Be Free

Monday, June 20, 2011

Eulogy for a vacuum cleaner

It says a lot for my hub's understanding of me that he did not protest when I took these photos. He seems OK with me getting over-attached to inanimate objects. I also get over-attached to animate ones, but that is more acceptable in most circles. This story may be a bit too graphic for some viewers, but I did try to leave out the grittiest parts.

Many many years ago (more than half as long as I have been alive), I decided I'd purchase a vacuum cleaner to vacuum my horses. I was living in NM at the time in a house without running water. There was no simple way to get dust off my horses (and there was an abundance of dust on them, believe me). I had seen horses at shows being vacuumed. That's where I got the idea. While I was home visiting the first summer (1980), I went to a local vacuum cleaner store and purchased a refurbished Eureka canister vacuum for $65. I was told that new it would have been over $300. Even so, $65 was pretty pricey for something I intended to use as grooming equipment. I bought it and took it back with me to my primitive residence in NM.

During the subsequent 31 years, I used it possibly twice for horse vacuuming and hundreds and hundreds of times for more typical purposes. I cleaned the church with it (because unlike the upright the church owned, it allowed me to vacuum the fabric on the pews and the window sills and under the pulpit and behind the commodes). I cleaned houses I lived in. I cleaned houses that others lived in. Sometimes there was some really gross stuff that vacuum sucked right up without complaint. Occasionally it did sort of choke, but with persuasion it would gulp down dust buffalos, dried up dog poop, spilled cheerios, dead roaches, shriveled lizards, flea eggs...(you were warned this might get graphic, but I'll stop since the list gets worse). This vacuum ventured many places more expensive and pampered vacuums were called to go.

In the 90's I found that the bags for it were no longer sold alongside the bags of more contemporary models. I was distressed to think that I would have to give it up because I couldn't get bags for it! Then I found the 99cent stores had ended up with the remaining H bags and I bought up all their packages at 3 for $1. I bought so many that it was possible to change the bag every time I used the vacuum. Thus, when I turned on the machine it didn't have that dust mold stink that most vacuums do (because of the stuff still left in the bag's innards).

Anyway, that vacuum was my faithful helper when folks who were moving out had to clean up their apartments before the landlord came to evaluate and decide whether their deposit could be refunded. It could reach drapes, venetian blinds, cobwebs on ceiling fans, mouse droppings in the bottom of ovens, spiderwebs along the baseboards, mud clods in the garage...

While we lived in our barn for three years, it could get under the tightly jammed furniture, under the fridge, under and behind the washing machine, up on the top bunk bed, along the top of the door frames, on the steep fact, I could stand on the stairs and vacuum off the top of the fridge, bookshelves...

Since we've been in our house it continued to serve until a couple of months ago when it began to make a screeching sound in protest: a sound I could not ignore. I told Kevin I thought something awful was wrong with it.

Last week we took it to the vacuum store on Lamar: the store that occupies the same building that used to be the Chicken Shack. The owner himself turned the vacuum on, heard enough to make his diagnosis; he said with certainty the motor was dying: the heart of it. The metal body was still in decent shape (with a few dents and a seal slipping and the on-off switch cover gone). The hose was fine (it was actually the only part I'd replaced in 31 years; it was comparatively new). The expert commented on the metal attachments (since the newer ones are plastic). He said that it was up to me whether I wanted to have a new motor installed or just buy a new machine. He readily admitted that a new machine would not last like this one had. He said that a newer one would have better suction.

Then, he told me that he thought the actual hose and tools from my old machine could be mounted on a new Eureka Mighty Mite. He showed me that cute little model and suddenly it seemed less like I was giving up my buddy, and rather more like a transplant was being done.

I realized as I stood in the valley of decision that I had no photos of my faithful ol' pal. So, I took some to remember him by.

I can't explain why I care about such things emotionally. I didn't even give the vacuum a name. Maybe it has something to do with living alone (or without other humans) for so many years. But, whatever the reason, I do have a deep appreciation for the gifts God gives (including the tools, vehicles, shelters, AC!...)

It just doesn't seem right not to express my gratitude for the vacuum I bought on a silly whim 31 years ago that has allowed me to serve others and keep the outdoors at bay wherever I am.

Although I left the body on the counter, I carried away a descendant wearing the hose and wand of his great GREAT grandfather Eureka!

The LORD provides what we need if we keep our hand open!

Above we see the new Eureka (yellow) silently awaiting the transported hose.
The transplant was quick and seemingly painless.
I didn't ask what would become of the old body. I didn't want to know.
A few of you may recognize this (I made allusion to it in the story).
The Mighty Mite is hoisted on board for the trip home with us. He proudly sports the tools of his famous predecessor.

1 comment:

  1. AWWWW I can understand completely the love you have and the sentiment for this machine. So cute too. I am sorry.