A Mother's Day Tribute from Mike Hicks, Hick's Industrial Roofing
First, I want to give credit to Susi Cox, my Director of Business Development, and wife of my director of Service and Maintenance for the inspiration for this tribute to the very rare women that stick with us roofers through the end. I know roofing is changing and that women are making their mark in all aspects across the industry. Here in my neck of the woods, roofing remains a business that is still dominated by traditional gender roles. It’s not that I want to exclude all the amazing ladies making their mark in our trade, but I am writing this article from the perspective in which I’ve lived.
Last Saturday, my amazing and beautiful wife, Beth, and I were dancing at a wedding when the DJ said “Anyone who’s been married LESS than 24 hours, sit down.” He then continued the count-up through a week, a month, a year, 5 years, and 5 year increments from there on. At 30 years, Beth and I were one of just 3 couples left on the floor. Until that moment, it never registered with me just how rare a marriage over 30 years has become. My parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were all married until the husbands death. My father and grandfather were both roofers. Both roofing contractors.
Our wives, and so many others have dealt with the cross-eyed stares and blank “Huh’s” from the pharmacists when she asked if they had anything for Pitch Burn. They have glared with exasperation at a dryer and full load of clothes coated with asphalt stains or melted construction pencils. Stayed up late sewing the holes in those brand new pairs of jeans. And for those in northern climates dealt with hardships created by the vast uncertainty of seasonal incomes, wondering when the snows will end and the work will start, when the belt can be loosened a little and how many months will it take to get caught up on the bills that have piled up over the winter.
For those that venture into the business side of roofing, the stresses only get bigger as the responsibilities grow. Since that dance, I have been questioning whether or not I knew a single roofing contractor with a business my size or larger that had not been divorced. I probably do know some, but don’t know them well enough to pry into their finances or personal lives. But among those that I do know well, not a single marriage has survived the brushes with bankruptcy, explaining many times to the children why daddy isn’t at the game, the play, the party…. Whispering quietly to the children “don’t mind daddy, he’s stressed over work, he didn’t mean it”, or the myriad of many other excuses I know my bride has had to make on my behalf over the past 3+ decades of surviving the roller coaster of being a roofer’s wife.
Roofer. It’s a hard job. It’s even harder being married to one. To those women who dug deep and found the strength to survive the journey, I applaud you all. You are a rare and special breed. To those who had to move on, likely with the kids, and find a way to survive on child support and sporadic wage garnishments, I know in so many ways, your journey has been even harder and more painful. On this Mother’s Day, I want to acknowledge your struggles, your patience, your perseverance, your dedication and your love. Thank you for all you do.
If you a roofer lucky enough to have a special woman walking this life at your side, cherish her well.
To my own wife and mother of my children, I know I’m a much better man with you than I could ever hope to be without you. Thank you, Beth, for everything.
Michael Hicks is owner of Hicks Industrial Roofing. See his full bio here.