Maintenance Work

Thursday, April 28, 2011

“Staying out ahead” is the phrase of the week.

My hands have raw, broken blisters from hand- raking and de-mossing the lawn during the last few days. (They remind me of my youthful gymnast days after uneven parallel bar workouts!) Our Northwest extra wet winter along with two years of neglect left me a problem lawn. Last year and the end of the previous year, I left the yard to dry out (brown lawns are known as “just sleeping” around here) to save water, money and maintenance. Now, patches of dirt and thatch dot the lawn. Last year I envisioned and was given a bid to tear out the front half of the lawn for a low maintenance rock and heather landscape. That would solve the problems associated with the required drainage culvert. That would give us a unique appearance in the row of our neighborhood development houses.

Now that Dave is ill, I haven’t pursued this route because of time, money, and I’m feeling like a short timer here in this home. I am surprised that I have this viewpoint of our home: a short-timer. Maybe it’s because I was already considering a five year plan that when Dave retired we’d downsize. Perhaps I am trying to desensitize myself to the future. Maybe it just won’t be the same without him here and I don’t want to think about that. I’ll fly the coop. Or maybe I won’t be able to tear myself away.

The fence is falling. The garage is full of things in storage. New grass seed is strewn. Now I’ll have to water all summer. The guy who aerated and over-seeded the yard yesterday reminded me to water this weekend when the sun is predicted to shine. Hard to think we’d need water when the rain has been steady once again. I wondered if really “an inch a week” of water is enough, especially on the southern exposed front lawn. Seems I run the sprinklers far more than the rule. He said that once the lawn dries out, it is almost impossible to catch up. “Ah, stay out ahead for watering,” I said. “Exactly,” he replied, “You get that. Most people don’t understand.”

Stay out ahead of the pain is Dave’s motto now. Don’t chase it, he was told. That takes so much more energy. Maintenance. Stay out ahead. Pre-emptive, proactive. He has been more alert these last few days. The every six hours regiment of pain medication is now on maintenance mode doing its work, keeping him comfortable. He has broken through the initial sleepiness of a new routine.

Stay out ahead of the grief is my motto now. Don’t chase it. Let it be. Listen to its voice. It takes so much more energy to fight it. Exercise, eat right and take care of yourself. Write. Accept help. Even I have come to be in a maintenance mode for this moment.

I have to stop my yard work to let my hands heal. The calluses will toughen, harden. They will protect me during future work. And if I stay out ahead there will be less irritation and they will soften again.

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