Saturday, November 5, 2011


By Julie Rahm

Our contractor began work on our new roof this week. Our old roof was trashed. Hurricane Irene did enough damage to warrant a brand new covering for our house. Roofing is unpleasant and demanding work. Our roof is particularly difficult. It has a lot of pitch making it a real challenge to walk on. Roofing is an occupation for those sure footed and not afraid of heights. The contractor brought in a five man crew. Two workers stripped the old roof, one did clean up on the ground, while the other two nailed down the new shingles. The most difficult part for me was the color decision. I did not realize the variety of shingle colors. Thankfully, I did not allow my husband, John, to choose the color. I think he preferred a nice shade of Tarheel blue. I finally convinced him a favorite color is not a choice prerequisite. What looks nice on the basketball court or football field may not translate into an appropriate roof color. I persevered and we are having a nice shade of brown installed.

So when we (I) made the color decision, I thought all the roofing controversy was over. Until, I arrived home one afternoon and found John on the roof stripping shingles. Now, it would be impolite to reveal John’s age. However, his age well doubles the next closest worker stripping the roof. I asked him, “What the heck are you doing on the roof?” John replied, “I’m helping the guys out a bit.” Immediately, I realized I did not start a direct conversation. I didn’t say what I meant. I meant, “John, get the heck down off the roof. You might kill yourself and leave me a widow.” Not being direct gave John the opportunity to string the conversation along. But now, the conversation was at a decision point. Should I order my husband down off the roof? At considerable risk, he was three stories high proving something to himself. At what point would you intervene? John didn’t have anything to prove to me. I know he is quite capable of working all day on a roof. Perhaps he was seeing how it felt. He did some roofing work as a teenager, a long time ago. Perhaps he misses the adrenaline from flying Harriers. I don’t know what possessed him to be on our roof. However, ordering him down would injure our relationship. He might not comply. And, my lack of confidence in him would injure his pride. It was an interesting dilemma. How far would you let your husband go? How far do you let your teenager go? In life, where is the tipping point between risk and relationship? How far do you let a loved one go before you can’t stand it anymore? It is a personal decision underpinned by your level of tolerance. In the end, I corrected my mindset for worry and John remained on our roof.

If a loved one is “on your roof”, visit my website at

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