Monday, August 22, 2011

Things I've Learned To Do

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
So many meanings to me...I can endure...I can handle....I can hold on....I can make decisions....I can do what needs to be done.

I must thank my parents, Roark and Alyce, for helping me become independent from early on. They taught me to think and question and not to accept everything just because someone said it. I remember asking questions about what I had heard from our preacher at a church service, and my dad told me that the preacher was a man like any other man, and I shouldn't believe things just because I heard them from a pulpit - I should study the Bible on my own and find the truth in scripture.

When I was fourteen and my brother was eleven, my sister was born. Mom stayed home with Leslie for a few years, and then she went back to work. I remember we had a family meeting, and my dad said that since Mom would be working later hours, we had to help out more around the house. My job was to plan and cook supper each night during the week, and my brother was to clean the kitchen. They trusted me to take care of dinner for our family of five, and I did it. About a year later, I started driving, and Dad taught me how to put gasoline in the car. When they bought my first car, a 1961 Chevy Impala, my dad showed me how to check the oil and how to change a flat tire. In case of emergency, he wanted me to know how to take care of myself.

I never thought of myself as a total feminist, but I do believe women can do a lot of what men can do. I love when I have my oil changed and a woman is the one who is changing it. I like seeing women police officers and fire fighters. Even though I believe independence is a choice, I didn't want to take on everything, and I liked that Billy took care of many things related to home and car maintenance. He did most of the yard work, but I didn't mind mowing when he wasn't around to do it. One summer he was in Washington, DC for five weeks, and I kept the yard mowed, trimmed, and managed to make small repairs.

As the Alzheimer's Disease progresses, Billy's ability to complete tasks is compromised. He wants to help, and I try to include him in certain chores, but it often becomes so frustrating to him and to me, that I just take over. With the incredible heat this summer, we are trying to keep one planter alive. It needs water daily, and Billy volunteers to water it. The water hose is stored on a reel on the side of the house. The faucet has a splitter on it, so you can hook up two hoses at once, but we have just one hose connected to it. One day when Billy was going to water the plants, I wondered what was taking him so long. When I went to check on him, he was hooking up the free end of the hose onto the other faucet and turning them on. Surprisingly, the hose didn't burst, but he needed help.

There was a time when I would wait for Billy to fix something. He could handle most anything, but in the last few years, he can do less and less. He's always changed the bulbs in the headlights or tail lights of the car because he had a strong aversion to spending money on something he could do. Now, I've learned to change the bulbs, and I carry extras in my car. He also took care of cleaning out the bath tub drains when they started slowing down. Now, I do that with my handy dandy Zip It tool. It's gross, but nobody else is going to take care of it.

I've cleaned off the cable connections of my car battery, pulled the battery out when it still didn't work, and nearly dropped it because I was not prepared for heavy it was. I took it to O'Reilly's where we've bought our last several batteries, and I was thrilled to get an adjustment on it. I get the oil changed regularly, and I get the tires rotated. One thing I have not mastered is changing a windshield wiper, but I can buy it and get help.

I've learned to do things, and I've learned to ask for help when I don't know how to do something. I depend a great deal on family, and I am so grateful for them. My sister and brother-in-law live about 5 minutes from us. Shawn is the family resource on anything to do with technology. Actually, Shawn can fix almost anything, and if he needs help, he calls my cousin, Travis. The two of them together have just about any tool known to man, and neither of them are afraid to tackle a household repair. My daughter and son-in-law live nearby also, and they are a wonderful help with Billy. My Uncle Bob is great about providing his pick-up truck if I make a purchase that doesn't fit in my car. My sister-in-law and nephews live very close by and are just a phone call away. We are blessed by family and friends.

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