Over the course of my life, I've learned a valuable life lesson. Often when things seem daunting and insurmountable, there is usually an "angel" not far away that will ease my burden--not take it away, just ease it. More often than not, that "angel" comes in the form of just a normal everyday person. Sometimes it's a friend. Most of the time it's a family member. And it never ceases to amaze me how well that particular individual's talents help to ease my burden that I'm struggling with at the time. I know it is the Lord's way of giving us His own hands through someone else's hands.
I learned this life lesson in a big way as we faced the daunting and seemingly insurmountable task of making our house livable. It was still the summer of 2000 and just heading into the first days of August. My younger brother (8 years my junior) was on a break between semesters of university and happened to be between jobs as well. A former tiling apprentice with a lot of other handyman experience, he was the "angel" that was sent to ease our burdens.
Have you ever seen the 1996 movie "Michael" starring John Travolta? That's the kind of angel my brother was--an angel dressed in overalls with strong biceps and the heart of a lion... and sometimes a temper to match. Cut from the same cloth as our grandfather, my brother often showed up wearing Grampy's old overalls. I had my own archangel in overalls.
Hubby had to work 8-5 so it was just my brother, Josh, and me... and a beat-up radio tuned to a country music station because that's what Josh was listening to at the time (had something to do with a girl he was wooing).
Just the two of us and the radio playing country music
I'd get to the house first after driving the 35 miles from our apartment that we had until the end of the month. Josh would eventually roll up in his big Ford Bronco having driven almost the same distance to come from his home. I got to where I could hear the low rumble of the Bronco coming down our quiet street before I ever saw it.
Hubby and I hadn't completely demolished the bathroom, so Josh started tackling that monumental task. The bathroom is a small space (5 feet by 7 seven), so for my own safety I had to find other things to keep me occupied elsewhere in the house while he blasted away at the walls with hammer and crowbar in hand.
A friend had graciously lent me her steamer and, wanting to get it back to her as soon as possible, I busied myself steaming wallpaper off the walls despite the 90-100F (32-37C) temps outside. Can you say "insane"? Fortunately, the nasty pink and green plaid wallpaper that covered the kitchen ceiling was so caked with 60 years of cooking grease that it just came off with a mere tug of my hand without any steam required. But the ghastly tomato-print wallpaper in the laundry area wasn't as cooperative unfortunately. It had to be steamed off... one little strip and shred at a time amidst billowing clouds of steam.
When I ran out of wallpaper to steam, I busied myself stripping paint off various surfaces I intended on refinishing--doors, cupboards, cabinets. It was a water-soluable non-toxic stripper that looked an awful lot like snot. Josh would inadvertantly lean on a slathered surface on a regular basis.
When in doubt for what to do next, I stripped paint
After getting a handful one time when he leaned against the kitchen cabinets to rest, he finally said to me in exasperation, "What's with you and this monkey snot?"
I replied, "Well, I have to do something while you're working!" And from that point on the joke was that if Cindy was ever in doubt as to what to do, she would strip paint.
While I was steaming wallpaper and spreading "monkey snot" all over, Josh was demolishing the bathroom and doing a great job of it. He got all the walls down to the studs and the floor down to the severely water-damaged sub-flooring. He took out the toilet without much effort.
The toilet was out
Then we both stood there staring at the 1940's era heavy steel tub that stood in the way of the rest of the demolition. Obstacle No. 1: the tub had to weigh at least 250-400 lbs. Obstacle No. 2: at 60 inches, the tub was as long as the bathroom was wide. Obstacle No. 3: the adjacent doorway, even with the door removed from its hinges, was only 28 inches wide. Obstacle No. 4: beyond the doorway was a narrow hallway and many turns before any exit to the outside. Obstacle No. 5: it was just me and Josh.
Obstacle No. 4
I was completely stumped. But I shouldn't have been.
I wasn't in the room, when Josh chose to take up the battle with the bathtub. I really can't recall exactly where I was.
I just remember Josh rather nonchalantly approaching me and saying, "The bathtub's out."
I was stunned. He had to be kidding!
But he wasn't. He led me out to the garage, and there was the bathtub teetering on top of the growing demolition pile. And Josh had done it single-handedly without cutting the bathtub or any of the framing studs that it had been jammed between.
Where the behemoth of a bathtub lost its battle with Josh
I kept asking him in stunned amazement, "How did you do that?"
And he really couldn't give me an answer that made any sense. He tried to describe how he managed to get underneath the bathtub and lift it out of that tight space all by himself. And then how he managed to carry it to the garage. It all seemed so impossible and surreal, I just couldn't get me head around it. Even to this day, he just chuckles about it.
That was the first of many herculean feats that I would witness Josh perform on behalf of us and our house.
Yup, I had an archangel in overalls.