Further proof that I have become my father


Not that being like my father is an entirely bad thing!

I love to have my coffee in the morning. Nothing starts my day better than a good, strong cup of coffee! For this, I use a coffeemaker that I setup the night before I go to bed. I have to clean it out, put water in the reservoir, pour beans in the grinder, and set the timer so the this whole coffee-brewing operation occurs just shortly before I wake up. The coffee brews as I am waking up and I literally wake up and smell the coffee. I have to have a daily routine, which once again reminds me of my father. He had certain routines that he had to follow even when they were no longer practical. For example, he still carries a flashlight, screwdriver, and pliers everywhere he goes–just in case!–even though he no longer is a mechanic and he uses a walker to answer the door.

Anyway, one day, my coffeemaker needed cleaning. The compartment that holds the strainer/filter no longer opened freely when I pushed the release button and I had to jiggle the tray to open it. I cleaned it with hot water and a sponge, but there was no improvement in its operation. So I took out a flashlight that I had handy in one of the kitchen cabinet drawers and examined the coffeemaker thoroughly with that flashlight, just like my father. I was poking around with a screwdriver to see if I could duscover the cause of the malfunction. At that precise moment, I noticed a little screw that I believed held the tray in place. It was screaming, “Don’t even think of unscrewing me!” But I unscrewed it anyway! A little spring came flying at my face, but I knew that if I dodged it I would never find it again. Luckily, the spring hit my glasses and landed on my lap. I removed the remaining pieces from the coffemaker, but the filter tray did not come out! I found some coffee buildup and cleaned it out. However tempted I was to remove the remaining screws, I managed to control myself. So I attempted to put the coffeemaker back together again after cleaning it thoroughly.

It wasn’t as easy as I had hoped. The spring that had attacked me, resisted returning to designated location. I suppose it flew at me in a rage because it didn’t want to be there in the first place. Yet, if I wanted my coffeemaker to brew coffee again, I had to force it back in there in that tight little space from whence it flew out. My sons asked what I was doing and I answered them honestly, “I don’t know.” I knew there was a way to get that spring back in there. I just had to keep trying. Just then it occurred to me that I had become my father!

I remembered a time when I was about ten years old and my father had bought a “new” used station wagon that needed some work. He had never bought a new car in his life. The rear door window was was in the backseat and my father wanted to install it before we went to bed that night. I remember helping him because “Sometimes you need three hands to do certain car repairs,” as my father would always tell me when he needed my help. Of course, I always hated helping him because he would never stop until he had finished what he had started, even if it took hours or days. Well, we started well before sunset. My father took off the door panel and inserted the window. “Mira qué fácil fue,” my father said, as if he actually believed that it was that easy. When he tried cranking the window down, it just slid all the way to the bottom of the door. He was extremely disappointed by his failure, but that only made him more determined to succeed and me more wary of what was in store for me. My father tried for hours, until well after sunset, to get that window to function properly. He tried every possible remedy: screws, nuts, coat hangers, duct tape. But nothing worked! I wanted to go in the house, but my father needed me to hold the window in place while he adjusted the coat hanger and duct tape. He was bound and determined to make that window work! Well, he finally did it, sometime after midnight. And he was quite proud of his accomplishment.

So there I was trying to put this spring back in my coffeemaker when I remembered my father trying to fix the window of his “new” used station wagon. I thought of getting a third hand–which would have come in handy–from one of my sons, but that spring went into a tight little space where I could barely put in three fingers. I thought I had put the spring in place on my very first attempt. But when I pushed the release button, nothing released. I realized the spring wasn’t in the proper place, applying the proper tension. I tried several more times and I failed over and over. I really wanted my coffee the next morning, so I thought of buying a new coffeemaker. But, no! I thought of my father not giving up with his “new” used station wagon window. I became as determined as my father and fixed that coffeemaker by putting that spring in place. Each attempt brought me closer. It was as if I was practicing to put in place, until I actually put it in place and the coffemaker worked like new. I promised myself to never take out that spring again!

The next morning, I had the best cup of good, strong coffee that I have ever had in my life!

¡Ay! I didn't just say that like my father, did I?

David Diego Rodríguez, Ph.D.
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