Dirt, sweat, and blisters

Well. Here I am again, wondering how so much time has passed without me writing a word. Life sure has changed in the past year.

I spend so much more time with my mom now, since Dad passed away, than I ever did before. I worry about her constantly. I’m not sure if her health is truly worsening, or if I’m just so much more aware of her fragility now that we spend so much time together. She’s lonely, and I’m all too aware that she often feels helpless. I know this is all pretty normal stuff for a person who is mourning the death of her longtime spouse, but I wish there was something I could do to make it better for her.

We have grown so much closer than we’ve ever been. She relies on me a lot and I want to do everything I can to make her life easier. My life feels like a constant juggling act and there’s so much that goes undone around my own house. But I’m not actually complaining. And I’m not actually unhappy about it. Because I have this overwhelming feeling that this whole situation may not last long. I hate that thought. So as long as Mom needs me, I’m going to be there for her.

My sister tag-teams with me in Mom’s care, but for various reasons, was less available last week than usual. I spent a couple of extra evenings with Mom. And as those times go, by the time I pick Mom up after my work day, make dinner, clean up, spend some time with her, and take her home again, the day is done.

This weekend, my sister was able to make up for her absence last week. She ran some errands for Mom and entertained her for dinner both nights. I got a bit of extra free time, and it was perfect timing as Jaeger was home for the weekend.

We enjoyed picture-perfect weather, and Jaeger and Jack took advantage of Saturday to work on Jaeger’s new (to him) boat.


While they spent time wiring up the fish-finders, and cleaning and waxing the boat, I went to the back yard to tame a particular Dogwood shrub which had gotten out of control. I meant to just give it a trim, but …


After pruning and cleaning out the dead stuff, and receiving more than a few nasty scratches up my arms, I just decided to chop the whole thing down. (Jack might be sorry now that he taught me how to use the Sawzall!) The shrub is gone now and I am not sorry! Really, it was for the best. It’s time for something new in that spot anyway.

Taking down the shrub felt so good, I decided to split the Irises, a chore that’s a least a couple of years overdue, as well as tackle some other gardening chores. I found a spade and spent hours digging, chopping, hoisting clumps of Irises and lilies to other parts of the yard, and heaving some of them over the fence for the neighbors who wanted to plant some in their yard. I continued cleaning up and replanting, using muscles I’d forgotten I had. I developed a couple of blisters, got a mild sunburn, and was dirty and sweaty from head to toe.

It felt amazing! It was like some kind of therapy, piercing the dirt with a shovel and tearing things out of the ground, knowing they’d be so much better off with some fresh space and a bit of breathing room.

Kind of like me.

It felt good to take all of that old, wild growth and tame it; to organize and rearrange and have hope that as spring continues to unfold, something pretty and peaceful will come of all that effort.


4 thoughts on “Dirt, sweat, and blisters

  1. I found the same happening after my Mother died…getting closer to my Father, feeling the concern of knowing the end is coming, and the disruption to life…just part of the plan I suppose.


  2. Sounds like wonderful therapy – clearing stuff out, getting physical and all.
    After my mom died, I grew closer to my dad, even though we were already pretty close. I think that’s natural when we know one of our parents is left “alone”. I’m glad your mom has you and your sis.


  3. Tee, I soooo empathize. Since my dad passed, my mom has depended more on me for help (and the older and frailer she becomes, the more she needs me). My only sis is hundreds of miles away (both physically and emotionally), so I’m forging this new turf on my own. It’s hard, but I’d never exchange it for the guilt of knowing afterward that I’d done nothing at all.

    Cool boat! Always nice to have the kids visit, isn’t it? And I admire your gardening therapy (though I imagine retail therapy would have been easier, ha!)


  4. You’re doing such a great thing for your mom, yet it’s also important to take care of yourself. So glad you have your sister to help relieve some of the duties so you can recharge.
    As you well know, these times are hectic and draining, but you’ll never regret them. Hang in there, Tee. Thinking of you….


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