My husband and I are lucky enough to have healthy and active parents. I didnâ€™t use the word elderly, because I donâ€™t want to get smacked, put in a time out or written out of any wills.
That being said, I had to babysit my dad a couple of weeks ago. He is so going to gripe at me for that, so I better explain.
Â My father is slowly becoming bionic. Not really, but we tease him about eventually making the noises that the Six Million Dollar Man made after the crash. He had a knee replaced recently, and both shoulders are already boasting man-made parts. A couple of days after he got out of the hospital after the knee thing, Mom had a previous commitment, so I gladly offered to hang out with the papa to make her feel better about leaving him at home. But first, I had to help her transport some stuff (after he promised to stay in his chair while we were gone). We took separate cars so I could head back to their house on Lime Lake Drive in Avoca, about a mile from my own house.
The problem is Lime Lake Drive is a notorious vehicle vacuum in the winter. It sucks cars and trucks right into the ditches, which are hidden with copious amounts of snow and look harmless, even if youâ€™re in the know. You get a little off track in the vast whiteness of the road and WHOOP. Into the ditch goes one tire. You get hung up and are there until the spring thaw or until better machinery comes along.
Â Just down the road from their house, I was looking in my rear-view mirror to see if Mom was right behind me and WHOOP. I was stuck. I jumped in Momâ€™s car, we went to Slayton and set up her stuff (she had a booth at a home show) and then I called my husband and had him fix my problem. He just does that. Heâ€™s handy that way. He laughed, because he had gotten a plow truck stuck in the exact same spot a few days earlier.
Â A bit later, I was hanging out with my dad, my car unstuck and intact in their driveway. We were chatting about fishing when suddenly Dad, who was facing the window overlooking the road, went on point like a hunting dog who had just sighted a pheasant. He jumped up as fast as an old guy with a 5-day-old knee can jump and was off like a flash with his walker. (That was a joke. He was using a walker â€“ there was no real flash involved.)Â Â Â â€œTheyâ€™re stuck, better go get â€˜em out,â€ he said, tossing me the truck keys he had just grabbed.
Â A car had gotten vacuumed into the ditch almost right across the road from where we were sitting. The people in the car (again, not using the word elderly) had walked up to the house across the street for help, but I took Dadâ€™s truck over there, after listening to Dadâ€™s instructions about his tow rope, the chain that attaches the tow rope, where to hook it, etcâ€¦
For the record, I hate Dadâ€™s truck. It has a topper and I canâ€™t see over it to back up.
A stately gentleman behind the steering wheel (they had returned after chatting with the neighbor across the street) smiled when I pulled up, and we chatted. Just then, neighbor Chad pulled up in his car. His wife had called and he had come home from another neighborâ€™s house to help.
Randy (the stately gentleman) told us he felt silly for going in the ditch. Chad and I both assured him there was no need to feel silly and explained about the vacuum. I told him of my adventures of just an hour ago and my husbandâ€™s of a few days ago, but Chad did me one better. He said his wife had gotten stuck in basically the same spot my car just days before, and in trying to rescue her own car with their truck, had landed the truck in the same spot Randyâ€™s car was now resting. In other words, they were stuck where she had been stuck after getting stuck where I had been stuck after my husband got stuck.
Vacuum road. Seriously.
We all assessed the situation, the guys attached the tow rope, and Chad told me to turn the truck around and back up. My Dadâ€™s Truck. With the topper I couldnâ€™t see over. That belonged to my Dad.
â€œYouâ€™re a guy. You do it,â€ I said.
â€œNo, I have to live across from him,â€ Chad laughed. â€œWhat if I break his truck?â€
â€œWell, I have to live with him as my dad,â€ I reasoned. â€œWhat if I break it?â€
We argued in a friendly fashion for a few minutes.
â€œAre you two related?â€ Randy asked, breaking in and startling us both.
â€œWhat?â€ we asked. â€œNo!â€
He just lives by my parents and his kids went to school with mine and we live in a town the size of a salt shaker compared to what youâ€™re used to and we just do that here, I wanted to explain. But I didnâ€™t.
â€œDo you want me to do it?â€ Randy asked, smiling and glancing at Dadâ€™s truck.
I seriously considered it while Chad wasnâ€™t looking. Just then my cell phone rang. It was my dad, full of advice. He had his face glued to the window, which was nowhere near where he was supposed to be.
â€œYou promised you wouldnâ€™t get out of your chair! Go sit down!â€ I admonished, and hung up on him.
Right about then, Chad, thank goodness, made an executive decision. He backed Dadâ€™s truck into his driveway, got his own and pulled Randyâ€™s car out of the ditch while his wife rode out the adventure inside their car.
They were very nice people, and, while Iâ€™m certainly not glad they got stuck, Iâ€™m glad it happened at a spot where there was someone on hand to help them. They probably didnâ€™t have fun, but I kind of did.
Of course, when I got back in the house Dad quizzed me on everything that happened, but I could tell he was wearing out so I fed him lunch and gave him a pill so he would pass out in a drug-induced fog. I also gave him a mini lecture about getting out of his chair and breaking his promise, but he just laughed. Itâ€™s hard to lecture a guy that used to change your diapers and now pretends he canâ€™t hear whenever itâ€™s convenient.
About two weeks after vacuum ditch adventure day, I got home from work and was flipping through the mail (bill, junk, bill, junk) when I noticed something with a hand-written address and my name. I didnâ€™t recognize the return address from up near the Twin Cities.
It was a thank you card and a gift card to a local restaurant from Randy. The card wished me an early spring. How sweet is that?
The gift wasnâ€™t necessary. Out here, neighbors help out, even if youâ€™re just neighbors for the few minutes youâ€™re in a local ditch. But thanks. Iâ€™ll take my hubby out for lunch as thanks for jerking my car out the same day. What goes around comes around, I guess. Happy spring to you! Letâ€™s hope it gets here soon.