Come along for the ride!!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Come in number 5

Crumbs, where does the time go?

I know, I know, no entries since Monday. It’s not out of laziness trust me, I have been ‘tres’ busy, at work in particular.

A lot has happened though. Joseph started back at school and breakfast club and got straight back into the swing of things without any problems. Annabel has been talking incessantly, new words, whole sentences even.

Probably the one thing that sticks out in my mind this week happened on Wednesday afternoon. All our Christmas decorations had obviously been packed away within the twelfth day time limit, thus avoiding any hocus pocus bad luck jiggery pokery nonsense. The boxes containing said decorations however, were still strewn across the floor of the living room looking rather messy to say the least.

Anyhoo, Joseph always jumps at the chance to go up into the loft as it is accessed by a rather terrific loft ladder that floats gently down on a large spring when you open the loft hatch.

Armed with a torch, he heads up first and I follow with this box and that box. When I’ve gotten everything up there, it’s time to store it for the next 11 months and in the absence of a loft light, Joseph has the important job of aiming our torchlight in my general direction.

It was this that opened the floodgates of my memory; holding a torch for Dad.

There were many occasions when I held a torch for my own Dad; working on his car, working on my car, up in his loft, in the garden etc etc.

Irrespective of what the job was, the scenario invariably went something like this; Dad doing all the work and me just holding the torch. I say 'just' but deep inside I knew (or felt at least), that it was the most important thing I could be doing at that exact moment for my Dad.

And make no mistake, I made it my priority that I would shine that torch in the most accurate way possible.

“Aim the torch at the alternator now boy”, my Dad would say, not that I would have known an alternator then OR now if it hit me square in the face.

“The alternator, right, of course, the alternator. And that would be …….”.

“No, over here. You remember the alternator don’t you? I showed you when we worked on my previous car the year before last”.

“Yes, yes, of course I do, the alternator, ha-ha, as if I would forget that, the alternator, there you go, I’m shining the light on the alternator right now”.

When I finally knew where I was supposed to be shining that torchlight, you can bet I did all in my power to keep it held steady. Unfortunately my Dad could work all day with only an occasional cup of tea and I had the attention span of a goldfish with Alzheimer’s (and that was 25 years ago!!).

Similarly, if Dad was working on an electric socket, I felt that he would only get through it safely if I kept the torchlight focussed and unwavering on the exact spot required.

It was memories like these that came rushing back while in the loft with Joseph. I remembered that sense of importance, of pride that I was helping “my Dad” at something. Not just any old thing, but apparently the job wouldn’t have gotten done without me, such was the importance of holding steady!!

“That’s it Poops, hold it right there, let me just slide the Christmas tree back into this gap over here”.

“Like this Dad, like this?” he asked, hoping to have done a good job.

“That’s it boy, absolutely perfect, well done”.

With the job finished, we came down from the loft and pushed the ladder up together. What follows next is as important as the torch holding itself: the washing of hands.

(pause to think back)

I remember now.
My Dad bought me a boiler suit, just like he would wear and the kind that any self-respecting mechanic would have on at your local MOT centre; you know the type. They were dark blue and I would wear them only if I helped on Dad’s car.

When the job was all done, we would put the tools away, sockets in the correct place in the socket set, giving the feeler gauges a wipe with an oily rag to keep them smooth “for next time we need them”.

And then, we would wash our hands together. Not just wash them, but use Dad’s tub of Swarfega, an industrial cleaner which magically got rid of grease, oil and the like. It was bright green and you literally scooped a handful out and set about getting your nails clean and the oil from your hands up to your wrists (where the muck stopped thanks to the boiler suit).

After the Swarfega, the fairy liquid under hot running water; job done.

And so, Joseph and I washed our hands together (regular soap – it was only the loft after all), me thanking him for his help, how I would have struggled without him, how I hope he’ll be able to help me the next time.

The look on his face told me he’d be more than happy to help me again.

And I’m sure he will.

Until he gets older of course, when he’ll have better things to do than help his Dad, when his time will be too precious to hold a silly torch.

I know that time will come, eventually.

But until it does, he’s my Chief Torch Holder, no doubt about it.

We dried our hands and I thanked him again, then ruffled his hair the way Dad’s do.

It means a lot.

Thanks for teaching me that Dad.

Among other things.


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