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Be nice to me and you could be featured in this column one day!  Be mean to me and you could be featured for several days.

Today’s person that I admire is….crap, I forgot her name, but here is her story.  The year is 1993 and I am in a good place.  Just married my first wife and we were enjoying settling into our first house together in Carlisle, PA.  Nineteen years later I am still married to Christine, but refer to her as my first wife just to keep her on her toes.  It was here on 43 Wheatfield Drive that I came to the realization that I am not very handy around the house.  Even the simplest of fixes usually ended up with me on the phone and my wife cutting a check to some guy who was inwardly laughing at me.  Not very manly of me, so I decided to do something about it.  I found out that the local community college was offering a class for first time homeowners and I quickly signed up. Class was at night and I quickly rationalized that the course fee would come back to me in the form of savings later, and it truly has paid off handsomely to this day in both skills and my outlook on life.  You see it was here that I met this girl whose story I am going to to commit to this blog so I don’t forget her…ever.

First day of class and like all new students I was pretty nervous and worried that I would be the least handiest man in the class.  It’s a guy thing, but luckily the instructor quickly put us all at ease with his reassuring tone and his description of the various skills we would be learning.  We were going to play with electricity, and to this day I have not met a dimmer switch that I cannot install.  He told us we would be doing some plumbing and even get into some drywall repair.  The drywall repair was key because back at the Gillan household there was a dent in the ceiling in the stairwell.  I was trying to avoid stepping on the cat so I jumped over her only to leap too far and smacked my head on the ceiling that sloped downward with the stairs and I took out the bannister to boot!  Three drywall holes with my name all over them and I was going to learn how to repair them.  Cool beans,  but before we get started the teacher wanted to know why we were there.  So we went around the room and introduced ourselves and I cannot recall my introduction, but I am sure it was lame.  Probably went something like this, “Hi my name is Dennis Gillan and I recently bought a house with my new bride—sorry ladies but I am off the market (if I didn’t say it I know I thought it—still do, sorry again ladies) and I would like to learn how to be handy around the house.”

Then it was her turn.  I already told you I do not remember her name but here is how the rest of her introduction transpired, “I am here to learn how to be productive around the house and have a positive impact on my family’s well being.  I have a young daughter at home and when I was delivering her I had a stroke.  I have been on the road to recovery ever since.  I lost some of my memory and I cannot return to work, so I am here to learn how to help around the house and feel like I am contributing again.”

Game, set, match.  Ladies and gentleman we now have our favorite student of the class.  The teacher and the rest of us did not know what to say, but we all had that same series of expressions go across our collective faces.  The look of sympathy at first, but after processing it quickly morphs into the look of pride. We feel bad for you, but we are so proud of you all at the same time.  And as time went on and each group rotated through the workshop I got to participate in some projects with this awesome student.  We were in the same group when we had to “plumb” some copper pipes together.  We had to use a blow torch on a joint and when water was introduced, ours did not leak.  Fire and water defeated by hapless man and ass kicking woman!

As long as I live I will never forget her face, nor her story.  Yes, her name escapes me, but her bravery will remain forever.  So to the girl who enrolled in the Beginner’s Homeowners Class at Harrisburg Area Community College in 1993 you are a PERSON THAT I ADMIRE.  Rock on woman.