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