I’m dating myself by this next comment, but I’m hoping many of you are familiar with the phrase, “That’s the way MacGyver would’ve done it,” or something to that effect. In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, MacGyver was a television show in the 1980’s and early 90’s.
MacGyver was a secret agent that possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of science and solved complex problems with everyday materials he finds at hand, combined with his ever-present duct tape and Swiss Army knife. He could build a shelter in eight minutes for a hundred people, withstanding an explosion that would normally level a townhouse. But remember, it’s MacGyver.
My father was like MacGyver. Kind of. Maybe a more accurate comparison would be MacGyver’s father, since we improve with each generation. So then maybe I should say grandfather. Yes, that feels right. My dad could have been MacGyver’s grandfather.
My dad could fix pretty much anything with his own two ever-present items – duct tape and bailing twine. We lived on a horse farm growing up, and bailing twine is the rope that holds a bale of hay together. We bought quite a bit of hay, which meant we had quite a bit of bailing twine.
Since my father never saw the need to throw the twine out, we had enough to go around the world. Or at the very least, enough to compete with the biggest ball of twine in America, which resides in Kansas. It measures forty feet in diameter, weighs nine tons and took more than twenty years to accumulate. No joke, Google it.
If we had a fence board broken in one of our horse paddocks, Dad would simply wrap bailing twine around the two broken pieces of fencing, add a little duct tape and voila’, it was fixed. Not temporarily fixed until he got another board. It was permanently fixed.
Looking back, I feel like our entire farm was held together with bailing twine, duct tape and odds and ends of different materials that would happen to be available when Dad was fixing something. He would be a good person to be stuck on a deserted island with, because he would make do with whatever was there. But as kids, this was extremely embarrassing and drove us crazy.
My father also possessed a strong knowledge of science. His, however, mostly came from cheating at the game Trivial Pursuit. We loved playing that game, but the majority of the questions were hard for whomever was playing and it was almost impossible to reach the end.
Except my father. He reached the inner circle, the “pinnacle” of knowledge on the game board almost every time we played. We were always in awe of how he knew the majority of the answers to the questions asked.
Our awe was brought to an end one day when we caught him cheating. He was sitting in his recliner, studying the questions and answers on a stack of the Trivial Pursuit cards, and then putting that stack of cards in the front of the box! There were five boxes, and he did it to each one.
He was caught red handed. He tried to say he was making sure the correct cards were in their correct boxes, but he knew his Trival Pursuit reign as Champion was over. From then on, anytime we played the game, one of us would shuffle the cards before we started. And my dad was never allowed to do it.
His MacGyver persona did not change when I became disabled. Actually, I think it got worse. Thank God I was injured as an adult, because otherwise I would have been the only kid with a wheelchair held together by bailing twine and duct tape. As an adult, I didn’t let him come near me with the either items.
We teased Dad mercilessly about his Mr. Fix It, but I have to say he had his shining moments. My favorite episode with my dad as our hero involves myself, my nephew and mud. A lot of mud.
My nephew, Tyler, was about ten years old (he is nineteen now) and he and I were playing outside at my dad’s house. There is a massive rock on Dad’s property the kids love to play on and hide behind and so on. Tyler and I were making our way to the rock.
If memory serves, we made it to the rock in decent shape. It was spring, and the ground was pretty saturated from melted snow and new rain. I had a manual chair that Tyler was pushing and we were lucky not to get stuck on our way there.
We played at the rock for quite a while. It’s huge; it’s like it’s own jungle gym. On the way back to the house, we tried to stay on the same path we took to the rock, figuring if we didn’t get stuck on the way out, we wouldn’t get stuck on the way in.
Not so. At the point when we could no longer see my front wheels, we admitted defeat. I was stuck, and we needed help. Tyler began making his way to Dad’s house for help.
He didn’t have to go far. My dad had been watching from inside and came out as soon as he saw Tyler starting his way. I dreaded hearing “I told you so” from my father, as he had warned us the ground was too soft and I would get stuck.
As Tyler and Dad approached me, I could tell Dad is thinking about what to do. Before he reaches me, he is unbuckling his belt and slides it off. No rope, not even his beloved bailing twine…his belt. He weaved the belt through one of the bars in the front of my chair and tells Tyler to grab the push handles in the back.
As Dad pulled and Tyler pushed, you could hear my chair become unstuck from the deep muck. We made our way across the property, and eventually reached driveway. It was still one long, slow incline to the entrance of my ramp but finally, we were there.
Grandpa MacGyver was fairly gracious about not rubbing anything in, and we non-believers were grateful for the help. You never know… If Grandpa MacGyver hadn’t been home that day, who knows how long I would have sat there?