I've decided to write a post about my father in law, Al, because it happened again today. That man has everything. The only problem is, he doesn't always remember where "the everything" is.
Al was born in Montana to a family of 13 children. He was one of the younger boys, but expected to work just as hard as the rest of them. At the age of 8 he was living up in the hills, alone, watching the cattle. "Bachin it" as he says. He grew up during the Depression so learned to do without and save everything. Of course, living on a working ranch taught him that anyway. Al lived a rough life; a cowboy and rancher. When he grew up, he went away to war - and since Al spoke English, German, and Czechlosovakian - they sent him over the lines to spy on the enemy. He almost died, several times.
He came home after the war a different man. Who didn't? He would spend the rest of his life without any feeling in his feet and constant back pains. Yet, through all that, he would still work hard, support a wife and 5 children. He had Prostate Cancer in his 40's - around the same time that his youngest son was born (my husband).
Al never thought he'd life to see his son grow up. Yet, here he is at 86 years old and alive to see his son's son. This tickles him and when he thinks about it, he laughs. Al's laugh is catchy. You can't help but laugh with him.
My in-laws moved to Oregon in the 60's so that their children could have more opportunities and a better education than what rural Montana had to offer. They bought a home with 5 acres in the Portland-metro area. Al and his wife have watched their neighborhood grow and change over the past 40 some years. He is still a Montana rancher at heart and part of him wishes to be there today.
For several years, now, Al's kids (and their spouses) have tried to convince him to downsize. The house is full of "stuff". The garage and 3 sheds are full of "stuff". And when I mean "stuff" I don't mean garbage. I mean anything that could possibly be reused or saved for another project. Al is the ultimate recycler. He is never going to downsize because he knows we need him and his "stuff."
We always check with Al, first, if we need something. For example, when I wanted to have a laundry line at my house, Al had two extra posts lying around. I just had to sand some rust off and then spray paint them. He had laundry line too. Have a broken toilet? Al has a bunch of parts lying around. Need a little bit of fencing to keep rabbits out of your garden? Al has a whole bunch of it tied up behind the shed. My husband and I inherited a gorgeous wood dining table. Al had a set of 12 wood chairs. Sure, they needed sanding and re-staining. But after paying Al $100 for the chairs and using some elbow grease, we have a decent set for our table. On and on the list goes.
Recently, Al's been feeling very poorly. Us kids have been talking to Al and wife about downsizing again. At least trying to get them to start cleaning out the "Stuff" from the garages and sheds... hiring help to come take it away. But Al can't part with it.
My husband has a project to widen our driveway. He can't quite park the boat. He needed cement drainage tiles to lay alongside the drainage ditch in front of our house. Guess who just happen to have 4 extra cement drain tiles in his yard. Yup, Al. My husband said those have been laying in the yard since the late 1970's when the county widened the road in front of his parent's house. Al saved those tiles because someone might need them. He was right. We can't argue with that.