I’ve always been close to my dad since growing up.
I’m the middle child, an empath, an old soul, a peacemaker, and I always worried whether my parents and siblings were doing okay.
I’ve always been a trusted confidant to my dad. We all have roles that we play in our families, and whether or not you have discovered how your dynamics worked for you as a child and into adulthood, it’s a process that develops over time.
During the pandemic, when time really slowed down and our lives were on pause, we quickly learned that what we had control over was rather limited. I had been working full-time with my young children for many years, and in that time, my relationship with my parents changed because of logistics, busy schedules, and time restrictions.
But when I was furloughed and then laid off, I was given the gift of time. Or maybe the time was just rearranged and felt different. I found that it was in this amount of time that I was able to catch up and connect with my parents in a way that I hadn’t done before, and especially with my dad.
I knew we would be spending a lot of time in our house; however, this gave me a unique opportunity to start a home-projects list that was so often neglected while my husband and I were working full-time. My dad and I had casually come up with the idea which, at first, included small things. We called it the “pandemic projects.”
The projects we came up with included creating, organizing, and tending to things in my home. I’ll always remember this time that I spent with my dad.
Over the course of the past year, and while we had to wear a mask, my dad and I went about the house completing different items on our project list. The first thing was to create a small mudroom in our garage, which a family friend helped us with bit by bit. It kept us busy during the pandemic, but what stood out the most was the act of connecting and building something together.
Then, we hung up ladders, chairs, and different items in my garage. We created a ramp for our shed, then he helped me build the hearth in our house, which was a more thankless DIY project, but my dad was up for the job. With the help of a few YouTube videos, he broke the existing stone down, prepared the foundation, and precisely measured and grouted the space. We even picked out the tiles together.
In that moment, it was as if we weren’t really concerned about the aesthetics of what we were creating. We just took each moment, each tool, each stone, and each task as the next step. I saw these pandemic projects as a way to keep our minds fresh and help us connect.
While we weren’t able to do much in the days of the pandemic, we still tended to my house, and we did it all together. We had coffee, we came up with plans, and we kept working on small projects that were later upgraded. Of course, the upgrades were great, but the time spent with my dad was more special. I likely would have not had that time had this pandemic not happened.
It was a peculiar year—one that was filled with so much loss. We often view our lives as something we have to control or want to control. But there is so much simplicity that we can invite when we take time as a gift to be present with ourselves and our loved ones.
We don’t need much in this life, and frankly, building a bench, a ramp, or a hearth, were all nice external upgrades. But what my dad and I were really doing was spending time together. It wasn’t rushed; it wasn’t fancy. We took each week and continued on with a new project.
At the end of fall 2020, I made a calendar with all the projects we had completed. It was neat to see the things we had accomplished with the gift of our time. It reminded me of what it was like to live in a village, one where your dad and family were nearby to help you with the foundations of your home. To help you paint, to have coffee together, to break bread together, and to listen with an open heart and slow down.
It’s 2021, and coming out of this past year, I’m glad I had these moments to slow down.
I’m glad for the time I spent with my dad to be in the moment and build something together. But I saw it through another lens. My dad was helping me build my family and my home, and I’m grateful that he will always be present in my life.
I realized that relationships are so important in our lives. We can either build hearths together, or we can create busy lives. We don’t even have to agree or disagree. Sometimes, it’s just about being there, in that moment, stripped of opinions and any perceived roles.
By sharing that space together, we get to see someone’s essence.