When God Adjusts the Thermostat

She hadn’t tinkered with the thermostat. Why did the heat come back on?

Posted in , Nov 28, 2014

woman turning down the heat on thermostat

Even in Texas, December gets cold, but we needed to keep our heating bill low. With my husband, James, at work, why keep the house warm just for me? I turned down the thermostat until the display read 66 degrees, then hit the “Hold” button. With a click, the furnace shut off. I started sweeping the floors as the winter chill slowly began to seep into the house. I could practically hear my dad admonishing me—“Turn up the heat!”

It was December 6th, exactly one year since Dad had passed away. The memories were too painful to revisit, yet all day I’d been replaying the 3:00 A.M. phone call that James and I got from Mom. News of Dad’s stroke. His last few days in the hospital.

If only Dad could see me now, shivering to save a few bucks, I thought. Dad was thrifty too, but he always poked fun at me for taking it too far. When I moved into my first apartment, a tiny studio that just barely fit my budget, Mom and Dad came for a visit. “Isn’t it a bit frosty in here?” Dad asked, rubbing his arms. “How about we turn on some heat?”

“I don’t turn on the heater unless I have to,” I said. “I have to watch my money.”

“Honey, it’s freezing,” Dad said. “Turn up the heat!” He whipped out his wallet and paid me to turn the heat on. For years, Dad and I retold that story. I missed his...well, his warmth.

Brrr. I shook off the cold, held a dustpan in place and swept up a dirt pile. A click echoed from the hallway. The thermostat? Within moments, the heat revved on.

I walked into the hall and eyed the thermostat. The black numbers stood out against the gray screen: Current temperature: 67 degrees. Heater’s hold setting: 70.

Huh? Someone would have had to press the button to change the temperature. But I was the only one home! It had to be some glitch.

I told James what happened when he got back from work.  “That sounds like just your father," James said. “Knowing him, I bet he won’t let you keep this place cold.”

I shot James a sidelong glance. Dad? The idea was too silly to entertain. We got ready for bed, and I lowered the thermostat to 66 again. We’d be plenty warm beneath the blankets.

Walking to the bedroom, I heard another click. I turned back to the thermostat. The setting temperature had moved once again—up to 70 degrees!

Now I was convinced. “I hear you, Dad,” I said, like he was right by my side. If he wanted to keep me warm on a difficult day like this, I’d let him.

Nearly five years have passed since that day, and the thermostat? Hasn’t had a glitch since.

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