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About My Dad…
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Drawing the “short” straw from the gene pool

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I think at one time or another, most everyone has wished they could change something about themselves. Over the years I’ve created an EXTENSIVE wish list of things I’d like to change, but it got narrowed down this week, thanks to a home improvement project. In short, pardon the pun, I want to be taller!

I spent two days last week painting a room. That sounds simple enough but if you’re under 5-feet tall and afraid of heights it gets, as they say, “complicated.” I went through all that envisioning business, you know, painting the room in my mind? Determined it wouldn’t look like a 4-year old did it, I solicited tips from Julie at Baylor Lumber, and as if on cue, Charlie Abraham walked in while I was there, enabling me to soak up painting genius by osmosis!

In full disclosure, this project has been in the works for two years. It’s not that I’m afraid of using a little elbow grease, but what worried me the most was climbing the ladder. While an average heighted person might be able to use a step-stool or step ladder, or stand on the second rung of a 6-foot ladder, I had to climb to the third rung to paint along the ceiling and reach a difficult area over a built-in bookcase. My acrophobia compounded by basophobia, the fear of falling, (see, this column can be educational), caused immediate paralysis at the second rung of the ladder. Anyone over 60 knows that you don’t stretch and reach while standing on a ladder, and short legs are usually accompanied by short arms, so that means constantly moving the ladder and repeatedly revisiting the dreaded third rung.

With Willy 1550 playing on my portable radio, my cellphone in my pocket in case I fell, my James Avery cross around my neck and a prayer, I finally “stepped up” to do what needed to be done. Having tackled the hardest corner first and my knees continuing to cooperate, the climbing and cutting-in did get easier.

I do think average heighted people take their lucky draw from the vertical gene pool for granted. While they nonchalantly change light bulbs, smoke detector batteries, or hang pictures by simply reaching up or with a step stool, I have to drag in the 6-foot ladder.

And then there are the clothes and airbags. Most of my life, I’ve hemmed pants, skirts and dresses because even “5-foot 3 and under” was too long. In order to reach the accelerator and brake of my vehicle, I have to sit much closer to the air bag than recommended.

The one aspect of shortness I think average heighted or tall people fail to understand is that when you’re short, your center of gravity is lower. My most frustrating, physical challenge was loading and unloading my husband’s wheelchair. I had to lift it up almost above my head, over and in the vehicle while someone taller merely had to lift up and in. Adding insult to injury is the aging process. They say everyone shrinks but I can’t afford to, otherwise, I’ll be driving around Navasota sitting on a booster seat!

To compensate for my height, I’ve learned ways to “work smart” as my husband used to say, but I can’t help but wish for a few extra inches of height on certain occasions. I guess that’s when it might be a good time for my revised version of the Serenity Prayer - “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know when to pay someone to do it for me!”

Connie Clements is a freelance reporter for the Navasota Examiner and award-winning columnist. She writes feature news articles on a weekly basis and an opinion column as the mood strikes her.