There is always something that needs to be installed, fixed, filled out, moved, hauled, or arranged at my parents’ house. I grit my teeth. I roll my eyes. I help. I proclaim lack of skill. Can’t (insert brother’s name) do it? I do what I can, sometimes it’s a quick and happy fix, other times the task is so tedious I dread having to do it, like reading and translating medical insurance manuals.
And it never fails, I will have one foot out the door and my Dad will call my name.
“I was hoping you could install the thermometer outside.”
“Well…oh skip it,” his gentle voice trails off.
I let go of the door handle and think for a minute.
“Can I do it when I get back?”
“Okay. I don’t wanna bother you.”
“I promise Dad, I’ll do it when I get back.”
“Do you have enough Petrol in the car?”
“Yeah I do. Thanks Pops.”
I think he asked about the thermometer a dozen times before that. It seems like such a small thing to get around to since they already have one in the kitchen. This one is for the bedroom window. Dad likes to know the temperature inside and outside. With his paralysis from MS, it’s a connection to the outside elements.
I get back from my errand and listen to his plan. I try to convince him that tiny sensor cord (digital) can get “a little smushed” between the window pane and the sill.
He doesn’t like this idea. I should know better than to think “a little smushed” would suffice. He proposes that I drill a small hole into the metal frame work of the window and thread the sensor through.
“Dad, that’s too complicated. I’d have to borrow a drill.”
I go outside to see what I’m dealing with. We talk back and forth and settle on nestling the thermometer in between the windows. I don’t have to drill. The cord does not need to be pinched.
He tilts his head right and left.
“Very nice. Thank you.”
For all the untimely requests, boring insurance literature to read through, phone calls to make, thermometers to install, I get the glimmer of the gift now: The asking and the doing.
It’s what captures time in a net.