“Dad said to tell you not to worry, it’ll all be fine.”
“Of course he did,” I thought knowingly. “He always says that.”
Still, I couldn’t help but smirk as I felt my shoulders relax and my breath come more evenly. He was so good that he could calm me down just by relaying a sentence through my mother. Dad said it was going to be ok so, inevitably, it would be.
When I was a kid, my dad was everyone’s go-to person for all things traumatic. Headless dolls, knotted jewelry, hurt feelings, sputtering engines- anything you threw at him was not returned until it was as good as new. No matter what else was on his plate, he pushed it aside for anyone who approached him with anything from a broken car to a broken heart.
But, over the years, I’ve watched him become tired. I’ve watched him battle cancer and lung disease. I’ve watched him fight through the urge to collapse when the pain in his knees becomes unbearable. I’ve watched him grow older.
And so, over the years, I’ve worried, and I’ve prayed that he’d retire from being everyone’s go-to guy, and I’ve tried to call less often with my problems – he’s popped the hood on enough of my cars and dried enough of my tears. The guy deserves a break.
And I guess in the midst of all those years, something else happened. I became The Fixer.
I’ve become the fixer of dolls, the mender of ripped blankets, and the binder of cracked books.
I’ve become the organizer of play-dates and sleepovers; the event planner of barbecues, birthday parties, and holiday dinners; and the mastermind behind surprise date nights, weekend getaways and summer road trips.
I’ve become the scheduler (and often the chauffeur) for pediatrician appointments, dental procedures, veterinary surgeries, and car check-ups.
I’ve become the maker of the weekly menu and the personal shopper who can traverse the aisles of 3 grocery stores in a single lunch hour.
I’ve become the stylist of toddler hair, the manicurist of tiny fingers and toes, and the “I can’t fall asleep, Mommy” reader of countless books and singer of countless songs.
I’ve become the dance party coordinator, the popcorn popper, and the “of course you can sit on the counter and keep me company” baker of all things chocolate and fabulous.
I’ve become the soother of diaper rash, the groomer of water-averse dachshunds, and the cleaner of scrapes of all shapes and sizes.
I’ve become the go-to person.
But this particular morning, I fell a bit short.
I braced myself as I heard the sickening thud of my children tumbling down the stairs; I took a deep breath as I watched them emerge in the hallway, tangled up like two cats that had just been in a brawl. I untangled legs and arms; I checked for injuries; I carried them gently to the couch; I wiped up blood and tears and applied Olaf boo-boo ice and monster bandages.
I clenched my teeth and shook it off when our 40lb puppy came skidding around the corner to bring me her favorite toy, legs flailing, and knocked me over like a red-headed bowling pin.
I steadied myself when I skidded on a patch of black ice on my way to the car and almost slammed into the garage door face-first.
It had been a rough morning, but it would be fine. It would be fine. I could do this.
Then I put the key in the ignition.
Suddenly, my magic was gone.
I couldn’t do this.
I needed my go-to person.
“Dad? I’m so sorry, I know it’s early, but my battery is dead and I have a meeting at 10am and I need to get Grace to school…”
Thirty minutes later, there was my fixer, strolling across my driveway, greeting me with a hug, a smile, and a “Good morning. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything.”
And he did.
But of course, he first had to greet my very excited and surprised daughter, say good morning to my very excited and surprised dog, and let me know that “I picked up a replacement for that broken piece on your front door” and “hey you know the base of your cabinet in the bathroom is loose. You could just use glue- let me know if you need some.”
I stood in the bay of his shop as he walked over to my car with my new battery, which was waiting for us the moment we walked through the door because he had called his boss to save me time. I watched my daughter’s face pass back and forth between amazement and total adoration while he moved swiftly around the bay, working under the hood, putting air in my tires, and checking the tail light that I admitted had been burnt out for a few days (or months…).
I stared at him, dumbfounded, when I tried to give him my Visa and he just waved his hand and said, “You’re all set, love you, Happy Valentine’s Day.”
I laughed when, five minutes later, as I was trying to calm my daughter, who was wailing, “I want to stay with GRANDPA TODAY!!!” he came to the car and said, “Sorry, I forgot to give you directions to your job.”
“Oh, Dad it’s ok, I have a GPS-“
“Ok but here, let me tell you anyway.”
I laughed again when, not even 5 minutes after I walked into my office, I got a text that read, “I got headlight and brake light bulbs for you; maybe stop by tonight and I’ll change them.”
I am, in fact, a very good fixer, and not to brag (ok I want to brag a little), I’m an expert juggler. I can juggle my children, my career, my husband, my family, and my friends’ needs like The Cat in the Hat juggles the ship and the cup and the book and the cake and the fish in the bowl and…all the other stuff he juggles (before he falls). But at the end of the day, even us go-to people need go-to people of our own.
At the end of the day, we all need someone who will let us breathe for a few minutes while they handle all of the grown up stuff. Someone who will lend us a little of their magic when ours isn’t enough.
And I guess no matter how old he gets, or how tired he is, or how early in the morning or late at night it may be, my dad will always have enough magic for me on those days when mine runs dry; those days when I need him to come over, hug me, and make everything alright again.