so easy!

Hanging wall décor can require a bit of creativity.  Most of us have among our collection some pieces that just do not seem to match anything or fit anywhere.  Some are odd shaped, some are too heavy for standard hanging, and some suggest they might look better in a closet!  Nothing was too big of a challenge for my dad.  He was a quiet, unassuming gentleman, but we felt his confidence and assurance as he went about the task of transforming our bare walls into an at-home feeling.

So, you can imagine how special it was to me when our daughter and son-in-law asked me to help them hang wall décor in their new house.  First, it simply felt esteeming to be helpful, useful.  Second, the invitation immediately brought back memories of my dad.

As we began the process of arranging and hanging pictures, mirrors, cork boards, baseball memorabilia, curtain rods, and coat racks, I sensed the same confidence that I had felt in my dad when he was the chief picture hanger.  Assuming my inherited role, I hung some pieces, found the wall studs and drilled some holes for the heavier items, and passed along a few little how-to secrets – yet hoping in my heart that they would still need my help next time.

This is not a monumental discovery of mine alone, but I have come to realize that children never outgrow the need for their parents (though the needs change), and parents never outgrow the joy of helping their children and being a part of their lives.  Recently I saw a Facebook post that read, “You think it is hard to look at your kid’s messy room, just wait until you see it empty!” I get that!

Certainly, grandchildren are special and I take pride in ours, but they do not take the place in my heart for my own kids.   And someday, just maybe, my children will become the chief picture hangers for their grown children.

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