I am my father’s daughter.
I have his eyes and his patience. I have his curly hair, and his devotion to his family. We also shared a love of chocolate-covered nuts and fresh rolls and peanut butter cookies.
But my dad was handy, a real MacGyver. He loved nothing more than to spend his days tinkering, and if something broke, he always figured out a way to make it work again. I am not handy. And I don’t have the natural curiousity about how things work to be creative when things go wrong around the house. And they tend to do that a lot.
David went away a couple of weeks ago and, as is often the case, the dryer took that opportunity to break. I put a load in and turned it only to hear a loud, piercing squeak that only seemed to get louder each time I tested it.
Side note: What is it about a traveling spouse that exponentially increases the probability of some minor disaster in the household?
I was telling the boys about the dryer in the morning before they left for school. I was telling them that I was going to try to take it apart myself and see if I could fix it.
“Pup is good at fixing things.” Captain Bravo said what I was already thinking.
My eyes welled up as I answered him. “Pup was good at fixing things, wasn’t he? I wish he was here.”
If my dad were still here, I would have been on the phone with him. He would have given me advice or come by to drop off a wrench that I need. He would have helped me prop up the front of the dryer so that I could get the bolts on the kick plate off. He would have listened to my ranting about how appliances are unreliable and my dryer is only 3 years old.
Once I got the boys off to school, I put on my sweats and headed to the basement. It seemed to take forever to find the right socket to get started. I had to stop a few times – once to find blocks to prop up the dryer, and once to go get my computer so that I could consult YouTube videos on dryer disassembly.
I also stopped when I got discouraged. Frustrated, I wanted to wait for David to get home and let him deal with it; I wanted to call someone to fix it. At some points I would have done ANYTHING – so long as I didn’t have to spend one more minute on the cold cement floor, covered in lint and assorted dryer dust.
“NO.” I said it firmly to myself, out loud. “I am my father’s daughter. And I WILL do this.”
My dad would not have given up. He would NEVER have called someone to come and fix it if there was any chance he could fix it himself. When he ran into obstacles, he worked around them. If he was missing a part, or a tool or a clear instruction, he would simply work around it.
It took hours, but I continued.
I removed the top, the kick plate, the lint trap and the door. I couldn’t get the wiring connectors apart, so I removed entire panels. I thought Dad would have been proud of that one. Slowly but surely, the dryer lay in pieces all around me.
Nearly done, I was finally thwarted by a cross-threaded bolt. I heaved and pulled and at one point started dragging the dryer across the cement floor as I braced against my wrench. I could not get it unstuck. I cursed through gritted teeth and was thankful that my children were still in school.
In the end, I waited for David to get home and help me with the bolt. We bought the replacement parts – new wheels and belt and some contraption called an idle pulley – and worked together to put the pieces back together. By Sunday afternoon, our dryer was catching up on 5 days worth of backlog.
I have my father’s eyes and his patience – except with cross-threaded bolts. I share his love of fresh rolls and peanut butter cookies. And though I am not as handy as he was, I do think I got a little of his determination to make things work.
I am, after all, my father’s daughter.
Have you had to deal with a household disaster on your own? What did you do?