Yesterday the holding tank for our Artesian well began making strange noises, and eventually the pump stopped working. Back in 2001, after years of grief with an old reservoir that ended with the river that fed the reservoir drying up, members of our community were forced to purchase wells to provide water to their homes.
My father went in with his brother Frank, and two more households, mine and my neighbor, and paid a well drilling company to drill a well that would feed water to four homes. Everyone chipped in to pay the bill, which totaled well over $15,000. The enormous cost came from the fact that the only suitable water source was over 100 feet in the ground.
Despite the cost, the water was very clean and very safe to drink. The guy who drilled the well said that the water was amongst the cleanest he had ever tested. After the well was dug, we had to hire a plumber (and you know how much plumbers charge) to install the pump and the large holding tank that would be set up in my uncle Frank’s basement. This was in 2001, and until now, we have not had an issue with the tank, the pump, or the well. Until yesterday that is.
The tank contains a rubber bladder that assists the water pump. The tank itself is only supposed to last ten years, so we were fairly lucky to get twelve years out of it. After running tests as instructed by the same plumber who installed the unit all those years ago, we were unable to get it working. We came to the conclusion that the bladder had busted. The price for a new tank was $500, which may not seem like much money, but please remember that this is just a week after Christmas, and our pockets were all fairly empty by now.
Today, my dad, my uncle Frank, and I, along with the plumber, who made a house call ($$$) worked together to get the thing working again. After two hours of hard work in a very confined space, it was fixed.
The well working should have been the highlight of the day, but there was something that happened in the basement that was far more special to me. My dad and his brother spoke. Not only did they speak, they also told stories of their parents and how stubborn and comical my grandfather was. They even spoke about Gram.
Let me explain. Two months ago, my grandmother died. Along with her passing, the will that my grandfather had done up was read. He named my (Bi-polar (no, Tri-polar) Aunt who causes trouble wherever she goes) Patsy as the executor of the will. Rather than obey the will of my grandfather, she and a few of her siblings (Frank included) decided to screw over the others and purchase the house at a price far below the value of the property, and repair the home, and eventually rent it out and pocket the profit. Immediately the 11 member family was split down the middle. My dad, who said that he didn’t mind if they got the house, he just didn’t like the underhanded manner of which it had been done.
Eventually everything was worked out (a long story and perhaps the topic of another post), but the family remained split.
My dad and his younger brother Frank were close since they were kids. Frank always looked up to his older brother, and dad always made it a point to include Frank in his life when he got the chance. I have a picture of my dad and Frank when they were just teens. The picture was taken back in ’57, and you could tell that they were close. While I grew up, dad and his brother always hung around with each other. They fished together, chatted every day, and even shared tools in their sheds and garages. Later they worked together in the pulp and paper industry. And then this.
Working on the well today was the first time the two of them talked since my grandmother passed away. At first they kept it pretty professional, and then one of them, I think it was dad, mentioned a few funny things my grandfather used to do. Things like starting his car off in second gear because he hated driving that damn manual transmission, and things like being stubborn (see, I get it honestly) over everything, and eventually even funny stories about my grandmother. In just a little while, the two of them were laughing and talking, and me? I sat and listened, totally enjoying every minute of it. I think I may have even shed a tear or two, but I never let them see me, they would have called me a sissy.
When my father came home, I could tell that he was relieved. “I am happy to have that fixed, now I can relax” he said. Mom smiled and said “Yes, thank heavens the water is flowing again.”. My dad looked over and said “I wasn’t talking about the water, I am glad to have my brother back again, I missed him.”