Abraham and I arrived at the small tan brick house way on the west side of town. The front yard was neat and full of rose bushes that I imagine must be more beautiful when the air isn’t so the dry and the sun isn’t so hot. There were 5 lawn chairs lined up outside the front door, slightly shaded by the house, but I doubt sitting in them is much fun these days. The high that day was predicted to be 110, and the thermometer was already at 93.
Javier and Martha are both in their 80s, and had been without cooling for two weeks. Their son met us outside the home, underneath the custom made sign bearing the family name. He told us that his parents are tough as nails, and they hadn’t complained once since their cooler stopped working. I was impressed, because it had been one of the hottest weeks of the summer. These were days where the breeze feels like a hair dryer and even sun –down doesn’t make much of a difference. A new cooler would bring much needed relief for this couple and I was happy to be there. No one should be without cooling this time of year.
Abraham and I climbed up on the roof to assess the old cooler and Javier climbed up right behind us. Much like his yard and home, Javier’s look is polished: a crisp white shirt and matching ball cap. Even at 84 he marches right up the ladder and onto the sloped roof, offering company and water as we work.
We pulled the old cooler off the roof and began preparations for the new one. Javier doesn’t speak much English so he didn’t say much, he just watched us carefully and handed us tools when we needed them. Javier told Abraham that it had been stressful to not have cooling, but I never would have guessed based on his calm demeanor.
When we finished the job, Javier posed next his new cooler – clean and neat just like him. He didn’t smile much or say much, but I could see the relief in his shoulders and eyes, even under the hot sun and behind his sunglasses. Relief and thanks have no language barriers.