After 6,5 year, I didn’t get close with my parents in law. There were not many things in common that I have with my father in law. Before his retirement, he was a blue collar man with different mechanical jobs under his belt. He turns 66 years old today, and I believe he is still just as strong and active as he has ever been all his life.
The one thing he still loves doing until now is to be a fixer. Whenever a neighbor or a family has a problem with a car or motorcycle, they would bring it to him to be fixed. Most of the time, he could fix the problem himself. Sometimes he is stumped and he cannot find a solution on his own. When that happens, he would go and find somebody who knows.
About a week ago, my sister in law could not start her motorbike. The next day my father in law came to have a look. After working on the bike for several hours, he stopped everything, covered the unfinished bike, and went home. He found a motorcycle mechanic near his home, and asked him about the problem. The following day, he continued the repair and finished it.
But when it comes to family matters, sometimes he could be as stubborn as any father. One day, my wife and I borrowed his car for a short errand and noticed a loud knocking sound coming from the car. When we returned, my wife told her dad about it, mentioning that there might be a problem with the gearbox. My father in law retorted, “What? I didn’t hear a thing!” The next thing I knew, they were involed in an argument. A few days later, my father in law announced to the family, “I found a problem with the car. I heard some knocking sound. When I checked, the bolts to the front left wheel were loose. Lucky the wheel did not come off on the freeway.” Of course my wife could not resist to launch into a what-did-I-tell-you lecture, to which my dad-in-law could only sheepishly smiled.
Three nights ago, I was awaken at 3 in the morning by a whirring noise. I thought it came from the AC in the bedroom. But it still went on after I turned the AC off. I followed the noise and I realized it came from the water pump on the flat concrete roof above our room. So I climbed up in the dark, and found the pump hard at work pumping nothing, and the whole room was drenched with water. We had to plug it off. With no additional pressure from the pump, water came very slowly from the water tank. It flows so slow that to shower we had to stand very close to the wall under the showe head to get water on our heads.
A mechanic by nature, when it came to his attention, my father in law could not be more interested to fix the problem. So I took a day off yesterday to help him repair the pump.
He came to our house in the evening, stayed over, and early in the morning he climbed up to the roof, took a look at the pump, and directly found the problem. It was a needle thin leak in the bladder tank that crippled the electric switch, so the pump could not automatically turned itself off.
Being a novice at this, I decided to play an apprentice, a helper, and a driver. I drove him about 20 miles to buy replacement parts, returned home, and accompanied him when working on the pump. I said “accompanied” because my father in law preferred to work alone. I observed what he was doing, and kept out of his way most of the time. Only when he needed an extra hand, he would ask for my help. Like when he had to keep the pump on a level when connecting it to the pipes.
When it was done, he (I don’t think I contribute enough to the repair to merit the use of ‘we’ here) managed to get the pump to work. But my father in law was not satisfied just yet. He was already on to finding the next problem in the plumbing system.
It was an especially hot day with temperature on the high 30 °C. After hours under the intense sun, my head began to ache, and I could feel energy literally drained from my body. I had to psych myself up everytime I climbed the ladder to the roof.
But the sweltering heat was not enough to stop my father in law. He was just as energetic at 2 pm as he was at 7 am. He kept at it until he was out of solution. Only then he was ready to call it off and called my mother in law to go home. And he was just eager to drive 20 miles back as if it was in the morning.
It was a relief for me that we finally stopped working. I sat down for about half an hour just to revive myself from the heat. I took a cold shower, and immediately went to sleep for 2,5 hours.
When I woke up, I found a new objective in life: to be as strong and healthy and energetic and industrious and curious when I am old as my father in law.
Happy birthday, Dad!