Misadventures with Dad
To the editor:
My sister and brothers and I have always agreed that one day one of us needed to write a book about the various adventures in the life of our father, Wilmot Kierstead — or, as his closest friends called him, Wimpy. He never minded this nickname and, at the time, there were not negative reflections to that name. However, all of us “kids” are now in our 60s and, since no book is in the offing, I’ve decided to share this adventure.
Dad had several good qualities and this first incident demonstrates two of these in particular: thriftiness and the ability to focus. We lived in a two-story house and this day Dad was needing to get at the second-story windows. He got out his aluminum extension ladder and, with great difficulty, extended it to the required height. You see, this once-straight ladder was now a C-shaped ladder because he’d left it out in last winter’s snow. A reasonable man would have tossed the ladder out, but when it came to tossing out things, no one who knew him would ever say Dad was reasonable. No, he was thrifty. You just had to be careful using the ladder. Come to think of it, this wasn’t one of his strong suits, either.
Dad’s idea of being careful was telling me to sit on the bottom rung while he negotiated the perilous course up the “C” of the ladder to the very top. He’d been working on the window for about 10 minutes when our rural mailman stopped at our mailbox leaving our mail and continued on his way.
Now while Dad was fully focused on his work, somehow it dawned on him that the mail had come. I believe he temporarily forgot his precarious situation because he told me to go get the mail. Looking up at him I started to say, “But, Dad, you said I was supposed to…” Interrupting me, he said, “Go get the mail.”
Knowing his impending calamity, I again said, “But, Dad, I can’t go get the mail now because…” Losing his patience but not his focus, he yelled this time, “Don’t talk back. Do what I say and go get the mail.”
Well, being the obedient son I was I got off the ladder and started walking toward our mailbox. Suddenly there was this awful scraping noise and what, in retrospect now, sounded like a throttled Tarzan yell as my father came crashing down to the ground into a couple clumsy forward rolls, The scene to me was both horrifying and comical and I broke out into a loud nervous laughter which drew the evil eye from my father.
Fortunately, the only harm this day was a badly wrenched knee, various bumps and bruises and a blow to his pride.
By the way, he kept the ladder.