It had been bugging me for weeks. The weather was off-and-on warm -- not hot but warmer. That meant for my family that there was the possibility they might sweat and so they turn on and down the air conditioner. I want to open windows, but they just hit the magic button and the house cools down. Now I do want them to be comfortable, especially the Mrs. She has occasional periods of time when regardless of the temperature she is on fire, but I digress. So what was bugging me – no, not the battle over the use of the A/C -- it was the filter. I knew it was way past the time to change it, and if I didn't get it done, it would just be that much harder on the old system. So I went to the store at 9 o'clock at night and got two of them.
While I was out, I got to thinking about who would do all that stuff if I wasn't here to do it. If I wasn't here when the wood trim needed to be replaced or the dryer wasn't drying. I suppose it is all relative, and there are plenty of service companies offering the help. But thinking about it, I just felt like there are a lot of things I do and that I should probably write a manual in case something happens to me.
Chapter One: Mechanical and Home. This list of course includes all types of things like A/C filters and toilet flappers. I would say that there needs to be a regularly scheduled walk of each room and facility. Check for loose screws on doors and knobs, check for tight mounting on toilet paper holders, check for dryer vent cleanliness, light bulbs and window screens. The gutters, French drains, fertilizing of the yard and bug control need to be in this chapter. Gas for the blower, mower and weed eater needs to be available but not overstocked and never, never leave fuel in the equipment for a long period of time.
Chapter Two: The Partnerships. The obvious ones are at work. Deadlines, scheduling, creative elements and meetings. This is a tough one. I guess that a look back at my day timer would explain a lot, and a blanket email to everyone on my contacts would get some of it done. But these are the things in life we are just set out to do. We can be replaced, mostly, for the tasks, but our creative and personal touches are hard to match if we are truly engaged in what we do.
Chapter Three: The personal part of the manual is going to be really hard to get everything down. Again, the mechanical decisions will happen. The tire for my daughter’s truck or a baseball bat for my son. The financial can be taken over by mom. Moms do this stuff all the time. The bill payer who sneaks a few bucks into a savings account each month or handles the taxes and knows the nuances of the family CPA.
But it's the male figure, the father leading the family, final answer, decision maker, the real dad stuff. It's the arm around my boys when they need a guy to tell them job well done. It's the conversations on the way to school each morning with my boy, a dad praying over his son, blessing him, encouraging him before he steps onto the school grounds. It's those times only dad knows when to push the boy to do just a little more, stay on it, go, lift, hold, run, stand, look, do hard things. How to use a hammer and the importance of opening the door for a girl. To listen to a business plan or a struggle in his first years of marriage. To celebrate the victories, successes and joys with him guy to guy.
This section has to find a way to fill the needs of my daughter too. How to comfort a daughter who needs to know safety is only as far away as daddy. A daddy is the hard guy who says no but hugs her and tells her how proud he is of her and how beautiful she is. Who teaches her to do hard things, to stand strong in her convictions, shoot a gun, gut a deer, buy auto parts. Daddy teaches, shows by his example, to never settle for a guy who does not open her door or want to meet her parents, go to church or listen to her.
How do I explain the little nuances I have learned about my wife over the last 20 years that are absolutes. Movies, dreams, favorite snacks and workout tapes. The joy she gets from cleaning the house and that there is one laundry soap allowed.
Chapter four: warranties and guarantees. There are so many examples in the Bible where only God had the answer. Where He was the blessing, the caregiver, the rock, the joy, the guide. The only way I can figure out how to get chapter three to work is to instill the heartfelt knowledge of our heavenly Father in my kids and for my wife to feel it from me while I am here. For them to know He is there no matter what and by that they get strength to go to Him for comfort and direction and find a safe haven.
This is really the most important part of the manual. It is the last chapter that should probably be the first. God is the Guy who services the warranties and guarantees. He even wrote them down for us (Bible) so we would have them handy.
I guess it boils down to: There is an extra a/c filter in the closet, fertilize two times a year, and as my buddy Joe Don Mayes always says, "Read the Bible; do what it says". Seems simple, right?