Decorating, Family, Humor

My Dad & “I” Built a Picket Fence

I love our fence and the reminder of the love of my family. 🙂 

First published November 5, 2018

I was thinking of things to keep me occupied at home when Mike and I were driving home from dropping Anna off at college, so I wouldn’t miss her as much as I did at that moment. I had an idea while we were traveling through corn fields of central Illinois: I want a picket fence for my house, and I want my father to help me build it. I planned to make lemonade out of lemons, or at the very least, picket fences out of two by fours (no clue how any of that works).

So there is a history with our family and picket fences in that my father has built a lot of them in his day. I don’t know the whole story, but let’s just say it may have started with my mother wanting a pretty little picket fence and knowing just the guy to ask. 

Enter my dad.

My father is fantastic at things like woodworking, analytics, arithmetic, angles, and the Pythagorean theorem. I, on the other hand, am not very good at any of those things, which bothers me. Genetically, I appear to be following in my father’s footsteps in terms of health, but sadly, not in terms of anything educational. 

So I asked my father to help me build yet another picket fence for the family. This time, in my front yard, to line the walk to our front door. I was hoping that by building a fence together as father and daughter, we would be able to heal my heart, which is currently missing my oldest child, who is away at college.

That was back in mid-August.

Fast forward to mid-October and no fence had been constructed.

Life gets away from you.

Also, one never mentioned to one that one gets a lot more done when one less person is vacating your residence.

But thank God for my dad to remind me that “we” had plans.

My father appeared in my driveway the day before we were supposed to begin our project, like the Home Depot fairy with cement and boards and other materials. I’m not sure how any of the items in the back of his vehicle will become a fence, but I trust him implicitly.

He also made all the pickets. My dad is a superhero.

So I need to give you some backstory.

Mike was talking to me one day about this project and I was all, HOLD IT RIGHT THERE SPORTY, THIS IS A FATHER-DAUGHTER PROJECT.

Listen, I love my husband dearly and I enjoy spending time with him, but I had intended for this to be only my dad and me.

I don’t live with my dad, time is precious, and honestly, we’ve done nothing like this before and I really wanted to bond over this.

The day of the project, the temperature reached a high of 45 degrees with a wind chill of roughly 35 degrees. I don’t do cold very well, and did you know that building a fence requires a lot of digging? I swear I believed Satan was going to appear and start assisting us.

Yes, those are flats with socks I am wearing. DID I MENTION THERE WAS A LOT OF DIGGING AND IT WAS 45 DEGREES??

So day one consisted of my dad and Mike putting up the fence posts while I took pictures, got boards and pickets, and occasionally helped dig to Hell. We had the beginnings of a picket fence after eight hours of hard work. They decided to call it a day because it was growing darker and colder.

But I want to be transparent and let you know this because it won’t sit well with my conscience.

Also, thank you to my husband for letting this one slide without making a big deal.

Okay, he kind of made a big deal and teased me all day by saying YOUR project directed at me, loudly, whenever I was in earshot.

I love you, honey. You look nice today. Don’t leave me. 

The next day was Dad and me alone to do the work.

Uh oh.

Did I also mention this happened on the first day that Ella was to be homeschooled?

It happened unexpectedly, so she spent her first actual day of homeschool watching her grandpa and mom finish the fence in the rain.

Oh, and the dog crying incessantly from the house because mommy was outside without him.

My father and I worked alone the next day in 45-degree weather, wind, and this time, rain! It turns out that Satan was helping us! During all of this, it became evident that I did not inherit my father’s disposition. When I unintentionally held a picket in the wrong direction and he had to pull out all the nails and re-hammer them in, he was extremely patient.

My patient dad patiently lining up the pickets to make sure they were even.

Pencil lines to mark where the pickets go. In the rain.

During our work in the rain, I kept thanking the universe for how fortunate I was to have the father I did. A father who comes to your house while you’re in a post-college drop off funk and builds a picket fence masterpiece in your front yard. Then it occurred to me that Mike and I would do the same for our children if they asked. It made me realize that, while I don’t think I got a lot of my dad passed down those DNA rails, I actually did. I got the stuff that counts. The good stuff. 

When it was all said and done, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I actually helped my father build a picket fence! Those two-and-a-half hours I spent in the rain finishing up this project was some of the best stuff I’ve done in a long time.

Ella and I painted the fence a few days later, and while doing so, she asked about Papa and his woodworking skills.

How did he get this skill?

Tell me the story of why Papa builds picket fences. 

I’d like to learn how to build picket fences for my children someday.

It turns out, Ella got some of the good stuff too.

While we were painting the fence, Anna told me about a stranger she talked to on the train who was struggling with a life issue. She told me she prayed for him. It turns out Anna got some of that good stuff as well.

Every time I look at our picket fence, I think of my father and his loving talents. I didn’t need a fence to remind me of his love for me and my family, but it’s nice to have a daily reminder of it. I will think of the first autumn that Anna was away at college, and while it was sad not to have her with us, it was also okay too. That change isn’t a bad thing, it’s part of life. Sometimes it’s good to have something in your life that serves as a reminder of that.

It turns out this picket fence is more than just a fence. It’s a daily reminder of how amazing my family is.

I wish that for everyone.

20 thoughts on “My Dad & “I” Built a Picket Fence”

  1. I’m so glad you had that time with him and a daily reminder of his awesomeness. Patience is a virtue and I’m in awe of people who can work through conditions that would have me screaming and cursing. It’s a gift. (This weekend, I literally went to the basement and screamed at the top of my lungs after throwing hedgehog napkins in the package across the room when a recipe tanked.) My dad had the construction gene (he’s an engineer) but I got bits and pieces. Just enough to be dangerous but not enough to be handy. It’s also good Ella got involved because she takes some ownership in it too. (BTW, I told my hubby about the name of your school, he said that was the most awesome thing ever.)


  2. Ah, I love this one! I have a dad who sounds a lot like yours. Mine was a machinist, which requires one to be very very VERY particular about things. I did not necessarily inherit that trait. He has the tidiest workshop I’ve ever seen, and nothing is ever kinda busted at his house. I aspire to be more like that. It could happen!


  3. This post straight up has me crying. It’s so beautiful. Also, that fence is gorgeous! Dads are awesome. Well, not my dad, but your dad! Sort of kidding. My dad is awesome in his own way, just not the come over and build a fence kind of way. I’ve always wanted a picket fence, and now that I have a house, we’ve been talking about building one. I didn’t realize it was so much work! I mean sure everyone has told me it is. But there is something different about actually seeing it.


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