Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The House Fairy

I didn't realize how good he is at dodging a camera until I needed a picture for this post. I scrounged through four years' worth of photos on my hard drive, and this is the only semi-front shot of my father-in-law that I can find. It's a shame, because he's rather good-looking, even at sixty-something and taxed as he is by DEB's antics.

I realize that the term "fairy" has become one with a negative connotation, but for my father-in-law, the name is meant to convey that he's forever surprising me, much like the Tooth Fairy.

He gained this moniker a number of years back when he found himself unemployed after the company he worked for went under. The House Fairy may like to sleep late (and DEB rarely lets him these days), but in his waking hours he needs to have his mind or hands engaged in some useful task. Being suddenly unemployed nearly drove him nuts.
DEB was a few years away from her stroke, so his "something to do" often involved tinkering with our house. I'd come home from work and find little things repaired, like new weather stripping around the door or a latch that was no longer rattly, and my father-in-law nowhere in sight. Who was that masked repairman?

Once he'd found a new job, his repair-and-run visits were less frequent, but he always made himself available for stuff outside The Oracle's skills.

Oh, but then he retired. Now he was idle full time and once again going slightly stir crazy. Before DEB"s stroke he rewired our house, installed outlets throughout our basement, and he later did the same for our garage. He spent a good portion of last summer repairing and restoring my great-grandmother's cast-iron cook stove, which spent a good chunk of the last ten years in pieces scattered about our garage and back porch.

His current project, sparked a bit by this stove but more likely the skyrocketing price of fuel, is researching the purchase and installation of a coal-fired furnace to replace our current oil system. While baby-sitting my kids, he's making all sorts of phone calls, taking measurements, and scouring brochures from different dealers. Once we get our desktop back online, I suspect he'll do a lot of that stuff on the Internet.

When I return home from a deposition (during which he and DEB are watching our offspring), I often find my kitchen is fairly shiny and the dishwasher is running. The trash is emptied and the cans are at the curb waiting for the next day's collection. Sometimes our grass is cut and the poop is scooped. The other week he regrouted the bathtub.

In one respect, it makes me feel horribly guilty, but I am so happy to come home and find these little (and sometimes big) things done.

In light of all this, a mere "thank you" seems so lame. The occasional dinner or DEB-sitting Saturday isn't enough. Frankly, I don't know what we'd do without him. This Father's Day, I'd really like to bless him somehow, but I'm not sure what we can do. If anyone out there has any ideas, I'd sure like to hear them.


Anonymous said...

This one seems obvious. Put in words on paper how you, the Oracle and those kids feel about him and how much of a difference he has made in your lives. And have the Oracle come up with some childhood stuff to include too. Of course the kids can do the obligatory crafty thing to add to it but simply to know at this point in his life that his efforts have been noticed,appreciated and have made a difference is better than any material thing you could pass his way. And because it's in writing it is a gift he can open again and again.

Just a thought..

Ness said...

Thanks for the quick save on the Patron Saint of rats/snakes and vermin in general. I shake with fear and trepidation every morning when I visit Hallie's blog, thinking that she can't POSSIBLY top the last mindblowing post and she surpasses every time! I will be catching up with your blog and adding you to my daily read blogs. I take it you're a court reporter or a transcriptionist? I do medical transcription from home and many times my computer has shut down in the middle of a looong transcription. St. Anthony and I are almost on a first name basis! lol Have a great evening. Your kids are so cute!

Coffee Bean said...

That stove is darling! Oh... oh! how I wish I had a fairy like him at my house!

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Your FIL sounds amazing!

We have NOT met the donor family because they don't want any contact with my dad. Although he would like to thank them in person he respects their wishes.

Hallie :)

TheCottonWife said...

There are no words for how much I want that stove!!

Of course, I'd love to have someone do repairs around my house without me begging/nagging/crying but I don't think that's gonna happen any time soon!