(Fictionalization based on the true character of my late father- this COULD really have happened)
Dad could fix anything that needed fixing from decapitated dolls to his daughter’s broken heart. Though he’s been gone for many, many years, I still believe this. So, picture the scene: we were on an errand, the details of which are unimportant but for one or two. We entered a big building in the city. It had too many floors to count and too much gleaming high-tech “showy” stuff for my country boy father who knew what was truly important was much simpler than this “dang thing” which would surely break and cost “an arm and a leg” to fix.
Having said this, he and I got into the elevator to ascend to the 15th floor. As Dad’s heavy feet thumped on the floor on the way in, the elevator shook a bit, but we thought little of it. We pushed the “dang” button and Dad, always good-natured, shook his head and no doubt was already thinking of the ice cream stand on the back road which he’d insist we take to get home, not to mention the lake we’d pass en route and the bench we’d sit on while we ate our treats. It was his favorite way to run a 20 minute errand and thus such errands could take an hour or two or longer. You’ll soon understand why. A small seasonal and weather-beaten building with walk-up windows to get the ice cream, then a bench by the lake which no longer betrayed what color paint was used on it . . . pleasant thoughts suddenly and dramatically interrupted by a thunk, a squeak, and a screeching halt as the elevator stopped running. My Dad’s vocabulary at that moment made me glad he and I were its only passengers.
We both stood very still for a moment as we waited, wondered, and held onto the rail attached to the walls of the elevator. Nothing. Stillness. Silence. The realization of our being in a big building on a strangely quiet day suddenly came to mind in each of us, though we said not a word. Two deep breaths, mine and his . . .
Did I mention Dad could fix “darned near” anything? Didn’t bother him much if it was something he’d never seen before. He’d embark on the challenge anyway and usually succeed then sheepishly when asked how he’d done it, admit he’d never seen anything like it before but fiddled with it some . . . and so he did, but this time without his usually positive result. I was sitting on the floor by then so he joined me, good-naturedly mentioning that I’d have to “yank” him up from there when the time came. We were quiet for a time. I am not afraid of high places nor small enclosed ones . . . as a rule, but that being said our circumstances didn’t give me a feeling of peace. I was just staring at the wall and suddenly felt like I was being watched. I looked over at Dad who couldn’t fix this for me and saw him looking at me with such love in his eyes. He knew me so well and I’m sure my quiet didn’t fool him any. The quiet in our small temporary prison was broken with the words so etched in my heart that in telling this story, they bring tears to my eyes: “hey, did I ever tell you about . . . “ and on came story after story of his childhood, of his time in the Navy, of characters he’d met along the way in life . . . mostly familiar stories with a detail or two which changed in the retelling, but it didn’t matter to his daughter’s loving heart. I could always listen to these stories regardless of how many hours passed in the telling and retelling. I don’t know how long it took “them fellas” to fix the elevator, but I was kind of sorry they did. Love you, Daddy.