You know my last post about those little things that matter? Like carving into tennis balls as tough as cowhide, for your mother’s walker?
Well, there are those big things that matter too.
Big (f—–g!) things that seem little at first.
Like simply turning on a hot water faucet – In my mother’s guest bath where I was making sure the old claw-foot tub was in working order for the aide we’d hired, for the week we would be on a Disney Cruise. A vacation, planned a good year in advance of my mother’s fall, that seemed surreal and distant as I also realized that the drain plug was missing.
I’m not sure what was more odd: preparing for a guest that was coming to take care of my mother, a woman who has spent her entire adulthood having herself to take care of others. Or preparing for a complete stranger, one I’d only spoken to briefly about my mother’s medications.
I’d already tidied up the guestroom. Of course, this was not a paying guest, as if I were operating some B&B, but I even considered leaving a vase of flowers on the bureau. A sprig of lavender on her pillow! (I would actually make for a terrible B&B host; I’d leave out a box of Cheerios with a scrawled note: “Welcome, and help yourself to the fridge.”)
The only thing I wound up leaving this aide was a scrawled note on her pillow about contact phone numbers, and that my mother liked her breakfast eggs soft boiled.
Oh, and a bell; actually, a bell for my mother, at the suggestion of the agency. I wound up with (along with a new drain plug!) a large cowbell (didn’t know I’d be speaking so much of cows), the only kind of bells sold at our local Ace hardware store. As if we have cows roaming our suburban soccer fields.
Back to the claw-foot bathtub: clearly it wasn’t in working order. It doesn’t take much these days to push my panic buttons. Usually it is the phone ringing now, any time day or night. Now it is a claw-foot bathtub faucet that doesn’t produce hot water.
Down to the basement. Where spiders had been terribly busy churning out the most complicated of webs, dense enough to swim through doing the breaststroke.
Peeling a web-mask off my face so I could actually look up at the pipes, I located the hot water valve – that, evidently, someone, some time long ago, when that guest bath was still in use, had turned off.
And with good reason; I turned it on, and hot water spurted from the pipes.
I turned the valve off.
Now I was a sodden cobweb mess. And standing in the middle of a cobwebby bigger mess, as I noticed another leaking pipe. This one from the oil burner, draining water in a little rusty stream across the stone basement floor of this house built back in 1909.
Ok. Now this big problem had mutated into one that mattered as hugely as those little ones I’ve written about; as this aide was due to arrive within the week, and my mother did not have a plumber.
But there are big blessings, as well as those little blessings like the one I mentioned about finding a universal tray to fit all walkers.
This big blessing is that the same furnace man who came to fix the leaking oil burner was also a plumber! He fixed the hot water pipes too! All in one day! Before this stranger arrived at my mother’s house to answer to her rings of a cowbell!
Really. Seriously. I do count our blessings, big and little, every single day. Even now has we have finally embarked on our cruise – straight into the storm that has been raging along the east coast. Stay tuned for my next post, about our first night aboard a ginormous cruise ship that rocked all night like a some little dinky old rowboat….
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