The arrival of 2013 means my wife and I will soon be marking nine years in the Eastern Panhandle.
We moved here from Charleston in the summer of 2004.
Our kids were very young then: our son was entering first grade and our daughter was in pre-school. Now, he’s completed his first season in his high school marching band and our daughter is singing in her middle school choir.
I could run through many other milestones they’ve hit since we moved here, but they all show one thing: they are growing up fast. The time isn’t far off when we’ll be moving them into their college dormitories.
Right now, though, their mother and I are steeling ourselves to see them through their teenage years. They are at the age when they think they know everything and their parents are stupid and embarrassing.
There will come a day when they realize they don’t and we aren’t. There may be nothing we can do about the embarrassing part.
But for now, the arrival of 2013 – like birthdays – is an annual reminder that time doesn’t stop for anyone – not even for our kids. And, for that matter, not even for our household appliances.
I don’t mean to compare our kids with ovens and dishwashers. I’m just saying that as our kids get older and morph into recalcitrant teenagers, household appliances become just as troublesome with age.
Since we moved into our house, we’ve had to replace almost every modern convenience that came with it – the oven, the dishwasher, the garbage disposer, the laundry machine, the water softener and the hot water heater.
The only thing that hasn’t been replaced is our heat pump.
That’s not to say we haven’t worried about it. Fear of losing it to the ravages of time has become something of a running joke between my wife and me.
Whenever an appliance acts up – say, the dishwasher for instance – one of us will quip “Well, at least the heat pump still works.”
If our heat pump had hair, it would have turned white and brittle long ago. It might even be as old as our house, which was built back in the 1980s.
It’s been a workhorse. It’s kept going long past the time when it should have rolled over and gasped its last breath.
It hasn’t … yet. But over the holidays, we feared it would.
I woke up the day after Christmas to a heat pump in dire straits. It was wheezing. Ice had formed on top and the fan wasn’t spinning.
I turned it off, chipped away the ice and waited, thinking it might be refreshed once it took a nap. (A nap always works for me. Just ask my wife.)
After about an hour, I turned it back on. It still didn’t work properly, so I resigned myself to finding a repairman.
As a general rule, I don’t like calling fix-it guys – mostly because appliances these days aren’t made to be repaired. They are made to be replaced. The guy who has looked at our refrigerator, our dishwasher, our washing machine and our oven readily confirms as much.
He’s a nice guy, and I’ve learned a lot from him. I just don’t like having to write a check every time he tells me I’d be better off buying a new appliance than trying to fix the broken one.
But thankfully, the heat pump was different. The repair guy our helpful neighbor tracked down popped in a couple of new parts, and now we are back to being toasty.
I’m under no illusions, though. Our heat pump is ancient. and it’s probably not long for this world.
But I’m resolving not to worry about it this year .
It can be replaced.
Time with our kids can’t.