The hot water faucet in Mother’s bathroom sink has been dripping for weeks. Other urgent projects have filled my days and pushed this one aside, not that I can ever forget it. The water bill reminds me as does Mother at least once a day. But now, house clean, out of town guests come and gone, I can concentrate on this task.
Best to start by looking at an online video of how to repair a leaking faucet that appears simple enough, so I find pliers and head to the bathroom. Getting it apart is not as simple as the video appears but after several trips back and forth to get additional tools, another look at the video, tries of various washers from a box of assorted items to repair leaky faucets, I finally get the whole thing back together. It’s no longer dripping; now it runs a constant small stream. My determination to be fiscally responsible and frugal has been met with failure. My frustration at being thwarted is at the boiling point. I will not give up. I will get satisfaction from overcoming the obstacles of a ninety year old house.
“Mother, I’ve turned the hot water off under your bathroom sink,” pliers, wrench, screwdrivers and rubber gloves fill my hands.
“How will I wash my face and teeth before I go to bed?” She stops stirring the pot of Great White Northern Beans and stares at me.
“I’ll go to Home Depot tomorrow but until then, I can turn it back on for you.” I dump all the tools back in the small catch-all box under the kitchen sink.
One of the art experts on “Antiques Roadshow” is talking about a platinum and diamond bracelet and Mother forgets the turned-off hot water in her bathroom.
I staggered out of bed earlier today to take a pill and remembered Mother’s faucet but when I opened the cabinet to turn the valve off, I realized the faucet wasn’t dripping. She must have turned it off after I went to bed. Hours later, I’m engrossed in an online discussion with other writers over pieces we’ve each submitted when I hear a faint sound. High pitched, like a child. I listen hard. Is that my name?
I jump up and hurry from the office, through the kitchen, then the dining room and into the hall towards Mother’s closed bathroom door. The closer I get, I can tell it’s her calling me. “Vicky. Vicky.” It sounds almost a wailing, like a small child calling for a parent.
I expect the worst as I throw open the bathroom door. Mother is half sitting-half lying on the floor, her feet tangled in the pink bathroom rug, the sink cabinet doors open, the hot water faucet running just as it was yesterday.
“Did you fall?” I reach down to help her steady into a sitting position.
“No. I was trying to turn off the water. I tried to bend down, but I couldn’t reach under the sink and now I can’t get up.” She keeps struggling, trying to get her feet under her.
“Ok. Breathe deeply. Sit still until I can get a small stool to put under your bum.” We’ve been here before. Once she’s down, she has no strength in her legs and arms to get herself up and I can’t lift her, so she has to come up in stages.
She’s finally up and with a snack and some Royal Jelly nutrient to calm her nerves, she has stopped shaking.
“I can’t believe that wore me out so badly.”
“No more getting down anywhere, Mother.” I clean out the faucet aerator on her sink, which was going to be her next project, if she had been able to unscrew it from the faucet.
My frustration does battle with my determination. I will persevere. I will conquer the tasks that need doing in this old house. I will emerge triumphant. I don’t have the skills or the right tools, but I will not be defeated.
“For who knows but what you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this,” (Esther 4:14) comes to mind; a statement from Mordecai to his niece Esther, as he reminded her that she might have to die in order to stand up for doing the right thing. I doubt it will be that serious, but then, moving beyond frustrations and limitations can be a type of death; the type that leads to freedom and satisfaction at a job achieved and well done. If only I can hang on that long, which of course I will for it is God who is at work within me, so as to will and to work for His good pleasure (Ph 2:3). So take that, frustration.