We asked a plumber who was in for a different problem for advice on the flooding. He said there was no way the drainage could be improved, that our best bet was to shelter the stair well to prevent rain from entering in the first place. Our plumber is a genius.
So, I built the 10' X 4' roof out of decking lumber and some kind of plastic roofing I discovered in Lowes. This was a huge project for me. Designing the thing strained my neurons. Figuring out the pitch, calculating how to cut angles on the lumber, determining how to anchor the structure to the house and to posts set outside the house--it pressed me to the limit. Then there was the physical part--the cutting, heaving pieces into place, fastening with screws and lag bolts, securing the roofing--every large and small muscle in my body aches now. But I did it. I've got a functional, not-bad-looking shelter over the stairwell. Let it rain.
What's all this got to do with gratitude and my parents? Well, my dad taught me everything I know about tools and building. He grew up in a family of carpenters and passed some of his knowledge on to me. I am so, so grateful for what he taught me. I wish I could thank him, but he died in 1982. I am as certain as I am about anything that there is no part of him that continues to exist to receive my gratitude.
Of course, after my dad died my mom had it rough. She struggled so hard to cope that she was stricken by cancer within a couple of years after he died. Nonetheless, she continued to be a mother to me. I'll never forget one of the Christmas gifts she gave me the year my father died: one of those 10' extension cord boxes that winds up for storage. I was excited when I got that gift because I knew how useful it would be, and I was right. I've used it so many times, most recently in my Labor Day roofing project. My mom also taught me so many things and cared for me in so many ways, right up until her cancer came back and took her two years ago. I wish I could thank her somehow. I have a file drawer full of her unpublished short stories. I would love to publish them, even if only on the net. But even if I did she would not know this gesture of appreciation.