By: Rebecca Perlman Coniglio, LCSW
Author of Lily’s Little Life Lessons
My husband, Brian, and I moved into our house seven years ago. In order to get into our house you have to walk up onto a small deck and then into the back door into the kitchen. So that makes the deck a pretty important part of the house. For about seven years now I have said that I felt the deck was not safe. It felt unsteady below my feet, not to mention as the years went on it got worn out and became more and more of an eye sore. You would have to know Brian to fully appreciate the way that he calmly addresses my daily fears about well stuff. He would assure me that the deck was fine. He even had some people look at it to appease me, but of course that never worked. So about three times a week for seven years I would say things like, “I am going to fall to my death one of these days on this bleeping deck.” Brian, cool as a cucumber, has mastered the art of blocking out these kinds of remarks.
Together we talked about how we would eventually address the deck issue. We even looked into replacing the deck with new fancy material, but quickly learned that it would cost a small fortune, so another year would go by and snow fell, rain poured down, and the sun cooked the deck. It was old, weathered, and unattractive. To make matters worse, one day we heard a loud noise outside. Brian was doing some work downstairs and I was upstairs with our daughter, Lily. I called down to him and asked him to see what was happening. He reassured me in his calm way that everything was fine. I guess we have a different definition of fine because when I went outside onto the deck it appeared that an animal had eaten part of our house. An acorn got stuck and a squirrel ate a part of the wood that connects the deck to the house. You cannot make this stuff up! So now every time I walked out of the house and back into the house, I had to see this hot mess of a deck.
About a week ago I looked at Brian and I said that we had to do something about the deck. You should have seen the look of terror in his eyes. I knew immediately he was thinking, “what is this going to cost me.” I called a man who had done some work on our house who we trusted and asked him for a name of someone who could possibly fix the deck. He told me to call a guy named Kevin. I did right away and Kevin called right back, a good sign. Kevin came the Friday of Memorial
Day weekend, so Brian, Lily, and I were all home. Kevin pulled his van in the driveway, got out and started to look at our sad deck. Brian and I liked him right away. He seemed honest, sincere, and knowledgeable. He was the perfect guy for Brian because he was funny and not pushy. Kevin is a big man and as he climbed up on our shaky deck, I thought it would buckle under him for sure. We talked to Kevin for a while; well we tried to as Lily pleaded for a piece of cake. It was 9am but that is ok. Anyway, here is the best part. Kevin looked around and said, “This deck is DANGEROUS.” Apparently there was supposed to be a part underneath the deck to secure it, but it was missing. Seven years people, seven years. I had been saying that I thought the deck felt unsteady. I wish you could have seen Brian; he turned a shade of green that matched the slim growing on the deck. Kevin smelled Brian’s fear and said, “Here is what I am going to do, I am going to strip the deck, secure it, and stain it.” I was chiming in, “Are you sure we don’t just need a whole new deck?” He said, “Let me clean it and see what is underneath.” I had no idea what he was talking about, but Brian agreed to the price and we went back inside. I was skeptical but something made me believe in Kevin. Lily had her cake and went about watching her favorite TV show, so Brian and I sat at our kitchen table and looked out the back door as Kevin got to work.
Before our shocked eyes, Kevin sprayed, scrubbed, and used a large loud machine and all of a sudden deep below years of neglect, harsh winters, hot summers, there were signs of new wood. The wood started to get lighter and by the time he finished it literary looked like a new deck. I did not think that was possible. Brian and I were so excited. We brought Lily over to see the deck and just like Lily she seemed to care less and ran off singing. Didn’t she understand what just happened? First of all someone listened to me, and then he peeled back the layers and brought the deck back to life right in front of our eyes.
A few days later, Kevin came back and secured the deck. He even fixed the piece that our friendly neighborhood squirrel had chowed down on. With each step, we felt happy. We thanked Kevin for his time and the pride he took in his work. I truly think he was just as pleased at how he had saved our poor little deck. The last step was the stain. Kevin put the stain on and then later that night it rained as hard as it did during Hurricane Irene. Brian was convinced that the deck was going to be ruined. For once I was the calm one. I told him that the deck was better than it ever had been, and I meant it.
The more I think about it, the more I think that we are all in some way like the deck. We all have layers of disappointment, frustration, long hard days, and pain. If we neglect ourselves we too can become like our old deck. We can become worn out, unsafe, and unappealing to be around. What if we all had a Kevin to come and clean us with care, dedication, knowledge, and skill? What if he showed up when he said he would and followed through until the job was done. What would be beneath our layers? What would you find deep inside? What joy would that bring to you and to others? Once you were feeling shiny and new, the rain may come, but you will weather the storm just fine.
I can imagine myself now walking out the door onto the deck and heading out for the day on my restored, bright, clean, and very safe and sturdy deck. Just the thought makes me smile. I hope Kevin knows what he was able to do with his ability to see the possibilities of what was beneath the layers of time.