Beam Me Up – An All-Saints Reflection

This is about a storm window …

And this is for all the people who find themselves talking to loved ones who have died – and who believe that every now and then they somehow feel the presence of those loved ones still with them. This is for the sadness that lives in a place that becomes deeper and deeper with the passing of time. This is for the ones who find themselves crying – crying every now and then even after all these years.

My Dad was a handyman. He repaired lamps, constructed walls, kept cars running, fixed leaky roofs. An electrical engineer by training, he was a “do-it-yourselfer” with seemingly infinite patience and perseverance. When the first attempt failed he was not discouraged. He would innovate and try something different. I am his son, but I don’t have his abilities. I became a home-owner at age 58 and the house I own doesn’t have a square square in it. The foundation is rock solid; but just like human beings, the place we live in has settled a bit. And there is a small window in the stairwell that leads up the backside of the house from the kitchen to the rooms above. Every winter for I don’t know how many years there would be ice on the inside of that window an inch thick. As I have been learning how expensive things are to “hire out” I have come to the conclusion that even if I have to do some things twice, if I do them myself I might save a buck or two. (The jury is still out on this case.)

This is for the people who have loved and often times find themselves smiling amidst the tears. It’s for all the things that we admired and all the characteristics that loved ones had that made us a little crazy when they were around. This is for the amazing fact that every one of us has a fragrance – maybe in some cases it is more of an odor … but our nose suddenly brings us back to yesterday when someone important to us was still around. We might never have noticed how the simple smell of their sweater would linger across the years and keep some part of them alive.

I measured that little window, determined that this would be the year it would get the storm window it deserved and so desperately needed. I brought the measurements to a local window store and placed the order – two to three weeks. When I picked the window up I brought it home without removing the packaging. Upon arriving at home and taking the packaging off I noticed the frame was bent. Should I try to straighten this out myself, I pondered. From somewhere I discerned the response: No! I brought the window back to the store and they straightened it in under five minutes.

I brought the window back home and was going to install it when something suggested that first I should make sure the screen and window actually worked – and they didn’t. I thought perhaps they would work after the window was hung. They didn’t. I brought the window back.

I see the problem, said the guy at the store. We can fix this if you have a few minutes to wait. Of course I have a few minutes. The frame was straightened and the problem solved.

Note to self: When purchasing items for the home, take them out of the packaging before you leave the store and make sure all moving parts actually move they way they are supposed to.

This is for all the people who wish they had some of the attributes their departed loved ones had. This is for all the people who remember how Grandpa or Mom or Aunt Flo used to be able to do this or that and make it look so simple. This is for the people who pray to God and also talk to their dead loved ones seeking advice.

And about that process of “hanging” or installing the storm window – It didn’t quite fit the window frame because, as noted above, the frame is no longer square. The left hand corner on the bottom was a full three quarters of an inch shy of a good fit. Could I really have been that far off, I wondered … Geez Dad, what should I do? Except Dad isn’t around to counsel me.

I called the store and explained the situation and they told me ever so patiently: There is an extender on the bottom of the window – you can pull that down.

Yes! I located the extender and pulled it down but I could see that this was still not going to result in the kind of fit I wanted. My Dad would have innovated. Of course, he would also have been more adept at anticipating some of the issues I was facing. But I had this feeling that I needed to be patient; I needed to persevere; I needed to be creative!

I took the extender off the bottom and slipped it on to the top of the storm window. I screwed in the eight screws along the side – four screws on the left and four on the right; and I even got to use my power drill! Because the frame is not flush all the way around and there were some residual gaps I used a caulking compound to tighten things up.

What a sense of pride came over me! But here’s the thing: I could have sworn that I heard my father saying to me: Good for you, son! And suddenly my pride melted into tears, warm liquid that mixed joy and melancholy in a pool of gratitude.


Beam Me Up


Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.