When I was a kid, my next door neighbor seemed to always be painting the exterior of his house and especially the gutters.
Fast forward to when I was around 30, had moved away, but was making frequent visits home.
I recall a visit when my dad’s health was just beginning to fail and he was fretting over having to hire a house painter for the first time. Growing up, l had been a dutiful participant in 5 or 6 dreaded spring house painting marathons when we would scrape then slather 2 coats of PPG Lexington Grey on every square inch of our home’s exterior.
It was shear torture on my ADD, executive dysfunction, procrastinating soul. Exponentially so, as I knew none of those things about myself at that point. And years later, after both my parents passed away, their personal papers & records revealed my mom to be the genetic source. But that’s another story.
My dad’s linear time discipline was impeccably honed to maximum productivity. The laser like focus he could muster for a manual task or a complex project was awe inspiring.
His capitulation to mortality was a source of great frustration. He mostly kept it to himself because he was no whiner. But his reaction to hiring a painter seemed disproportionately negative. I thought it was the money. Turns out he just liked painting the house. The guy was a multi-discipline applied scientist. He was no house painter. My neighbor Ed, he was the house painting fanatic & lover, or so I thought.
In my signature circuitous fashion, here’s the punch line. I visited my neighbor Ed on that same trip as he was battling lung cancer. We talked house painting. He acknowledged sympathy for my dad not being able to paint his own house because he knew the joy, relaxation & pride it provided him. Not sure how I missed that, but offered up to Ed my sympathy that he could no longer paint. I figured if my dad missed it, Ed must really miss it. Ed looked at me like I was nuts and said, “house painting was drudgery for me and I hated it.” Turns out he was always painting his house so it never needed painting. He proudly proclaimed that in 50 years he never once painted for more than 30 minutes. In fact, it was exactly 30 minutes, 3 times a week, from March to August. I didn’t notice that part.