I watched my mom roll up my dad’s sleeves hundreds of times. He didn’t like the way short-sleeve shirts restricted his arms when he was working, and he got in the habit of rolling up his sleeves no matter what the occasion. Or maybe it was because that’s what teens of the 50s did. Regardless of the reason, he wanted his sleeves rolled up twice, the size of the hem. He couldn’t do it himself. Or maybe he could have, but he relied on my mom to do it for years.
Then I got old enough, and I assume one day mom probably wasn’t available, and he asked me to do it. I stood on the chair so I could reach well, and I did the best I could.
My dad was strong – one of the strongest people I’ve ever known. From as early as I can remember, he would let me stand on his hand, and he’d lift me high in the air. I don’t ever remember being scared. If I lost my balance, I knew he’d catch me.
Rolling up dad’s sleeves always reminded me of how strong he was. As he got older, he wasn’t as picky about his sleeves, but when he had me roll them up, I noticed the difference in his arms. He was still strong, but his arms had changed.
We all change.
That’s why he asked me to roll his sleeves that first time. I had changed enough that I was capable.
I don’t remember a single time my dad didn’t give me a chance at something, didn’t act as if I was capable (although I’m sure he had some doubt from time to time).
It reminds me to extend the courtesy to others, to let them step up and try their own capabilities, to ask them to help me.
We all need to help. And we all need help.