I never knew that a bolt could teach me something about my husband Rod. The man I’ve spent over half my life with. The simple truth of our life together is that we’ve been through a lot. We’ve spent more of our life fixing what was broken than I ever dreamed we would. I’ve been his helpmeet through every bit of life. He’s more like his grandpa “Papa” Sloan than I ever knew. Papa lived through tough times, with Mama Chloe right by his side. Papa could fix anything, he was stubborn and deeply devoted to his family. Rod is his Papa “made over”.
Along with the excellent qualities mentioned above, Papa was always looking for a good deal. We once watched Papa negotiate a car deal for a Yugo with some yuppie sales person in Edmond. I’m not sure that salesperson made a penny off that deal, but I am sure he never forgot selling a car to Mr. Edwin Sloan. Papa was all about the hunt and if he had his mind set on something, he wouldn’t give up till he had it. It might take six months to find just the right thing, but he was willing to wait. Rod is the exact same way. This made car shopping for our teenagers a very long ordeal. Hours were spent on Craigslist, and several trips were made to look at vehicles that didn’t result in a purchase. All of this to preface the story about the bolt…
We had finally purchased cars for our teenagers. Our daughter had her heart set on a Honda CRV, and we looked long and hard until finding one. We had it three weeks when she broke down on the highway. Our fears were confirmed that it was the timing belt. This usually means a new engine if it breaks at highway speeds. We (along with our daughter) were devastated. Two days after her car breaks down, our son’s Nissan Sentra burns up the clutch. Two teenagers, three work schedules and one car. I was one stressed momma. We managed to make schedules work with one car while Rod ordered parts and began reading up on making the repairs. Because of ease of repair, and the fact that we would have to work on the Honda before determining if it needed a new engine, the Nissan was fixed first. It meant removing the front wheels, the drive shaft, and removing the transmission to replace the clutch. It was terribly messy work, so much grease and dirt. In 100 degree temperatures. We were not looking forward to fixing vehicle number two.
Fixing the Honda meant removing the front wheel, something with the power steering, taking off the engine cover, (a bunch of other mechanical stuff) and busting the crankshaft bolt to replace the timing belt and water pump. Once these were replaced, we could see if the engine would turn over and then go from there. All this work to not even know if the car was going to run. It was hard to get excited about. Rod tore into the car and reached the point of taking off the crankshaft bolt. There is another terribly long story about this homemade tool that he spent hours reading about, basically some plumbing parts to wedge into the crankshaft to hold it steady while the interior bolt is removed, but that will be for another blog… So, I go out to help him with the bolt. This involves the homemade tool, a trampoline pole (used as leverage), and did I mention that it’s 100 degrees? We start trying to break the bolt. Our son comes out to help, we work for a half an hour and a friend stops by to visit. I fix lunch, our son goes to work and we get back on the bolt. Did I mention I’m in a skirt and flip flops? It’s 100 degrees… I’m pushing on this 6 ft trampoline pole while Rod is under the car. We do this for over an hour. Sweat running down the back of my legs, Rod on the hot gravel driveway. Kids running outside every 10 minutes to tattle on one another, it is not pretty. None of it. I’m frazzled, Rod is up and down out from under the car, at least three dozen times. I’m getting frustrated – tempers are short, I’m upset that we don’t seem to be getting anywhere. The homemade tool is adjusted several times and we continue trying to break the bolt. Rod is determined. I am not. I’m supposed to go bra shopping with a 12 year old girl. Said girl keeps coming outside with a pout to see when we’re going to Target. When is he going to give up??? This redneck hillbilly homemade tool is not going to work…
After over an hour, I leave to go bra shopping. I’m at Target for 15 minutes and I get this text:
Two hours and one bolt says so much about the man I married. He isn’t giving up. Ever. He is putting in the hard work. When it’s hot, when he’s physically tired, when it means hard work just to do more work. When his wife is unsure (ouch), he isn’t giving up. I can’t believe how much that one task says about his character. This story ends with the greatest victory and it is much more than one bolt.
The bolt removed, the new parts installed, we still don’t know if this work has been for nothing. Rod gets the car put back together enough to turn the key and see if the engine turns over. I stand in the driveway nervous about both of our reactions if it doesn’t. Will I still see God’s blessings if the car needs a new engine? Rod turns the key and the engine starts and runs. We are so grateful. Everything we had read and heard said that the engine would almost certainly need to be replaced. Another half hour replacing things on the engine, he takes the car for a test drive and delivers it to our daughter who is thrilled to have her car running again.
I am blessed. I married a man who fixes things. He is confident in his ability to do just about anything, (although I draw the line at self-directed dental and medical work). He loves his family deeply and has provided every need our family has had in the past 23 years. He works hard and values the lessons learned in doing the job as much as the completed job. Our life together in this fallen world will no doubt involve things breaking down. There is no one I would rather fix things with.
I hope to have many more years of handing tools, pulling wires, carrying brush, scraping paint, and holding the ladder.