In the current economic turmoil, do you cringe every time the phone rings? It feels as if, nine phone calls out of ten, the voice on the other end of the receiver is soliciting for a donation. Do you feel as if you’re pulled in a million different directions between school activities, family obligations, and church? I want to share the story of a group of people that rose to the challenge and gave of their time, money, and talent for my family.
The devastating blow came fast when my father-in-law, Darrel, was diagnosed with stage four cancer. In his typical fashion, he was concerned about his unfinished work, which was a garage roof in desperate need of repair. Unable to work on it himself, and with my husband still recovering from a semi-accident, my father-in-law mentioned he didn’t want Linda, my mother-in-law, to have to worry about the roof.
His friend Erland contacted their church and expressed the need for assistance with the roof. After all, my in-laws are both diligent workers and have generous spirits. They are the first ones to volunteer to help serve soup suppers, funeral meals, and work on clean up days at the church. My mother-in-law has played the organ at church for forty-four years.
We hoped three or four men would show up to help my husband and me, brother and sister-in-law, and our boys, but we were astonished on that Saturday morning as vehicle after vehicle arrived. The eager workers brought tools for the task at hand, food and drink, and even purchased some of the supplies. (I had wondered if we were going to have to tie my father-in-law in the chair to keep him off the roof, because under healthy conditions he would have been the first one to climb to the top of any ladder to help someone else.)
I can’t imagine how many nights and weekends it would have taken our small family to complete the tear-off and re-shingling of the garage roof, but many hands make light work. It took twenty-four people, men, women, kids, pastors, and a neighbor passing by, twelve hours to complete the job. The generous crew could have been at ballgames, lounging in their easy chairs, or tending to their own lists of endless daily chores, but instead they volunteered their precious time.
Through the eye of my camera, the day of my in-laws’ roof repair was a sight to behold. Choir members that work in an office kneeled on top of the tar paper, perhaps praying not to fall off the roof. Board members handed shingles up ladders, and the pastors were on clean up duty. The heat from the sun and the tar paper caused sweat to bead on the backs and brows of the men and women alike as they performed the physical labor of tearing off tar paper and shingles, picking up splintered wood and old shingles, hoisting shingles, hammering, stapling, and climbing up and down ladders.
Other than their modern clothing, the scene reminded me of a time when neighbors worked together. A simpler time when life didn’t seem so over-scheduled, and if your barn burnt down, your neighbors came to your aid and rebuilt it. That’s exactly what happened. As the group toiled away, our friends and even a neighbor saw the activity and came over to lend a hand. The sun set, and darkness attempted to squelch our plans, but we labored on with the help of spot lights. With all the charitable help, the task was finished in one day.
The men and women that arrived to shingle the roof aren’t a specific group or a committee. They are just individuals that are associated through church, friends, and neighbors, each having generous hearts. Each man and woman gave of their time, money, and talents to re-shingle my in-laws’ garage. The roof is more than shelter for their vehicles. It symbolizes generosity and a flashback to a gentler time when people came first. Perhaps these difficult times will bring out the best in all of us and remind us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
About the author: Victoria Roder resides in central Wisconsin with her husband Ron. Although they have three grown sons all making their way in the world, they now have a house full of misfit pets. She enjoys camping, hiking, 3D bow shooting, snowshoeing, and motorcycle riding. Please feel free to visit her website www.victoriaroder.com
time talent money caring sharing helping neighbors family friends church assistance