Build A Better Mousetrap

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Scott Drotar Grandpa 1My grandfather, Delbert Krick, is an amazing man that has lived a very full, rich life. Even though Alzheimer’s has taken away many parts of who he was, he still goes about his life with a smile. As I was looking through old pictures of my family that I could use on, I ran across a few of him that sparked some memories of how much he has taught me. One memory in particular reminded me of how much he showed me about problem solving. It is a skill that has been an invaluable resource throughout my life, and I would like to share it with you today.

My grandfather grew up during the Great Depression, and like many people from that era, he is able to find value in everything, no matter how small. He would repurpose, reuse, and recycle anything he had. On top of that, he was great with his hands and had great spacial reasoning, so he could fix almost anything. As a result of these factors, if something was broken or needed to be modified in some way, he would figure out how to do it. He didn’t go to the Yellow Pages to find someone else to do it. Instead, he would analyze the situation, take it apart, tinker with it, find numerous ways not to do it, and eventually solve the problem himself. Like he would say, “If a mousetrap doesn’t work, don’t get an exterminator, build a better mousetrap.” He always took such pride in his “inventions,” especially those that helped me live a more normal, happy life. I always will remember the way he would show me the progress he was making, because the pride he felt from using his skills to help me was so strong you could almost see it. One of these amazing devices was built for me when I was about 4 years old, and even today means a lot to me looking back.

Scott Drotar Grandpa 2My grandfather liked to go out on the lake to fish. He especially enjoyed taking me out with him and teaching me how to set the hook, identify fish, and just appreciate nature. Some of my earliest memories are of my grandfather, my dad, and I fishing out of my grandfather’s old, rickety rowboat. Due to my disability however, sitting in a row boat and using both hands to manipulate a fishing rod was really hard for me. My resourceful grandfather didn’t let this stop us from enjoying the experience though, he took stock of the situation and created a solution. He designed a chair that would attach to the boat, and he built an apparatus that attached my fishing rod to it (it is pictured here). Not only that, but he also modified my rod and reel to cast automatically by shooting the bobber like a bullet from a gun, so that I could cast on my own. He built all of this, not because someone asked him to, but because by using his skills he could spend time with his grandson, which is something that he, and now I, cherish greatly.

I was reminiscing about this one of a kind chair, and it occurred to me that now days, there are not many people that could do what he did. The chair is not something that you could go buy in a store or order online off of Amazon. Only someone as amazing and loving as my grandfather could possibly have developed a solution so perfect. His unique ability to see the goal he wanted (fishing with me) and ask himself, “What is stopping me from living this goal?” is one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given. Even when he would find another and another and another way to not achieve his goal, he wouldn’t give up. He would take what he learned from that attempt and apply that knowledge to his next try. This never ending drive to solving problems that were blocking his path to the life he wanted, helped to show me the right way to go through life as a disabled person.

Even though the hazards of age have taken away much of who he was, I will always admire him for his problem solving vision and skill. Vision and skill that thankfully I also possess, in large part from watching him work over the years. It makes it so much easier living on my own, not knowing what direction my life will take next, knowing that I have the skills to solve any obstacle that life can throw at me. Thanks to my grandfather, it’s in my blood.

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