At the end of my work day I have a “decompression” routine that I try to stay consistent with. I lay on my stomach on the couch, face forward with my head and feet elevated at each end like a backwards “C.” It stretches my spine just right and admittedly it sometimes turns into a 15-minute power nap. (“Sometimes?” my wife just interjected.) Either way, it is way too tempting a target for my 3-year-old granddaughter, Izzy, who weighs maybe 30 pounds soaking wet with a brick in her hand. When she is visiting and I assume that position, she dives on top of me, runs her hands through what’s left of my hair, and talks to me endlessly in my left ear. Last week she came up with this gem as she was petting my head. I could tell she was studying the landscape as her fingers were probing the bald spot in the center. “Papa?” she asked gently. “Hmmm,” I said. “Uh, how come your hair is ... uh ... thirsty?”
After I stopped laughing, I explained that all things eventually wear out; and my hair just happens to be the next victim.
How true that statement has been for me the last few years. I recall feeling so proud that I got a whole new roof only for the cost of the deductible due to insurable damages but evidently the karma I created by gloating lit the fuse for everything else.
Christmas Eve 2014 with a house full of 40 guests, my plumbing decided it wasn’t going to process any more deposits and everything began to back up. No amount of plunging or chemicals made this work. In short Christmas Day found my basement full of plumbers and there they would remain for 2 weeks until my entire sanitary system was dug up and replaced.
Ever try to get insurance to cooperate and loan companies to quote on Christmas Day? It was a complete holiday ruination to be sure but hey--the house is about 100 years old and things eventually wear out, right?
Right. Because two weeks later, every pipe that hadn’t been replaced in round one was backing up for round 2. My whole kitchen ceiling had to be ripped out to replace these pipes.
It was around that time my wife’s car stabilizer arms and suspension system needed an overhaul from an earlier accident that had never been detected. The car was not drivable.
When I walked in to the kitchen after bringing her newly repaired car home, I watched a puddle growing from beneath the dishwasher. The unit was shot.
The following morning, and I am not kidding, the clothes washing machine gave up the ghost as well; water everywhere. “Is this a joke?” my wife asked. We decided to buy a used unit from this place down the street. We got in my truck and I had a dead battery. I put my head on the wheel and recall just feeling completely defeated.
A week later when new-but-used appliances had been procured, I awoke to another puddle in the kitchen. The shower was leaking and the newly repaired ceiling had a huge wet spot that was now leeching a puddle of plaster and water onto the kitchen floor. Yes, the work was covered by warranty and fully replaced but here we go again; more workers in the house for days. “Shut off the water, turn it on, wait, wait shut it off again, OK turn it on.”
Well anyway the first half of 2015 never got much better. It was like everything that could go wrong certainly did. Both minor and major tangible failures continued to occur. In the midst of all of this, I began a new adventure producing my first kidney stone. Weeks after I went through that surgery, my wife came up with a case of walking pneumonia.
The theme of “failures” and “wearing out” was about to find its next victim. It was me. I was completely worn out, spent and exhausted. Friends were nice about it; patting me on the back, smiling tightly and nodding but you could see in their eyes they were thinking, “I’m sorry Ronnie, but I’m sure glad it’s not me.”
So the one thing I have done throughout my life is when I can’t look any further down, I look up. I went to church. I hit my knees and I didn’t ask why and I didn’t ask for the “curse” to stop, I didn’t even whine about thinking I deserved a break. I simply prayed for the people that had it worse than me. Because if I had to weather all this challenge to my spirit and hope, what in the world would those who had these problems do who had less than me to begin with?
Yes, I had to take out loans to cover all the damage and problems but at least I had good credit and could make that happen. Yes, I needed to replace a bunch of appliances in my house but at least I had a truck to haul them, the strength to wrestle the old ones out and put the new ones in place as well as the smarts to set them up.
Weeks passed and nothing blew up or fell apart for awhile. I didn’t think it was a miracle; I simply thought I’d been given the humility to cope better and be grateful and more than anything understand; because things will break again and things will wear out.
But yesterday my wife’s headlight burned out and when I went to replace it I found it in such a difficult area to reach that I’m going to have to put some time aside to detach some things under the hood to access that darn bulb, but it is what it is. Things break down, wear out, fail--that’s never going to change. In the grind of life, these little annoyances will never disappear.
Last evening we noticed the room seemed a little warmer than usual and when I went down the basement to check the furnace I found the first-floor thermostat was failing and probably needs replacement. I have no idea what this repair may cost, but I know it is beyond my control. A man will arrive later today and tell me things that I know nothing about and when he is done I will pay him and that’s because we need to heat our house so I have to have him fix what’s broke. See, it never really gets to a place where everything is done, put away, or finished. It simply moves aside for the next thing. I wonder what that will be.