Monday, June 3, 2013


Strange days around here.

Steve, the ultimate do-it-yourselfer, has been hampered by an unexpected injury. He fell off his bike on Friday morning, a freak accident after a long and successful early morning ride. Dislocated shoulder, with the possibility of injury to the rotator cuff; we'll know more after his MRI. The poor guy has been in a lot of discomfort, and the most uncomfortable part has been that he needs, and has to accept, help accomplishing various basic daily tasks. He must endure his wife tying his shoes and buttoning his shirts for him. He couldn't drive Sher and Yaj to their church gigs on Sunday, oh horrors! (Amazingly, I am quite capable of operating a motor vehicle, and took over chauffeur duty with no problems.)  Tomorrow's after-school drama club performance programs will be put together and folded by the family tonight and--you know what?--I think we can handle it. As he impatiently waits for healing, we try to reassure him that we can hold the fort until he is 100% again.

Steve pre-spill (and he was wearing his helmet riding)
 But even as I tsk-tsk about his stubborn independence and intense dislike of asking for aid, I realize it is a huge issue with me, too. I remember breaking my arm back in 1982, and having to ask Steve to wash my hair. Hated every minute of it. Late pregnancy was always a trial, because towards the end I couldn't easily carry laundry baskets upstairs alone, and needed to (gasp) request assistance.

In many ways we have not progressed far beyond the toddler "me do it MYSELF!" phase. Perfectionism is part of it (after all, nobody does it better than us, right?). So is a teensy bit of control freakiness. I think a major factor is our desire not to bother other people, who have busy lives of their own and don't need to be pitching in with ours.

As a result, we do most everything solo--even the things we don't exactly do well, even the things that we waste time, energy and money doing that others could knock out in a trice. I look at my chaotic closets and drawers, and church files at the office, and it crosses my mind that a born organizer could HELP me. Nah. Better to shove everything closed and pray no one comes in to look at my "system."

Growing older, I realize that someday I will be physically and mentally unable to do all that I can do today. I remember my Grandma Berrigan hanging onto her car keys well into her late 80s (even after she drove onto a neighbor's lawn, mistaking it for her driveway), and realize I'm a chip off a willful Irish block. Steve's German forbears were no slouches in the pigheadedness department, so we are quite the pair.

Inevitably, there will come a time when we won’t be going it alone anymore. Maybe we’d better practice letting go. Maybe we both need to stop thinking of “help” as a four-letter word.

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