Early winter woes indeed … the story continues where I left off from the snow storm last Thursday. Honestly (spoiler alert), none of what happened was earth-shaking in itself. This is mostly a cautionary tale of how wrong things can go when you procrastinate.
It also brought home to me very strongly that the older we get, the more vulnerable we can become – and the more important it is that we plan ahead.
I watched from the house as my husband struggled, with a crowbar, shovel and pots of boiling water, to wrestle the corner of the snow plow from the frozen ground.
It was past noon by this time, since the morning had been taken up with a trip to the tire shop to get our studded tires mounted. Of course, Jerry had first needed to shovel out the opening for the big barn door and then manhandle the four big truck tires into the bed of the truck.
Jer’s TBI thirteen years ago left him with a deep, driving need to prove he is still the capable man he was before his accident, and is determined not to accept help if he can avoid it. He especially doesn’t want a helping hand from me.
It hurts my heart, but I understand the conflict inside him and try to be supportive. My transition from being his wife and helpmate to his caregiver, then slowly back to being his wife (with some caregiving and guidance inevitably mixed in …) has been an ongoing, often challenging process for both of us.
This balancing act has only gotten more complicated as we’ve aged, since at 70+, we both need help a lot more than either of us did even just five years ago. Jerry has no problem helping me when I need it. He just won’t let me help him.
Anyway, an hour passed, and he eventually came inside, cold but [temporarily] triumphant. The plow was free from the frozen ground. Yay!
I convinced him to rest and warm up before heading back outside for the final step of actually connecting the plow to the truck. He assured me this would take no time at all and he’d be able to clear at least the main driveway before it got dark. Such optimism. It was, of course, still snowing.
As I alternated doing loads of laundry with sitting by the window and knitting, I watched him pull the truck up to the plow. Then I watched him walk back and forth from plow to truck cab – again and again. He’d kneel in the snow, mess with something, then move the truck a little. Repeat. Obviously, something was not going according to plan.
My anxiety level continued to rise as temperatures dropped and snow fell. Single digits were expected overnight. I hate feeling helpless.
The war with the plow continued well into the afternoon, with Jer slipping and sliding in ever deepening snow and fading light. I’m pretty sure this was when he fell and bruised a rib.
Jer finally made his way back through the snow to the house just before 4:30 pm, exhausted and defeated. The plow stubbornly maintained it’s independence from the truck, which meant no no snow removal for us.
I felt so bad for him. I know how hard he worked out there today. How badly he wanted to be successful.
On the other hand, I could not help but feel frustrated and yes, angry as well as stressed. The last thing Jer needed was a lecture, so I kept my thoughts to myself, but geez – if only he had done all of this weeks ago in warmer weather and on dry ground!
Once Jerry was out of his wet, half-frozen outerwear and had slumped onto his recliner, I sat down across from him. I didn’t want to wrest control from him, but something had to be done. I chose my words carefully, trying to use “we” whenever possible instead of “you”.
I told him firmly, but with as much compassion as I could muster, “Jer, you’ve done your best, but at this point, we need help. The driveway has to be cleared. It can’t wait any longer or we are going to be snowed in. Please get on the phone and make some calls. Do it now, before businesses close for the day.”
I mentioned possibilities; plow companies, friends, handyman businesses, our church, etc., but I didn’t tell him what to do. I went back upstairs, fingers crossed, and left it in his hands. 🙏
While Jerry figured out what to do next and made some calls (have you ever tried finding a plow service in the midst of a snowstorm?), I arranged for a back-up plan, hoping it wouldn’t be needed.
Twenty minutes later, Jerry told me he’d called a plow company and they’d be here first thing in the morning. He was pretty proud of himself and I didn’t blame him.
For the rather miraculous conclusion of this snowy tale, tune in tomorrow. Until then, keep smiling!
One thought on “Early Winter Woes”
Oh dear. The struggle between pride and acceptance. Diminishing capabilities leave us vulnerable and dependent which is frankly scary. It’s so hard to have the grace to allow others to help us. Especially hard for those who have always BEEN the helpers. My heart goes out to both of you.
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