Last evening, while visiting my grandmother, she asked me to take a look at her ancient Kirby vacuum. Apparently, the dust particles in her vehicle had demanded attention earlier in the afternoon, and somehow that led to the disassembly of the vacuum for reasons that still escape me. So here’s this Kirby. The belt is hanging loose, pieces are flapping, but Gramma says, “I still managed to vacuum all the rooms after I brought it in from outside. I don’t know if it picked anything up though. It was making just the most horrible sound.” Please keep in mind here that Gramma is rather hearing impaired, requiring two hearing aids which are never worn. Yes, Gramma, I bet it was loud.

So, I’m crouched on the carpet, playing with the levers and belt and she keeps saying how easily Grandpa would be able to fix it if he was still here. And that was that: a challenge from the grave. This vacuum is obviously older than me, so I figured it was beyond all reasonable hopes that the user guide was still lying around. I drank the rest of my ice-cold water, enjoyed a piece of sponge candy, kissed Gramma goodbye, and made my exit with one Kirby in tow.

Back home, I googled vacuum belt repair on Kirbys, only to learn that it is considered the most complicated belt change in the vacuum industry. Ok, Grandpa, bring it on!  A few YouTube videos later, and Presto! One fully belted Kirby! Then, the real test….plug this baby in and watch her go…ready, set…..ummm…the power is on, right? Shoot.

I sat cross-legged, talking to this vacuum in the middle of my livingroom floor, asking the powers-that-be to give me a break. Grandpa, I could have really used your help just about then. It just had to work. I checked my plug again. Made sure the room switches were on. Fiddled with every movable piece of that Kirby. And clicked the burgundy button once more. And….a most satisfying whoosh filled up my home. I ran the Kirby around the room, making fan-like designs, wondering how many of my messes, of my mother, of my aunt, and uncle, this silly vacuum has erased over these many years.

Dear Grandpa,

I miss you.

And your obsession with spit and polish.

Thanks for the challenge.

And thanks for helping me out last night.

I hope I make you proud.