We are driving back from spending the week in Illinois visiting Brian’s family that lives there (2 sisters and his father). It is hard for us to get away during the holidays as that is a very busy time for us, so we were celebrating Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years all in one week!
Before I left I felt as though I had to let certain clients know. My older clients often call me during the week and need something that day. I sat down with Mrs. C. (see previous post “Some background history of Mrs. C”: http://errandbiz.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/some-background-history-of-mrs-c/ ..) a week ahead of time and we wrote it on her calendar when I would be gone. The two times I saw her the week before I left I reminded her again. Of course, she called me on Monday morning to go shopping for her because she knew we were leaving that afternoon. After I dropped off her groceries and headed to the door she said, “I will miss you”. In all the years I’ve worked for her she has never said anything like that to me before. I said, “really?”. She replied, “Yes, you’ve become a necessary part of my life – I don’t want you to go”. She touched my heart! She said, “It’s not fair, I want you to be in town for me!” I assured her that I would be back before long. It wasn’t the first time I felt bad ‘leaving’ her, but it was the first time she ever indicated that she missed me when I was gone!
Knowing that we would be celebrating holidays I wanted to buy Christmas gifts to take with us. I hate paying shipping costs! Brian’s sisters are really easy to buy for – even though Brian didn’t think so before I came into his life. We had both sisters taken care of and wrapped before we left. The hard one is his dad! What do you buy for an 80 year old man that doesn’t NEED anything??? I have the same problems shopping for my own father. They have more clothes than they will ever wear again because they don’t go out any more. They don’t need more ‘stuff’ to collect dust as they already have more than they know what to do with. The slippers we bought last year haven’t been worn enough to warrant a new pair. Restaurant gift cards aren’t much fun when you’ve lost your life partner. Tools, pictures, dishes, towels, etc. No, they already have more than they need!
Brian’s dad is a big man (very tall, solid & with bad knees) who is set in his ways like most people his age. The one thing we’ve gotten him in the past that was the best idea was ‘stability arms’ that attach to the toilet. I’m not sure what they are called at the moment but it is like a walker placed backwards on the toilet to help you get up. He loves it and it is useful! I’m really into useful or necessary when it comes to giving. We’ve bought his dad some other ‘help’ gadgets over the years but this is the one he uses. The As Seen On TV foot scrubber that we gave him is still in the box on a shelf in the bathroom with another one identical to it. I guess someone else had that grand idea! I get catalogs that have lots of ‘help gadgets’ in them, I thought to bring the catalogs with me this year to look at them with him! Great idea!! We were looking through the catalogs and he didn’t seem to think the things I had in mind would be of use to him, although he had never seen catalogs like this before. I left the catalogs with him just in case he sees something he might need. : )
As we were coming back into his dad’s house after going out to eat, I noticed what trouble his dad had getting up the two small steps on his front porch. I asked him if he ever used his cane (I’ve seen a couple around the house in the past), he said it was in his car when he needed it. In his car doesn’t do him much good getting in and around the house! I asked him if having a railing to hold on to would help. He said he had thought that one might be good but hadn’t done it yet. That was it!!! We were going to put in a railing on his front steps for his Christmas present!!! Very useful and needed!! He thought it was a great idea too! Sometimes he balks at people doing things for him. He seemed much more willing to let us help him with projects around the house this time. It sounds like a good thing, but it really isn’t. It means his dad is getting older and less able to do things for himself. Both, Brian and I saw a definite decline in his physical being from last year. We really NEED to take the time off to go see him more often!!! Once a year is NOT ENOUGH!!! Plus he has a lot more chores around the house!
The railing……………. We went to Menards (home building store) to look and see what they had. I wish we had a Menards store where we live! I love that store! They had a very large selection, but since I am not the Engineer, like his dad, I didn’t take the two steps into consideration. I may not have the skills to build it, but I sure can ask for help. I asked a guy that worked there to help “us”. He and Brian exchanged a bunch of garble that I didn’t have a clue about, but it looked like there was one that would work! Yea! His dad looked at it and he liked it too! We bought it and headed home. You know how things always seem much simpler than they turn out to be? The store clerk made it sound so easy too! I guess we forgot to tell him we were putting it into concrete steps. After starting the project we find out there is rebar in the way on the steps. It seemed like it was one issue after another. While Brian worked on that project, his sisters followed my lead and we cleaned out the flower bed in the front that was overgrown. The railing didn’t get finished before dinner time, so we stopped for the day. Of course it rained all day the next day so we couldn’t do anything on the railing the whole day. That was Thursday. We were supposed to leave on Friday as both Brian and I had to work on Saturday. We got up early on Friday to get started so we could finish and leave. I had wanted to mow his yard, but couldn’t the day before because of the rain. While Brian worked on the railing again, I mowed the very tall, wet grass! YUCK! When I finished mowing, Brian was still having some issues – mostly with the drill. I became his ‘assistant’ and we finally finished the project. It was complete!!! Yea! I feel so much better knowing his dad has something strong to hold on to while getting in and out of his house. Such a relief! By now it was close to 3:00 in the afternoon (we had an 8 hour drive ahead of us) and we had hoped to leave that morning. You do what you have to do. So, we got on the road again………