Prompt: The leaky faucet in the kitchen was dripping as if someone was tapping out a lonely beat on a drum, like a broken clock struggling to keep time. It felt like the world was slowly unraveling and comping apart. I thought back to that morning when…
…our pipes froze the morning of my eighth birthday. My parents had planned a beach themed birthday party for me since I made a huge deal that year about wanting a summer weather birthday. My best friend at the time, Penny, had a birthday in June and got to enjoy pool parties and summer weather. I, on the other hand, had a birthday in March and did not get to experience that kind of fun. So my parents agreed to throw a summer themed birthday party for my March birthday. The only problem was that the day of my eighth birthday, we had an unexpected cold snap. Night time temperatures dropped to 9 degrees Fahrenheit (-13 Celsius) which we were not expecting. We had pipes freeze and burst leading to problems in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and basement. It was a mess.
I remember that my mother frantically ran around the house cleaning and coming up with fun inside activities for the kids that would be coming over. She called every parent on the guest list reassuring them that the party was still on and that we had plenty of room inside the house and that we had tons of indoor activities we could do. My father spent the morning swearing and fixing pipes, in that order. I had the job of following him around in my rain boots with a flashlight. I held it for him while he went around the house fixing leaks and replacing frozen pipes. He would mumble and curse and tell me where to shine the flashlight, but he never directed his anger at me or mom, just at those damned pipes.
That’s something that I always remember about him. My dad was one of the hardest working people I knew. He kept his head down, didn’t make a fuss, and did the job that had to be done without complaining about it. He worked at the auto part factory in town which I heard was grueling work. I didn’t really know what he did there, but he would always leave early in the morning before the sun rose and before I had to get up for school and he would always return late into the evening. Mom would fix the whole family dinner which we would eat without much talking. Dad would then go over to his chair in the living room. We would watch the local news, then the evening national news. Then he would go off to bed and prepare for another day.
Some people might hear that and think that my dad was emotionally distant or that he didn’t care about mom and I, but that is farther than the truth. He was a hardworking man willing to sacrifice everything for his wife and daughter and even though it took me years to see that, looking back it was obvious. Others thought he was a hardass with a tough exterior, but his passion for his family and his large heart really drove him to be the person he was. He worked hard in that factory, even picking up overtime shifts if needed because that was the only way to provide for us.
I don’t remember a ton about that 8th birthday party, but I do remember Dad fixing those pipes while I just stood there holding the flashlight. Eventually the water was restored and kids came over in their winter clothes to my indoor, summer themed birthday party. My mom tried her hardest to put on a fun party for me and the rest of the kids. I know that a ton of my fellow classmates were bummed out about not having a fun pool party like they were promised, but I had a fun time. We played games, ate pizza, had a cake, and did the normal things you would do at a eight year old’s birthday party. I opened up gifts that my parents gave me which included new clothes, a new pair of shoes, and a golden heart necklace. It was one of those that opened up and you could put a picture of someone you loved in there. I absolutely loved it.
I clutched the heart necklace in my hand as I watched the water drip.
“I can’t get the stupid thing to stop leaking,” My Mom said as she sat down at the kitchen table with her cup of coffee. “I’m going to have to call someone I guess.”
“I can take a look at it, Mom,” I said as I turn to her.
“No. No. You don’t have to do that,” She protested.
“Mom, Dad taught me how to do things like that. Fix pipes. Tile a bathroom. Change electrical wiring.”
“Yeah you and your dad were both quite handy,” My mom said taking a sip from her cup. “I never had the knack for it.”
“You were more of the party planner,” I said with a slight smile.
My mom sat down the cup and looked at me while I stood next to the sink.
“I see that you found that gold heart necklace we bought you,” She said.
I looked down at it as I clutched it in my hand.
“Yeah I had to go through some of my old stuff, but I found it,” I said. “That birthday was a bit of a mess, but I got this and I loved it.”
“Your dad picked it out,” Mom said. “It was a bit out of our price range due to buying all the party supplies and the shoes that you needed, but he… he worked extra for them.”
I turned back to see my mom wiping tears from her face as they tumbled into her cup.
I moved to her and wrapped my arms around her.
“I miss him so much,” She said through tears.
“I miss him too, Mom,” I said squeezing her.
I rested my head against her shoulder as tears streamed down my face.
“I just don’t know what we’re going to do without him,” My mom said.
“He’s still here watching over us, Mom. He’s still with us,” I said.
My eyes glanced back up to the broken kitchen sink. The water clinging to the faucet and then falling after it got too heavy.
The world was broken without a man like my father living in it, but we were going to be ok. It was just going to take a long time to truly be ok. They say time heals all wounds, but I knew that this would take longer to heal. We had lost an amazing man and that hole would not ever be filled. We had to make do with leaky faucets and indoor summer-themed birthday parties in March.
Header Photo Credit to Opus 1 Classical
Writing Prompt comes from Piccadilly “Complete The Story” Journal