Thursday morning Rich flushed the toilet upstairs and the kitchen sink downstairs filled with water. I spent the morning bailing out the sink while he finished his shower. And then I sent an email to my father. Over Thursday and Friday my father and I spent a fair amount of time under the house. The plumbing issues involved moving the clean out from under the house through the foundation, using Daddy's auger to investigate the clog and cutting out a five foot section of iron pipe. But those details aren't very important.
The important parts of this adventure were all the little moments with my father. Daddy has a pretty intense paranoia streak so that when we met a significant resistance in the clean out line, he was convinced that our contractors from eight months ago had sabotaged our plumbing. He went down a list of every worker on that he'd ever had a conflict with, and that's not a short list.
We marveled at the strength of plumbers "back in the day" who could heft length of iron pipe around under houses. I waited while my father straightened pipe edges with the circular saw over and over and over until I worried there wouldn't be much pipe left. I learned that when my sense of smell is this keen, it's not the greatest to spend two days around raw sewage, burning PVC and iron and plumbing cement. And we spent a lot of time "shucking corn."
My father tells a story about a farmer that hired a farm hand to shuck corn. He told him to throw the rotten ears in one pile to be ground up and the ones that were still okay but not edible for people into a pile for the hogs. When the farmer came back at lunch, the farm hand had barely made two pitiful piles of corn. The farmer shook his head and decided to at least let the poor kid finish out the day but told him just to shuck all the ears into one pile. The farmer came back at the end of the day and the farm hand had made a mountain of corn! When he asked the farm hand why he had done so little that morning and so much that afternoon, the farm hand shrugged and said "all those decisions were slowing me down."
In any project our family undertakes we spend a lot of time deciding just exactly what we're going to do and then a smaller chunk of time painstakingly following through with those decisions. I spent a fair amount of time this week just observing and marveling at how my father and I work together.
My father and I never had a father-daughter dance at my wedding. We don't go out for fancy dinners to celebrate special occasions. But when he's lying in a ditch trying to find the plumbing cement I can tell him "Back. Over. Down." and he'll put his hand right on it.
These are the days our memories are made of.