Widow Journal Part II: Knowing when to ask for help

My almost-completed deck staining/sealing project. Sloppy for a beginner but at least it's good enough.

My almost-completed deck staining/sealing project. Sloppy for a beginner but at least it’s good enough.

The Bible readings at church this morning spoke of widows and orphans. I can now sympathize with the widows of the Old and New Testament, even though I resist that identification. They were considered the most helpless individuals throughout history, with good reason.

But fast forward to the 21st century, and at least widows are no longer deemed helpless. As a stubborn female who has always prided herself on being able to use power tools and do chores on her own, I have entered this new chapter of life without a mate determined to tackle some of the more male-oriented tasks that my late husband had to put on the back burner due to ill health.

With just a tiny bit of trepidation, I tackled the staining and sealing of our deck and patio (learning through mistakes and sloppiness). I went to Sears and bought a new self-propelled lawn mower when I became fearful that the rider in the shed was going to tip over in our steep yard. Like an idiot, I mowed both the front and back yards in one afternoon, trying to keep up with the self-propulsion that went a little too fast for my tastes and arthritic knees.

I even put both my dogs on the grooming bench yesterday and trimmed their muzzles and the fur on their feet, just like I’d watched my husband do so many times before.

But by golly, a simple little 48 inch fluorescent light tube nearly did me in. I’ve replaced those suckers before without too much cursing. Today nothing worked. Add to that the fact that my old washer finally gave out and leaked all over the basement. I’m not strong enough to move it out of the way and my newer one into place.

Finally admitting I could qualify as a helpless widow, I called my brother-in-law to ask for help from my nephews, knowing my son would not appreciate driving 45 minutes one way to put a light tube in a stupid socket.

See, that’s the thing. We are called to be humble, and widowhood will put you there fast. Widows, widowers and others on their own need to learn the power of discernment. We have to overcome our embarrassment and fears of being a burden on others and admit we need the help occasionally. We also should realize that most folks welcome the opportunity to be helpful to widows and orphans; they just might need to be asked.

So, when my basement family room is once again illuminated, when my standby washer is maneuvered into place by my much stronger and more capable nephews, I will go back to doing my normal widow things. These things include, but are not limited to the following:

–Marking time by how many weeks have passed since the funeral and doing a self-assessment of mental progress and spiritual growth.

–Marking the time also by mundane things like trash days and daily to-do lists.

–Staying insanely busy to keep from being overwhelmed by emotional pain and self-pity; just letting those things descend on nights and Sunday evenings, and then only just a little.

–Learning the full meaning of the term “third wheel” and of cruel sayings like, “It’s a couples’ world.”

–Thanking God and the entertainment industry for Netflix while wondering what to watch once I’m finished with 130 episodes of “The Medium.”

Comfort food and lots of it could prove to be less than healthy.

Comfort food and lots of it could prove to be less than healthy.

–Realizing with a pang of guilt that keeping grief at bay by eating my way through Great Harvest Bakery’s offerings and those little Ben and Jerry’s ice cream cups might not be the healthiest thing to do.

–Slapping my hand off the iPad before ordering yet another item on the Internet that I probably don’t really need, knowing my late husband would probably come back to life to chastise me for it if he could.

–Noticing with disgust that the air conditioner hose is clogged and leaking all over the basement floor, then wondering if I am up to getting the compressor from the garage to the basement and then figuring out how to unhook said hose. Maybe this is a nephew call.

–Realizing that calling for help too often would quickly wear out my welcome. I have a friend whose widowed mother could not understand why her grandsons would not be able to come and mow her yard once a week, driving 150 miles one way to do so, even though she promised to pay them $10.