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Tearing down walls…

When I was a girl, I had the great opportunity of having a step-dad that taught me how to do almost everything he knew.  He taught me about the stars in the sky, hunting, fishing, basic auto care, etc.  My step dad’s name is Pete, and he taught me more than I can ever tell you.

Daddy Pete (as he’s referred to now) had an interesting hobby… or maybe it was a calling.  He tore down houses and reused the wood to build a barn on our acreage in Harrisonville, Mo.

When I say he tore houses down, I need you to understand he didn’t use machines. He didn’t own a crane. He didn’t employ a fleet of workers (unless you count my siblings and me). He used crowbars, hammers, pitchforks, and sledge hammers.

There’s something magnificent about someone standing in front of a house that’s been sturdy for 40 years saying, “I am going to tear this down with my bare hands.”

Even more amazing was watching him do it.

Shingle after shingle of siding, followed by 2x4s attached to penny nails, plywood, and bricks… all fell at his feet as he would work. When he wasn’t at his job, or asleep, he was working on tearing down a house.

Then, he would collect the usable wood, stack it in the back of his old Ford truck (along with cinder bricks and other usable items) and drive an hour to our land in Harrisonville.  Then he’d unload the salvaged supplies neatly to be used building a barn.

Our weekends were spent on the acreage.  Daddy Pete would be building our barn, and we would be mowing our grass or pulling nails from the wood for him to use. I was probably the only 7th grader in my school that knew what re-bar was.

At the end of our days on the farm, we would climb the ladder to to the top floor of the barn, and sleep under the stars. The entire family, laid side by side… listening to Daddy Pete talk about the stars, and to the coyotes howling in the distance.

For me, this was normal.

One person tearing down an entire house all by them self. What others would have seen as impossible, he saw as an issue of tackling just one shingle of siding, one board, one brick at a time. He never questioned his ability to do this, and because he didn’t, neither did we.

He could do anything he put his mind to.

So, when it came time for me to step up and be an adult, I never questioned it. It didn’t frighten me. I knew that I could do anything I wanted to, because I’d seen a man do the “impossible” on a daily basis.

And when it came time to help my son through bullying, I joined karate with him. I didn’t question if I could do it, I just did it.

And when it was time to help him face his learning disability, I didn’t question it. I just did it.

And when it came time to bury my son… to face the fact that he was murdered… I did it.

A few weeks ago, I gave my deposition to the defense attorney. I didn’t look away from him, I didn’t second guess myself, I didn’t shed a tear.  I just did it.

When Bob and I began thinking of creating Corey’s Network, Inc., I didn’t question how I’d do it, where the money would come from, or if it would be successful. We just stepped up and did it.

We have vowed to each other that we will teach our children how to overcome the hardest day of their life, and be able to rebuild.

I realize now (at 51) the amazing lesson my Dad taught me.

One person can tear down a house.

One person can move a house 50 miles away.

One person can build something new.

You can do anything you put your mind to.

Corey’s Network has now helped pay for 116 funerals, plane tickets, and cremations.  We’ve helped across the nation.  We’ve started trust funds for children, made connections with some of the most wonderful people we’ve ever known, and continue to grow.

I remember crying, “I can’t do this!!” when I heard of Corey’s death.

But here I am.

My Daddy’s child.

Shingle by shingle, board by board, brick by brick… tearing down what was, and making it into something new.


Michelle Metje

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