It wasn’t long after her mother died my wife asked if her father could live with us. We had an empty apartment upstairs. Dad wouldn’t be much trouble, she said. He was old now and had difficulty getting around. We put a stair lift in so he could ride up to his apartment. Otherwise he walked pretty well with a cane.
Dad would come down for dinner, and we'd put our pit bull—a not too friendly pit bull—in the basement. Dad would eat, chat a bit and then ride his stair lift back upstairs. But when the chair developed a mechanical problem, Dad was stuck upstairs.
I called the company and they were nice but said the repairman couldn’t come for a week. I explained Dad’s situation and the repairman still couldn’t come for a week. A week later the repairman rang the doorbell, tool box in hand. I had taken the afternoon off work because that was easier for me than for my wife. We had put Dad in a rest home until the stairlift got fixed.
After checking the machine and calling the office, the repairman said the lift needed a part not in stock. It would take three days to arrive. I agreed to be there three days later but the phone rang in the morning and the part had not arrived. It would take three more days and I agreed again to be there to let him in. But three days later the phone rang and still no part. Could we wait three more days. What choice did we have.
The day finally arrived and the phone didn’t ring so I came home and waited for the repairman. He wasn't on time so I sat and thought about, of all things, the assassinations of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.
I was young then and liked Robert Kennedy. I remembered one famous quote of his when an interviewer asked how he handled political dirty tricks. Kennedy smiled and said he always chose not to get mad but to get even. That made sense to me at the time, young as I was, but now in later years I had stopped getting even when I might have done that in the past.
Finally the doorbell rang and I went to answer it but suddenly stopped. I went to the basement door and let the pit bull come up. Then I answered the door and stepped back. The repairman never had a chance to say hello.
It took another three weeks for a different company to fix the stair lift. Dad was very happy to get home. Our pit bull was put down. A month later we bought another pit bull pup from the same breeder. No problems with the stair lift since then. I would have voted for Robert Kennedy.