Helping the family

My son assured us he only needed to borrow his dad for a couple weeks to do minor repairs to their little yellow house before the inspector approved it for renters.
“So you want me there for a month?”
“Oh no, we don’t have enough work for you to stay that long,” my son protested. Hubby packed all his prescribed medications anyway.


Calling from St. Louis, he told me he fixed the mold damage beneath a leak in the roof. “I’m working on the trim around the entrance to the attic but it might take a couple more days … I am going to help the kids make their Pinewood Derby cars for the Awana race”


Using the grandchildren’s ideas, he showed our son how to cut the wood and make a little wooden car.
If big sister gets to make a car with Grandpa, then so does little brother. One evening my husband mentioned he had supervised the two-year-old painting his Pinewood Derby car. “It’s the first time I ever saw anyone paint a car with fingernail polish. It makes a shiny car though. When he got tired of painting it, he dumped the rest of the polish on the car. I made him spread it around.”


He returned to tightening loose screws on electrical receptacles, taking down loose pieces of wire and responding to the pre-schooler’s demand, “Tell me another story, Grandpa.” She likes to hear about Grandpa growing up, Grandpa fixing the house in Indiana and anything else Grandpa may want to tell her.


Naptime called her away and he headed downstairs to work on replacing glass in the basement windows and fitting silicon in tiny corners where air might escape.
On my son’s days off they tackled the fence: cutting back the shrubbery, replacing the bent parts and shoring up the rest.
Because they had to be out of the little yellow house long before their bigger white house was ready, they began packing and moving furniture into storage. My husband returned from a moving trip expecting to pack another load of packed boxes. Nothing had been done. Everything had stopped. A close friend’s child had unexpectedly died while asleep. Phone calls and visits had to be made, funeral attended and time set aside to discuss how to tell their children why their little friend would no longer come to play. While the young couple and their friends sorted through their shocking loss, my husband stayed with the grandchildren and quietly worked on minor repairs for the next few days. Following the funeral, he met my son’s family and their other grandfather at a restaurant for a family dinner to celebrate our granddaughter’s fifth birthday.
My husband moved his departure date back another few days as they hunkered down to complete the tasks.
The inspector came and studied everything. “You need to have these holes filled in, they are fire tunnels if there is a fire and you need to …” he listed several items. “But because I can see that this guy,” he pointed to my husband “looks like he knows what he is doing, I am going to pass you so I won’t have to come back out.”
“This guy” fixed the hole around the ceiling fan, put insulation in some places and cleared more plants from the yard.


That night my husband assured me that he would be home after he helped complete the storing of everything, including his bed. Meanwhile, they needed his van to help them move.
They packed and moved the rest of their furniture and belongings into two storage units and a family member’s garage. Rather than pay $90 to have someone build a box to safely move their flat screen TV, the men went to the lumber yard, bought a sheet of Styrofoam and built one themselves.
He called one night from a hotel room and said he would return after he went by the house to finish up one more task. He lied. The task took longer and turned into more tasks. He slept at the house on the air mattress and kept working.
The bank called with good news: the closing would probably be moved up to noon on the Friday after they left the yellow house on Wednesday. They would not have to wait a week or two to sign and then move.


This was great timing because my daughter’s family had planned to visit that exact weekend. They just did not know until Thursday afternoon that they would have a house to stay in during their planned mid-winter school break, plus they could help with the move. Friday evening and all day Saturday, adults hauled in boxes, unpacked dishes and set up beds while the little cousins explored the empty corners of the quickly filling house.


Sunday afternoon my husband watched his granddaughter win a trophy at the Pinewood Derby race and at 2 a.m. Monday, he slipped out of the house and arrived in time for us to have lunch together home – three weeks and four days after he left to help the family for a couple of weeks.


And, I know exactly what he said as he crawled into bed for an afternoon nap, “Ahhh, it feels so good to sleep in my own bed.” I’m sure it did.