My spring break started with a bang. Literally. I came home on Friday after classes to meet my parents and their sledgehammer. The plan was to start tearing out the old tile and pull up the linoleum if we could. Easy job. No big deal. We ( the collective we) had done this lots of times.
The first smack with the sledge hammer usually shatters the outter tile tells you what you are looking at underneath. Mom got the first whack at it. When she smacked it, it bounced off. This is never a good sign. We were all very silent. Perhaps it was a fluke. Maybe it was just one really strong tile. This time she REALLY hit it. A piece chiped off and hit the mantle 20 feet away. Shit!
Now dad cannot stand the suspense and grabs the REALLY big hammer. Dad is an old military guy and ball player. He is not a spring chicken but he is still strong as an ox if the occasion calls for it. He whacked the tile and another couple of small pieces flew off, one making it the sliding glass door.
So the score sat at tile 3 us a big fat zero.
Mom looked at me and I looked at her. We had to go get grout and I sublty suggested that we go to Home Despot. They rent tools and she knew it. As we got to the car, I told her:
"I know that they rent jackhammers."
My father is fiscally conservative and kept saying " Oh I think that we can get it with the big hammer." We were convinced otherwise.
After a quick trip to the rental department, we returned with the aformentioned jackhammer. I have an indelible memory of mom in her strappy sandals running the jackhammer in goggles and a dust mask. My inner safety professional just shuttered. I offered sensible shoes but there was going to be none of that. After two hours of jackhammering in shifts the last of the tile was removed and area levelled. The dust storm will be with us for the aeons but the tile is no more.
The good Frater came home to the striking visual of my mom running a jackhammer in his entrance way. He took it with amazing aplomb.
The whole time my monkey mind kept humming "these are a few of my favorite things..." and muttering on about quality girl time.
My father was a spectator until the very end. We let him knock out a few tiles just so he could say he had run it. Mainly he was our photographer and head broom guy. He is a sweet man and not at all threatened by women with power tools. He has a very blurry picture of me running a jackhammer on his phone. He is quite proud of that :)
When I was looking for pictures for the blog I realized that we who run jackhammers out of choice owe a great deal to our grandmothers. Those ladies did it for the war effort, but they did it. My grandmother built bombers as a riveter because she was 4'10" and could fit inside the wings. She did it as a form of protection for my grandfather. He was in the Pacific Theater and she hoped that something she worked on would help to bring him home safely.
She told her daughters the stories. And they told their daughters the stories. I can thank my grandmother, my mother and my aunts for my ability to chose an odd career. when my aunt announced that she wanted to be an architecht in high school, her counsellor told her to pick something ladylike - like sewing. My grandmother marched down to the school and explained to the counsellor that she build airplanes in WWII and if her daughter wanted to be an architecht then she would be damned if she was going to allow her to be stopped because it was unladylike. Like most things they eventually say it her way.