A while back Terry and I were at Lowe’s in Port Orange, Florida, and as I was opening the door of our Pacifica for Terry, I noticed an elderly lady with a flatbed cart with a case of bottled water parked near us. So once Terry was in the van, I walked over to ask if she needed some help.
She certainly did, because the struts that should hold the trunk of her car open were shot and every time she tried to open it, it fell closed again. I opened it for her and saw a piece of wood with a notch in one end that had obviously been used as a prop to hold the trunk lid open. I put it in place and then loaded the water in for her. Before I closed the trunk, I showed her how to use the prop when she got back home to avoid the trunk lid coming down and hurting her. She thanked me. Then she said something that I cannot forget.
“My husband died six months ago, and I never realized how many little things he did that I just took for granted. Not that I ever took him for granted, he was a wonderful man and we had over 50 years together. But there are so many little things that I’ve had to learn to do for myself or learn that I can’t do at all. Like putting things in the trunk of the car, or lifting a case of water, or rolling the trash can out to the curb on trash day. So many little things that really are big things when it comes down to it.”
I wished that sweet lady a good day, and Terry and I went on about our business. But I keep remembering what she said. When my dad died, I remember my mom saying that while she was glad he was finally out of pain, she missed sitting across the table from him at breakfast and missed the smell of coffee. Mom never drank coffee, but part of their daily routine was her brewing coffee for him in the morning. You wouldn’t think somebody would miss that, but she did.
I think about our life together and all of the things that Terry does for me that I just take for granted. I have an appointment with a new doctor on Monday, and he needed a list of all of my medications. It sounds stupid, but I don’t have any idea what I take and how much of it I take daily. She hands me pills and I swallow them and never really think about it. I love it when she makes French toast for me for breakfast, but I have no idea how to do it for myself, even though I was a bachelor and a single father. And all those settings on the washing machine? You might as well put me in the cockpit of a passenger airliner and tell me to figure out how to fly it.
When we were fulltime RVers presenting seminars at RV rallies and events, I used to tell people that even though most RVers have what they call blue jobs that the guys do and pink jobs that the women do, they both really need to know how to do whatever needs to be done inside or outside the RV. I was usually the one that hooked up the utilities and emptied and flushed the holding tanks, and hooked up the tow bar to our Ford Explorer, but Terry could do all of it. Just like she could drive the RV, which she did whenever we came to a high bridge that I was afraid of. Those may seem like little things, but they aren’t. We always preached to women that they needed to know how to drive the rig. Maybe not across the country, but at least enough to get off the road and to a safe place if an emergency came up.
Terry worked in a bank years ago, and she said it was quite common for older gentlemen who had lost their wives to come in because they had absolutely no idea how to balance a checkbook or how much money they had in their account. It was one of those little things that their wives always handled.
Never forget the little things. Not just the little chores that your partner does for you, but all those other little things that mean so much. Opening a door, holding your hand, that gentle caress or pat on the shoulder that tells you that all is right with the world. Or that hug when you need it because maybe right at that moment, everything is not alright with the world. Be aware of those little things and cherish the people who give them to you.
Thought For The Day – It is not the length of life, but the depth – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nick, this very much ties into the seminar message I delivered at the Escapees Escapade in Rock Springs, WY last month. It was called “DO YOU HAVE A PLAN?” and focused on sharing “communications” about the many topics you mentioned in today’s blog. After I made the presentation, lots of folks asked for copies of my slides and handouts so I made a YouTube 54-minute video with my narration and an offer to send folks .pdf files of the handouts. If you don’t mind, here is the link: https://youtu.be/GHmZ7O88zZY
Yes indeed… I’m a recent widow and read your blog because once Medicare eligibility comes in 2 more years, I’m planning to go on the road, solo. The manufactured home we bought 2 years ago now is home to too many sad memories.
A sympathetic friend said evenings must be rough for me, but it’s actually mornings. My husband was such a creature of habit, mornings followed an ironclad routine, from the way he greeted me (“Boo!”) to the way he got started making coffee (banging the plastic filter against the inside of the kitchen wastebasket). When his health failed, I took over that task, but the coffee never tasted as good as when he made it.
He also had the patience to sweep, inside and out, every day, whether or not it was needed. I only give in when I have to kick pinecones out from underfoot on our walkway, or when cat litter is threatening to become a sand dune.
I know he would have had a much rougher time with bills and things if I’d gone first, but over nearly 24 years, he became my rock. Never take anything or anyone for granted.
2 months today for me. George made the coffee, I now use a kerig.
Cherish every moment because you never know when you can suddenly be by yourself
Your words are so true Nick. I watched my Mom after my Dad died. She really never had to try too hard. My husband & I were always ar her beck & call. My husband spoils me, but I know how to operate everthing on our 5th wheel. I also drive, back up & maintain everything with him. We have been fulltimimg now for 15 years. We are on our 2nd RV and still loving this lifestyle. You & Miss Terry would be proud of us
Wonderful reminders for us all, thanks.
As I read today’s blog I am sitting here crying my eyes out. You are so right! 11 months ago tomorrow I lost my husband of 24 years. We had a good marriage. Maybe not one made in Heaven but it was a lot more good than bad. But like every couple we had some rocky patches too. Our last day together was one of the rocky ones and we got into an argument. As he left for work he said he hoped I’d be in a better mood when he got home and I told him to go to hell. Three hours later he collapsed of a massive heart attack and was dead before he hit the floor. I feel so guilty that those were my last words to him. And the thing that gets me is that for the life of me I can’t even remember what the damn argument was even about!
The best article you have published and I have been reading yours about 10 years and many of the older ones.
As we said in 1968 – RIGHT ON !
As I write this my husband of 38 years is sleeping in his hospital bed.
These past few weeks have been a wake-up call for me. I really need to learn those tasks that I so took for granted previously. At 76, I’m proud that in the last 3 weeks I’ve now learned how to put fuel in the car, with his remote help I can now watch tv in the bedroom and best of all I figured how to use the thermostat so I can regulate the level of coolness.
I know that he will recover and come home, but for sure, I’m going to learn how to expand my repertoire.
Great article Nick.
I have followed you for years — ever since we did that rally in Lake City, FL years ago — and while I tend to skip over the various reminiscences which I remember, I am always delighted by your current works, but none as much as today’s “The Little Things.”.
May I have your permission to post this article in the IBE News Facebook page? This site has become a popular extension of http://www.imperialbonitaestates,com, and I would post this pertinent work for our 55 & older community with all credit given to you each day. If you visit the site given above you will see that
Help yourself, Fred