Thursday, July 7, 2016

When Things Go Wrong

Last week, I was getting ready to go to my Alzheimer’s board meeting and decided to take the dog outside before I left. As I walked past the tubs of tomato, sweet potato, and pepper plants, I noticed another of those pesky Japanese beetles crawling along the grapevine that twines across the lattice work.

We’d been trying to get rid of the beetles for weeks. They had skeletonized the grape leaves and I could swear they were eyeballing our tomato plants.

After reviewing information from the Master Gardener’s, we had tried a couple of recommended ideas to get rid of them. One of the recommendations  was to pick them off. My first reaction had been “Ewwweee” but after a couple of weeks, that didn’t seem to be a bad idea.

I never thought about the beetle squirming in my hand in a bid for survival. When I went to throw it down, I whacked the back of my hand on the handle of the dog leash. Hard! It puffed up like a bad case of rheumatoid arthritis. Well, I iced it, had it x-rayed, put in a splint, and looked at by an orthopedic doc. Verdict was that it wasn’t broken and the tendons were where they were supposed to be.

My hand was a small reminder of how difficult life can become. We never realize how great something is until things go wrong and it doesn’t work right.

When things go wrong, we can easily be persuaded to pay more attention to what is wrong than what is right. I know how true that was as a caregiver. It was a constant struggle to schedule substitute care while I was at work. Sometimes I had to remind myself that I was so lucky to have a big family and people who were willing to go the extra mile to help me keep Jim safe. But things went wrong—he wandered away, he was stubborn, he paced, he scared some of the hired help.

I can still remember Jim’s frustration when he couldn’t find the right words, or when he made a grocery list and later noticed he had transposed letters. When his mechanical brain quit functioning correctly, he remembered how to take the vacuum apart, but not how to put it together again. His musical knowledge slipped away and he couldn’t remember song lyrics or what chords to use.

In the category of things going awry, no one has ever been exempt. Even people, who seem to lead golden lives, have catastrophes. To make it worse, those who live in view of the public often have their personal disasters plastered all over the tabloids, Internet, or even mainstream news where armchair quarterbacks nationwide critique their failures.

Just recently, parents have been skewered over the flames of self-righteousness for not being watchful of their children. People expressed their outrage toward the mother of a three-year-old child who wound up in a guerilla pit at the Cincinnati zoo. Fortunately, that child lived and no charges were filed against the mother. Another child was allowed to wade in a lagoon near a Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and was attacked and killed by an alligator. The child was too young to read the “no swimming” signs, and the parents did not realize the danger in ignoring the warning.

Before we are too quick to judge, I think maybe we should consider the times when things could have went wrong, but didn’t. Our lives can be upended in a heartbeat.

People can have life changing injuries in an accident. My accident was small, but not having the use of my right hand for a couple of days created more problems than I would have thought possible. Signing a check left handed may have been the highlight. Heaven knows what the bank is going to think of those scribbles!   

More than a week after the hand-whack-gone-wrong, my hand still hurts and remains swollen. I still have two fingers that don’t always do what they should, which makes typing incredibly challenging.

Less than a month ago, I didn’t even know what a Japanese beetle looked like, much less that one would be responsible for an injury. Until things went wrong, I didn't realize just how good things were! 

Copyright © July 2016 by L.S. Fisher

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