Real Help for Real Living: How I spent my summer vacation

Anthony MarcianoWhen I arrived on the first day of third grade, my teacher, Mrs. Herford, assigned us a 100-word writing composition. It was to be on, “What I did on my summer vacation.”  We all complained that it was impossible to find 100 words to put on paper.  It probably sounded like, “I spent my summer going swimming in our backyard pool, and building forts with my friends.”   I had written 16 words and had to come up with 84 more.  I groaned that it was an impossible task.


Fast forward to this summer.  My daughter and her husband, who are very artsy people, like to do creative projects at the last minute.  My son-in-law Will decided to make a “Tardis” which is from the Dr. Who series.  It looks like a British phone booth except it is blue.  It functions as a time machine.


The project started with a trip to our local home improvement store to purchase lumber and glue.  I bought an extra container of glue in case we needed it (we definitely needed it). We cleared space in the garage, set up tables and got to work. Since it was made from cardboard, we couldn’t screw the wood strips; instead, we had to glue them.  Lots of wood glue followed by electric glue sticks.  You’d think we were building a skyscraper.


The four walls were attached with hinges.  Again, we glued the hinges to the cardboard.  That worked fine on the three walls.  But when it came to the front doors that opened and closed, the hinges came loose.  We found some nuts and bolts to keep them attached.


I took the roof frame Will and his father created and attached it to the three walls.  You could feel the structure take on rigidity.  The Tardis has a glass globe on top.  We took a mason jar and attached it to the roof.  It looked great.


The glue was still drying when they used it later that night in a performance.  Everyone was in awe of the booth as well as my daughter’s performance which included her coming out of it.


What did I do this summer?  You might think that I built a blue British phone booth?  If you point to something tangible, that answer is “yes.”  But I saw it as something bigger.


I built a memory with my son-in-law.  I must confess to you that prior to this project, my wife suggested to my daughter that she ask me to help Will build it.  Her response was that I was too tired and too distracted.  My heart broke when I heard those words.  When work and the demands of day-to-day living grind us such that we are too tired and too distracted, it’s time to check our priorities.  Life moves too fast and the opportunities to spend it with the people we love goes by too fast.


Spending time with Will reminded me of the many Saturdays I spent in that garage with my two sons working on cars or other projects.  That was time well invested.


Someone once said, “Invest your life in the people who are going to cry at your funeral.”  That includes my wife, our children and their spouses (we don’t have grandchildren – we have grand-dogs).  When Will needed my help to finish the “Tardis,” every plan I had for that Saturday went away.  He became my priority.


I think Mrs. Herford would be proud of this composition.  It’s more than 100 words.  It’s more than going swimming in our neighborhood pool.  It’s about building a memory with someone I love.