Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Call of the West...

 Call of the West...A Call for "Can-Do"

I was four-years-old when my family moved from Ohio to Arizona. The move was necessary. The prevailing theory at the time was that given the opportunity to breathe in a warm, dry climate, children could outgrow respiratory conditions such as asthma. I had asthma. It was pretty bad.


Moving to parts unknown was a challenge for my parents. Dad was leaving a good job and security. In Ohio we were surrounded by family and friends. Mom and Dad knew no one in Arizona. I only knew Mom and Dad. They didn’t know where we would live or anything when they made their decision.


What they did know was that I couldn’t breathe. They packed everything they could carry with them, loaded their asthmatic daughter in the car and headed west.


While living in Arizona, my parents built a house. When I say, “built a house,” I mean it. Literally.  I don’t mean they went to a builder, toured his model homes, picked out their floor plan and plunked down their money. They bought a plot of land, drew up their own plans, hired workers, and threw themselves into the task at hand. 


Dad worked his day job and hammered away every evening. Mom worked onsite as well, painting and laying tile. I got in on the action, too.


My first assignment was to stay out of harm’s way.  I wasn’t very good at it so I was assigned other, more interesting tasks. 

“Becky, see these scraps of wood? It would sure help if you could pick up the small ones and put them in that wheel barrow,” my dad would say. Or, “Becky, could you hand me that brick?”


I watched as my parents thought through challenges the project brought with it. This was long before the technology age. They couldn’t Google answers. 


Sometimes Dad would ask other contractors, but often my mom and dad figured things out for themselves at the kitchen table. They both grew up on farms. 


Farm life is good training ground for creative problem solving. 


Through it all I took on my own can-do attitude. For example, I salvaged one of those long scraps of wood and hammered several nails into it in a long line as a gift for my mother. It was a spool holder for her sewing thread. She cherished it. She didn’t use it as a spool holder, though. Instead, she put it on display.  


For years, I figured she didn’t use it because it was simply too beautiful. I was much older before I recognized the imperfections in my project. 

Spool Holder (In case you couldn't tell.)

For one, I should have use finish nails instead of regular nails. A spool of thread would never fit over the flat head of the carpenter’s nail. 


My mom and dad never pointed to the deficiency in my design. Instead, they applauded my effort and creativity. They encouraged me. 


Perhaps that’s what shaped me as both a teacher and a writer. It’s a good thing. I certainly could never be a carpenter. I still can’t hammer a nail worth a hoot… and I still have trouble staying out of harm’s way. 


Through those experiences, I learned to try new things, there is always a solution to a problem, and you can do anything you set your mind on accomplishing. 


But the big lesson my parents imparted was one of facing life’s challenges with a sense of adventure. 


For that…and for the capability to breathe, I will always be grateful.

Rebecca Waters now lives in a house built on the farm once owned by her grandparents in West Chester, Ohio. She is an author and speaker. To learn more about her or to sign up for her newsletter, shoot her an email at rebecca@waterswords.com. 




  1. I was encouraged in a similar way. It’s amazing how that encouragement impacts your mindset to try new things throughout your entire life. I’m grateful!

    1. I so appreciate your comment. Interesting how I still find encouragement from my readers keeps me going and growing! Thanks for sharing!


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