“I’m thankful if it hurts. That way I know it must still be there.” This is something that the mother of one of my good friends is fond of saying. Maybe I’m a wimp, but I just can’t imagine adopting that saying as a reflection of my own personal philosophy of pain. “I’m thankful if it doesn’t hurt and I can just forget about it.” is more like it.
My husband Rolly and I are in the renovation years of our lives. On second thought, the word “renovation” might only imply simple things —like changing the configuration of certain areas, or buying paint and a new rug. I get the feeling we’re way past the time for that now. There is more of a need for a little structural engineering at this point. And besides, no matter how thin it is on top, Rolly would be the last to purchase a rug. And paint? Well let’s just say I never fell for that “Apply a base coat of yellow first to brighten the area up before you put on the top coat.” advice.
Mary Kay…She was likely quite a sweetie but she obviously had way too much time on her hands! Since when is it a good idea to tell a busy mom to put yellow makeup over the dark circles under her eyes and then later apply the skin coloured foundation makeup over top? Didn’t she realize how often the doorbell would ring and a courier would refuse to hand over his pen to someone looking like a victim of Yellow Fever? Obviously her kids never had cry baby friends who would wail like fire engine sirens if ever they got hurt. I’m sure if anyone ever got stung by a bee in her yard they wouldn’t have to be taken home “RIGHT NOW!” just because they might be allergic. “Old Yeller” is not a very flattering nickname under any circumstance; “Big Red” would have been preferable, but the Mary Kay lipstick I was wearing at the time wasn’t red, it was a demure shade of pink.
Oh, did I not mention earlier that the renovation years I was referring to for Rolly and I were personal renovation years? And the structural engineering requirements are along the same bent—personal. Speaking of bent…that’s unfortunately the temporary state of my back just now. Maybe if I just apply a little heat and moisture I should get it to curve back in the other direction again. Apparently that’s how they shaped all the curves in those solid good old-fashioned church pews that curve around gently for a full twenty feet or more. I suppose it was so that the ladies on both ends of the pew could check out the hats of the ladies on the opposite side discretely, without cranking their necks. Those ancient craftsmen thought of everything!
But I digress. What does a church pew have to do with Rolly and I needing some “structural engineering”? Apparently something, I suppose, judging by the difficulty that Rolly was having at our neighbourhood Baptist church during their community Christmas Eve service. We usually alternate the hosting of services on special holidays between “the Baptists“ and “the Christians”. The Poplar Hill Baptists are not overly pleased when anyone from the Poplar Hill Christian Church smirkingly uses those one word titles for their members and our members side by side in a sentence. Perhaps it seems to hint at some sort of exclusivity, but such is not the intention. But then, who’s to know what competitive spirit ran through the minds of our church’s Scottish forefathers in naming it so?
The service was a beautiful combination of a very short reading from the nativity story, followed by the congregation singing the first verse of a related Christmas carol; then this format was repeated throughout the one hour service, perhaps twenty times. Each repetition was accompanied by a change from a seated to a standing position. Even the Catholic church which I attended as a child had never required that much bending of the knees. Rolly was in real pain throughout, due to severe tears in both of his meniscus which had happened in early November.
So two weeks ago it was finally time for the first of his “structural engineering.” The left knee had part of the meniscus removed— simply to relieve the pain, but the tears are not repairable due to their depth. The surgeon says that Rolly will definitely have to have knee replacements when pain becomes an issue due to the advanced state of osteoarthritis. I suppose that just like in old houses, the parts that get used most get worn out most quickly.
The three acres of perennial gardens around our property are a gift that my husband has given to me over our nearly forty-five years of marriage. Although our house has only stood here for 37 of those years, bushels of Darwin tulip bulbs were moved here from an earlier garden as soon as we completed the house. Many of the ever-growing collection of perennials could only be weeded on hands and knees, including 120 different iris varieties which Rolly collected and multiplied over the years.
This dear man’s knees also took the brunt of 30 years of walking both forward and backward on concrete floors, as a relief man on the assembly line at the Ford assembly plant in Talbotville, Ontario. On top of that he roofed dozens of houses for friends and family, as well as a number in exchange for such things as a week in a cottage, a piano for the kids, and other rewards all of us enjoyed. I hope he realizes how much all that he has done has meant to everyone. As he looks ahead toward what will definitely be some complicated “structural engineering” we are both thankful that there are talented surgeons who are able to do such things and who will be there for him when the time comes.
And as for me, well what do you suppose would need some work for someone who has spent most of her life in hands-on pursuits? You guessed it. It’s the hands. As a daycare provider, as a professional baker, as a professional cleaner, and now as a nanny- housekeeper— everything I have done career wise has involved using my hands. Add to that my lifelong pursuit of writing and it shouldn’t be especially surprising that the thing that I need to give attention to now, for the third time, is hand contractures. The ring finger and its opposite on the other hand decide to go into a non –working mode every night and have to be pulled away forcibly from the palms of the hands, snapping like a bow-string when they get bad. But just a little nip and tuck and a short time of recovery afterwards for each of my hands in turn, and I’ll be able to do everything I want to do (except maybe play the violin). But then I suppose I shouldn’t expect that kind of a miracle, now should I? Perhaps if I had ever actually learned to play the violin…