Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Broken Windows

New window on the left

I was a careless kid. All kids are, but it was more pronounced and remarked upon with me. My older brother had an air of maturity I’ve only just caught up to. He fixed the things he broke. Even when he sawed through an electrical line in the wall blowing himself across the room and the power in the house he rewired and patched the hole before my parents came home. I couldn’t do that even now.

I broke the basement window with a bad throw of my baseball. Not knowing how to repair it and worried I had further broken my fragile reputation as a good boy with it, I cleaned up the glass and hoped no one would find out. It took Dad half an hour to notice and know it was me. My brother would have said something. Dad asked and I denied twice before admitting in tears. He was disappointed. Not about the window but because I hadn’t come to him. He didn’t know how much I feared him not loving me.

Saturday, going out for a run, I asked my girls how long before their driveway soccer game knocked out one of the garage door windows. They shrugged, taking a wait and see approach. I smiled. The smart money would have been on eight to ten minutes.

Returning home, I saw them crouched near the door and thought one was hurt. Then I realized what was up, smiled, and laughed a little. Some glass was still in the window, some on the driveway, the rest in a bag one held while the other swept. They were sheepish. My wife had been there for the breaking and they had told her that I wouldn’t be mad. It was time to find out if they were right about me.

I began picking shards from the frame and told them to use a cardboard box for the pieces instead of a plastic bag. As we cleaned they told the story. I nodded and laughed in the right spots. What little worry they had evaporated as we got tools. I showed them how to take the moldings out and measure for new glass. Each move was me saying, we’re fine girls. We are together. You have all my love.

The window I broke as a kid had to be glazed in place. I remember the triangular points and watching Dad work the putty. . He wasn’t angry and enjoyed projects. I know now that he enjoyed having me there with him. We didn’t say much. We weren’t uncomfortable, just quiet. The window was an easy fix for him, but I was more complicated. He needed more than putty and glazing points to show I was no disappointment. It took time, but we fixed those windows long before he died.

My girls and I bought a piece of plexiglass and installed it together. Like Dad, I was happy for the project, an excuse to be with them. The new window is so clear it puts the other to shame. They’ll break that one some other day. We’re taking bets on when.

Cleaning up our tools I told them, good as new. My voice sounded just like Dad’s.