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Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Location: United States

Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Furnace is on the Fritz

Mom's furnace is on the fritz. Sometime during the night it quit working. About 3:00 AM I woke up chilled to the bone. I went down in the basement and checked the circuit breakers. They were fine, so I pulled the cover from the furnace and pushed the reset button. The furnace kicked on but it only ran for about 10 minutes and shut off. When I pushed the reset button again, it did nothing.

I peeked into Mom’s room and noticed she had the covers pulled up over her head. That told me she was cold, so I pulled another blanket from the closet and put it over her. She continued to sleep peacefully until I woke her to get her ready for the day care.

Upon arriving home, I called the gentleman who maintains her furnace every year. He said he wouldn’t be able to come out until this evening because he had several ‘no heat’ calls before us, and a furnace installation to do. Tom’s been my mom and dad’s furnace maintenance man for more than 20 years, and since Dad died he always makes sure he takes care of Mom’s furnace at the beginning of his busy season. Last year, we had him put a new furnace in because the old one was on its last leg. Within a few minutes of my call, Tom called back and said he was on his way. He said he has a soft spot for widows and especially Mom because he liked my dad so much.

He arrived at 8:30 and performed the usual maintenance of changing the nozzle, the fuel oil filter, and the furnace filter. The furnace fired up, ran for about six minutes, and quit. He bled the line to get the air out and still the same thing. After a few more adjustments, the furnace fired up and ran even after he left at 11:00. I went to my house, Two Feather and I ran a few errands, and went to Mom’s around 2:00 to make sure the furnace was still working. When we walked in the house, we knew it had shut off after he left and not come back on. The thermostat was still at 62 degrees.

I called Tom again. He had just finished with a call and said he’d come right over. He was here within 20 minutes, pushed the reset button, and left again to go to his parts supplier to pick up a new module for the furnace. He was back again by 3:10, installed the new part, and wouldn’t you know it, that part was defective, so he left again to get another one.

In the meantime, I left to pick up Mom at day care and Two Feather sat outside on my mom’s porch waiting for Tom in case I wasn’t back in time. I told Mom that Tom had worked on the furnace most of the day and he would be back to fix the furnace by the time we returned home.

Turned out Tom called me on my cell phone just before I pulled up to the house. He said they didn’t have another module in stock and it would take two days to get it in. He was on his way over to drop off heaters to keep the house warm for Mom until the part comes in. For him to make my mom’s house his first priority was kind. To come back within hours pushing all his other calls later when I called again was kind. To bring heaters to make sure Mom was warm…that goes above and beyond in my book.

Tom knows Mom has Alzheimer’s and when he walked in with the heaters, he said, “Hi Mrs. Kiggins, how are you?” “I’m fine. I don’t think I know you,” she said. Tom was so sweet. He took his hat off and said, “Maybe with my hat off you’ll know me.” I could tell Mom still didn’t know who he was and so did he, but she said, “Yeah, I think I remember you.”

Tom set up the heaters around the house and left. The house was still chilly because the heaters hadn’t been on very long and Mom said, “It’s cold in here. You’d better call the furnace guy and have him fix that thing. I don’t think it’s working.” So much for Tom taking off his hat for her to recognize him, she didn’t even remember him being there two minutes after he left. LOL I told her the house would warm up as soon as the heaters ran a little longer.

I put an extra blanket on her bed just in case. By the time we ate dinner and she dressed for bed her room was very warm. It didn’t take her but a few minutes to fall asleep.

Tonight is Monday night Steelers football, and since Mom is in bed sleeping I’ll actually get to watch a game for a change. Haven’t watched one since I moved in with Mom because she’s not a real fan of football. She used to sit and read or crochet when Dad watched the Steelers. Everything time he’d yell and cheer when they got a touchdown, she’d jump in her chair and say he ‘scared the living daylights out of her’. I root and cheer just like Dad used to, so I figured it’s best if I don’t turn the games on when she’s in the room. We need all the living daylights we can get. ROFL

Don’t think I’ll be getting much sleep for the next couple nights. I’m not a fan of electric and oil heaters running, so I’ll be up and down all night checking them to make sure they’re not heating anything except the rooms. Never can be too careful.

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Blogger nancy said...

i will pray that it doesn't get too cold for you the next two days. i know what you mean about space heaters. i don't fully trust them as well.

it sounds as if you will have to do a lot of repeating during that time as well as to why it's cold. the joys of AD.

hang in there and use your oven the next few days vs. the stove. every little bit helps!

11/05/2007 8:40 PM  
Blogger Lori1955 said...

what an angel Tom is to be so concerned about your mom.

Electric heaters scare me too. As I'm typing that my air conditioner just kicked on. What a difference a couple thousand miles makes.

You know, we all know that people with AD forget these things and yet it is still heartbreaking every time it happens.

Hope you stay warm tonight.

11/05/2007 8:59 PM  
Blogger ~Betsy said...

Oh gosh - of course there are snow flurries and low temperatures in the forecast for the next couple of days. Ugh. I hope you can stay warm and keep mom comfortable.

Could you take her to a hotel if it gets too cold? I toyed with that when my well went out, but worried it would be too much of a change.

Hang in there, Joanne.

11/06/2007 11:37 AM  
Blogger ~Betsy said...

By the way - the Steeler game was awesome, wasn't it? :)

11/06/2007 11:39 AM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Thank you, Nancy. Right now it's 38 degrees outside, but the house is nice and toasty at 70. The heaters are working well. I check them every few hours.

Today I roasted a chicken in the oven so that helped a bunch. :)

11/06/2007 6:28 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Yes, Lori, Tom is a sweetheart. Brrrr, you gave me chills just hearing that your air conditioner kicked on. LOL

Funny, the house must be warm enough, Mom hasn't mentioned being cold since. :D

11/06/2007 6:31 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Hi Betsy. Two Feather and I watched a few snow flurries this afternoon. I did think about taking Mom up to my house, but I think the change would be too much for her. Her house is holding the heat from the heaters pretty well. I let them run for a few hours, turn them off for a few to give them a break, and turn them back on again. It seems to be working out okay.

That Steelers game was awesome! I found myself having to cup my hand over my mouth a few times during some of those fantastic plays, so I wouldn't wake Mom. :D

11/06/2007 6:36 PM