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Pecan Pie for the Mind: Do it yourself... or else!
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My dad is one of the most resourceful people I know. When I was growing up, he taught me to fix bikes, paint walls, work with electronics and generally do things that other kids couldn't or wouldn't do. As I moved into the teen years, he had me digging trenches, doing basic home repairs and rebuilding Volkswagen engines. In our house, there was one simple rule: "Do it yourself!" We were the "fixers" of the neighborhood, and if you wanted to start a major debate with my dad, all you had to do was glance at the Yellow Pages. In our house, it was a fatal sin to call in a paid professional. Plumbers, electricians, and washing-machine repairmen were not an option for the McCoys.

My dad hasn't changed much over the past 30 years. He still does everything himself, and I've been the recipient of much of his hard work. My house is full of handmade glass-front bookcases. My kitchen table is a hand-crafted beauty with inlaid designs. Dad has installed phone lines, ceiling fans and water faucets for us. When we have had professionals in the house, it's been because of factory-paid repairs and recalls - in other words, it was free labor. But all that changed a few weeks ago. My wife and I started talking to some pros about a few remodeling jobs, and when word got to my dad he couldn't sit still. "Sure, get the house painted and all that, but let me have a shot at some of the work. I work for free you know." He also said, "If you let me do this, it'll add five years to my life." Dad always likes a project. I think he needs a challenge to keep active and stay alive. How could I turn him down, especially after that "add five years" zinger?

So, my dad and I are going to finish two rooms in my basement (after we get the proper building permits, of course). My dad deserves a good project, and it'll be fun to work side-by-side with him again. That's a good thing, but there will be a price to pay. Have you ever tried working with your father when paint, nails, saws and hammers are flying? Do you remember how well that went? Yeah... I thought so. Dad may gain an additional five years on his lifespan, but I fully expect to lose about 10 years off mine.

David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers. He can be reached at