“If a Job Needs Doing”

Prompt: 15 minutes: “If a job needs doing”. GO!

“If a Job Needs Doing”

If a job needs doing, I write it down on a list to either do myself when I’m feeling up to it, or to remember to delegate to my husband or Lisa those things I can. Iron the clothes, change the linens on the bed, water the plants — well, actually, I don’t delegate too well, come to think of it. I prefer to do the plant watering myself. Then I know it’s done “right.” Actually, I feel this way about a lot of things, and so this journey of chronic illness has been a challenge in “letting go.” Releasing. Releasing control. Expectations. Perfectionism.

I’ve learned to bite my tongue for the most part when someone else is doing the job I “should” be able to do myself, but can’t. Or shouldn’t, as I need to preserve my energy for other things.

I am reminded of my first husband’s grandmother all those years ago, confined to her wheelchair for the last decade or more of her life. I was in unfamiliar territory as the new girlfriend, then the bride, when we visited them on Lake Wiley. Paw Paw Lockwood did most everything while Grandmother Lockwood tried her best to hide her frustration as we helped get ready for a meal.

“Which plates did you want to use?”

Greg and I rifled through cabinets, drawers, getting all the things Grandmother wanted. Sometimes I watched her painstakingly do things herself, taking God knows how much longer to fold the paper napkins than for one of us able-bodied family members to do it ourselves.

I know the feeling of frustration, as I sit in my own kitchen now, watching Lisa cut up onions with the “wrong” knife. Clearly she’s just learning how to cook. Not that I’m an expert, but her husband has been the cook in her own family. Yet she goes about this job she’s paid to do with a smile on her face, hiding any uncertainty and doing the best she can to help with anything I ask. And so I sometimes bite my tongue, close my eyes, and silently think to myself, “Ginny, do not criticize! Be grateful someone else is helping you do what you can no longer do for yourself.” Other times I speak up, choosing my words and tone carefully.

“Girl, don’t you go hurting yourself with that knife!”

I get up and go to the knife drawer and pull out the one I use for onions, remarking to her, while I’m at it, that the one I saw her use “wrong” last week is a special tomato slicing knife, “isn’t that cool?”

Then there are husbands, bless their hearts. I’m guessing all wives know this scenario, even without illness as a factor. Just like I’d never attempt plumbing or trying to fix things with tools beyond the basics I know how to use – screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches every now and then, how can I expect him to know which dish he “should” use for storing the leftover soup? It seems logical to me to put it in Pyrex for easy reheating instead of dirtying up a plastic container which can’t go in the microwave tomorrow. But I keep my mouth shut, grateful that Michael’s helping clean up the kitchen after dinner when I’m feeling too lousy to hardly even eat.

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