An unconventional construction crew recently took advantage of the fall weather to re-side an old garage in a front yard in Sturgeon.
Seven people from Texas, Iowa and Sturgeon assembled to hammer, saw, caulk and paint, nine hours a day for five days. All but one in the group was over the age of 63.
The garage is owned by Ramona Geery, a 65-year-old MU retiree. Her crew, which started work Oct. 2, included her siblings, in-laws and son, Wayne Geery, 44, the youngest member of the group.
The old siding was rotting, but after Ramona’s husband, Clayton, was diagnosed with cancer, replacing it was a low priority. Clayton died in March, and Ramona’s family decided to come together in the fall to take on the project.
“We kind of think it’s our responsibility to make sure that things go well for her,” said Jim Snyder, Ramona’s 67-year-old brother.
The crew was up at 8 a.m. every day to begin work. They stopped only for a few breaks, including lunch and Ramona’s fresh-squeezed lemonade. Although they were serious about finishing the project, the atmosphere was closer to comedy than drama.
“I think it’s pretty hard-hearted of them to make an old man like me get up and down like that,” Ed Mills, Ramona’s 68-year-old brother-in-law, said about climbing up and down a ladder. “Let’s have a little sympathy.”
Members of the crew responded with a chorus of “Poor Ed.”
“That’s better,” Mills said.
Crew members remained in good spirits by teasing each other and cracking jokes.
“They’re as hilarious as any sitcom,” Wayne Geery said. “They’ve helped me see life differently than some people do, in that they see everything in such a funny light. It’s not that they’re mocking, but they just see the humor in life.”
Re-siding the garage was hard work, but it also provided time for family members to gather and enjoy one another’s company. Meals were a time to share embarrassing stories and reminisce.
”They’re just the closest family I’ve ever seen in my life,” Wayne Geery said.
For Ramona, her family has been an essential part of surviving the difficult months leading up to her husband’s death and since.
“They’re all very important to me,” she said. “It’s just kind of a bond that’s there, and I think it’s kind of special.”