Be Prepared

I was only a Girl Scout for a short period of time. Actually, I don’t think I even made it to Girl Scout but was just a Brownie. When I discovered my leader was drinking at the meetings, I told a teacher at my school and voila! No more meetings!

Since I didn’t have a lot of training being prepared for anything, I’m not the best at it, but I do try. I always have a first aid kit in my car (even though the only thing I can do with it is put a band aid on someone), typically a spare tire, and always my AAA card. After my child was born, the diaper bag was filled with almost too many things and I could never find what I needed when I needed it. My current purse, though, has a lovely little bag in it with nearly everything I think I need–ibuprofren, chapstick, pads, band-aids, lotion, hand sanitizer, even a tiny stick of deodorant. I always have my phone, a smidge of cash, hopefully a debit or credit card, and again, always my AAA card. So I think I’ve gotten a little better over the years in trying to be prepared.

Back in 2004, after my husband and I bought our home, my mother said to me, “You need to learn how everything works in the house. If anything happens to your Wally, you don’t want to be left not knowing.” I know she said this to me because that’s what happened to her. When my stepfather died in 2002, there were a few things in her house she didn’t quite know how to maintain or fix, and a snow blower she couldn’t move. I agreed with Mom and told her I would learn it all. Fast forward 17 years, and here’s Holly, not knowing much of anything.

Since my husband has been on death’s door twice in 18 months, and will undergo a heart procedure next week, I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer. (FYI: He’ll go into the Cath Lab where they’ll investigate his blocked arteries and either put more stents in or schedule bypass surgery.) I told Wal I wasn’t trying to be morbid, but I needed to be prepared. He’s been reluctant to show me some things over the years, but mostly I have been the one who has been resistant because I just didn’t care to know. Our household chores have been divided in mostly traditional male/female roles–I do much of the housework, he does much of the outside work and fixes anything that needs to be fixed, and we both share cooking. But so often I’ve felt very overworked and always seem to spend my weekends doing housework yet my husband spends about 2 hours doing stuff and he’s done. WTF?!? So I didn’t care to know shit because why should I when I did most everything anyway?

But for the past 6 weeks, my husband hasn’t been able to do much of anything, so everything IS up to me. Thankfully our son has mown the lawn all summer, but he doesn’t know how to use the trimmer or the push mower and I couldn’t friggin’ start either one last weekend. So yesterday, I asked my husband for help. We got things going, I know what I did wrong on the mower and can easily fix that, but the damn trimmer is a pain in the ass. Either I’m not coordinated or strong enough to start it. Thankfully the old man started it for me and I was able to trim the yard. (Next time the kid will have to start it, or we’ll be buying a trimmer where I don’t need to pull a cord to start it.)

Today, though, I dug out a notebook and wrote down everything I wasn’t sure how to start or fix or maintain that’s in or around the house. I wrote down the things I did know and confirmed them with Wal. I actually had the boy show me how to start the riding lawn mower. I had refused to learn after my husband spent nearly $9,000 to buy the damn thing, but I guess I still need to know how to run it, eh? With everything else, I had Wal take me around and explain how certain pieces of equipment work or how to fix them or who to call if I can’t do anything. I double-checked with him on the location of our septic tank and leach field, just to make certain that what I thought I knew I really knew, you know? I wrote everything down with step by step instructions for some and general notes on others. I felt a little relief once I had finished…or at least not quite so panicked. There are still a few tools that I honestly don’t know how to use and want to, like the power drill.

I know, I know! My friend, Aymie, is this kick-ass woman who knows her power tools (and uses them!) and has been building a bunkhouse in the woods this summer. She can do all of that shit and I have no idea how to use the electric screwdriver. (I wish I was kidding about that last part. But I’m not.)

Tonight, as we’re searching the house trying to find my husband’s living will (to no avail), my anxiety is starting to grow. I haven’t been hugely concerned about Wal’s procedure, but maybe I was more worried than I thought. I have another living will form that Wal can fill out and have notarized this week, but it’s not something either one of us really want to do right now. If you haven’t done one yet, it can be an emotionally exhausting task, especially when you’re sick and someone may need to put it into action. What you write down really matters. Knowing what you want and having others know it, too, is crucial. (We learned this last year.)

Here’s hoping the hospital still has a copy of Wal’s living will that I gave them last year or that my husband will find his copy somewhere in the disaster he calls his office. 😉 Otherwise we have an interesting evening coming up, where he’ll sigh a lot and I’ll drink a glass of wine. One way or another, we’re going to be prepared.

Wish us luck, friends.

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