Falling off the Roof

A few months after our father died, my brother fell off the roof, both literally and figuratively.

He was the treasured first born son, arriving after 3 attempts resulted in daughters.

At the advice of physicians, my mother got pregnant for the fourth time.

It was then believed that beneficial hormones released to pregnant and lactating women would stave off depressive symptoms.  It seemed to work for her, she had three more children in what turned out to be her best years.

But this first son was special and they remained very close for a lifetime.

He was smart, sensitive, funny, popular, incredibly handsome, with many friends, many love interests.



By the age of 39, he was still unmarried.

He apprenticed as a teenager with a local contractor that was a friend of the family.

He was a gifted craftsman, loved working outdoors. Before long, he had his own roofing business, proudly independent.

There were a lot of women that came and went. It was fun to see who would show up with him at family functions.

Then, there was the one.

She announced her pregnancy. My brother was getting married, just before turning 40.

Two days later, he fell off a roof.

It was his first and only work-related accident. He broke several ribs, his collar bone.

He healed. They had a private wedding, married in the same Maryland wedding chapel as our parents. They had their son the following year, but the marriage didn’t last.

They share custody, have remained cordial over the years. He has joked about that fall, and how it might have been a warning.


**Post inspired by a recent Forbes report on the richest self-made woman in the US, Diane Hendricks, whose 4.9 billion dollar fortune was made selling roofing supplies. Seriously.

Also, from a comment that listed “falling off the roof” as a euphemism for menstruation. Childhood memory of horror … “My mom says we can’t go swimming because she fell off the roof yesterday!”


This entry was posted in Childhood, Family, Relationships, Work and Career and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Falling off the Roof

  1. The Universe sure does give us interesting messages!

  2. What an interesting post, the idea of an event being seen as foreboding in retrospect. My Great-Gran married the month after her older brother had killed himself. As she was being rowed across the water to the wedding venue, she asked whether she was making a mistake. I think she knew she would regret it even then but could not risk upsetting her parents at such a sensitive and raw time in their lives. She went through with the marriage, emigrated to America to live with her new husband who had emigrated before, and had two daughters in quick succession before leaving him and returning to Shetland while pregnant with her third daughter. They never divorced but never reconciled either. Clearly she should have listened to her gut instinct.

    PS I have never heard of that euphemism for menstruation. We were brought up to say, “I can’t because my Granny is visiting”.

    • We so often ignore that gut feeling, Laura. So interesting about your great grandmother. I’ve heard that the euphemism originated in the South, but I grew up in Pennsylvania…so it must have spread north. ☺

  3. I was hoping after yesterday’s post that this wasn’t going to be tragic. Only broken ribs and a failed marriage. Not so bad compared to the alternative! Life is interesting, that’s for sure, and I do think it gives us hints. 🙂

  4. Wow such an interesting post Van! I love how you describe things and bring us into your family!

  5. Erika Kind says:

    That is really interesting to see it in that relation!

  6. Erica Herd says:

    I had no idea about the other meaning of “falling off the roof.”

    • It sure scared me as a kid, Erica, I had a vivid imagination, asked a lot of questions before I understood. ☺ When I made the comment on another blog, I was surprised to see that folks knew of it…it was supposed to be a southern US expression.

  7. LaVagabonde says:

    I’m always nervous when I see someone working on a roof.

  8. Val Boyko says:

    Whew! I guess he was lucky he didn’t start menstruating!
    I’m glad it wasn’t a lot worse for him or the family 💛

  9. Nurse Kelly says:

    Strange twist of fate! Guess he was meant to be single! I’ve never heard that euphemism before – might have to use that one! 🙂

  10. amommasview says:

    Do you think the falling off the roof was a bad omen?

  11. George says:

    You never know where messages come from or how they’re delivered. In retrospect he was right but maybe he had lived too long a certain way to adapt to this change in lifestyle. Or maybe he should have heeded the sign..:)

  12. markbialczak says:

    I’m glad he got over the fall, Van. Could have been awful! Hey, I never heard the phrase used as a euphemism for that, either! You taught me something there. 😮

  13. You did it again, start tragic and end laughing. You’re an awesome writer. Your stories are mid length and packed with info!

  14. badfish says:

    What a finely-crafted piece of writing! Love the way it started. Then, I started thinking something bad was going to happen. Then it did, but then all was well! Then went downhill again, and up. Life.

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