Courage at Twilight: Calling Stanley Steamer

Poor Dad has been obsessing over the imminent missionary reunion, making a long mental list of everything to be done. He had become justifiably worried, to the point of fright, about holding the reunion in the basement great room: the stairs would simply be impossible for him unless he were carried, and with a bunch of former 20-year-old missionaries now in their 70s, attempting to carry his muscular bulk up and down a flight of stairs would be dangerous and reckless for everyone involved.  While I was taking way too long to slowly and gently bring him around to this realization, Sarah simply announced the change of venue as a fact for him to deal with.  Quick and efficient and effective.  Dad knows not to argue with Sarah, though of course it was his best interest she had at heart.  I appreciated her bringing quick resolution to the issue.  Dad wanted the cream shag carpets to look clean and new, and called his favorite carpet cleaner Stanley Steamer—using the name “Stanley” makes the company seem downright personable.  He did his best with poor hearing and trembling fingers to navigate the endless telephone menus only to be stonewalled by a nation-wide collapse of Stanley’s computer reservation system.  Before I had my winter coat and traditional Portuguese hat off after work, Mom asked me to help Dad call Stanley Steamer.  After dinner, I suggested Dad try again, and he called the number.  Ten seconds later he handed the phone to me: “You talk to her.  I can’t hear a thing she’s saying.”  A minute later the reservation was made, for the next morning.  Mom and Dad both sighed with relief at crossing this item off the mental list.  Even his recliner received a steam cleaning, along with its food-stained carpet curtilage, and he sat in the chair with the protection of two blankets against residual moisture.  I had mentioned to Mom and Dad the thick layer of dust lying on their closet shelves and clothes and other contents, and wondered aloud about the possibility of having the air ducts and vents vacuumed.  They rightly stewed about the cost, but got a consultation and bid from friendly Stanley.  Stay tuned.  While I assembled our Hawaiian chicken and coconut rice dinner, Dad moseyed over to me behind his walker, puffing and grunting with the enormous effort—I could have told him not to bother, but did not want to insult his dignity—to apprise me of their strategy for paying this year’s income taxes and for stretching out their dwindling savings, and to tell me all the reasons why planet Earth is perfectly situated for life, rotating on an add axis angle that allows for changing seasons and hydrologic cycles and a balanced breathable oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere and how the moon’s gravity causes ocean tides and even land tides.  Did you know New York City rises and falls 14 inches each day under lunar tidal forces?  I didn’t.

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