The Coffee Table

106

I finally decided it was time to mow the grass. I’ve been putting it off for fear I couldn’t get the mower started. As long as I don’t try to start it, I can continue to hope that it actually will start. Once you put the key in and nothing happens, there’s a whole new cloud of anxiety to deal with.  

But Sparky started right up! Hurrah! Sparky is the newest addition to the barn. I bought her last year because my old faithful, Hank, has needed a lot of R & R recently. And some surgery. I used to call in a licensed surgeon for the job, but I’ve been going to You-Tube Lawn-Tractor-Repair University in the last couple of years. The caveat is Hank’s periods of R & R are extended. For me, the repairs take days. Sometimes weeks. Hence Sparky’s introduction into the fold. I just hope Hank doesn’t feel slighted. (Hank is bigger and can mow a wider swath.)

I know, I know, a person who grew up with a logical father telling her not to put her faith in what can’t be proven shouldn’t go around calling her lawnmowers by name, let alone assigning them personality traits. But by naming them, and getting to know their “personalities,” I am less inclined to get mad at them. I can remember yelling and swearing at Hank. Maybe even kicking him. Now I treat him with respect, whether he’s running or not.  And that is good for me!

It took decades to learn, but I finally recognize that my anger hurts  me more than it hurts anyone else (although it didn’t do much for family members, either).  There was a time when I would clench my teeth and muscles when things went wrong, and dwell in a boiling stew until the problem eased.  Or maybe even self-righteously savor the outrage, especially if I found someone other than myself to blame.  All that simmering took its toll on my physical and emotional well-being.

This relatively newfound patience in the time of “catastrophe” seems to be working. For the second time since my husband’s passing in February, the basement has flooded. The first time it was covered in excrement and needed professional turbocharged clearing of the exit pipe. But I stayed calm. The second time—which literally occurred in the middle of writing this column—the washing machine dumped all its wash and rinse water through the pine floor into the basement. I don’t own enough towels to sop up the mess!

There’s nobody to blame but me or the washer. And even if there was, the basement would still be flooded. So I’ve decided to not worry too much about it.  The plumber and/or the washer repair man will arrive, sooner or later. (I’ve not yet been to the You-Tube school for plumbing or washing-machine repair.)  And summer is coming—the floor will dry up eventually!

If it took having conversations with lawnmowers, or thanking the handtruck for its service, or hugging house plants to earn this peace, so be it.  To keep anger at a minimum is good for one’s soul. And, sometimes, for the nearby inanimate objects, too! 

My car’s name is Pearl, which matches her complexion. So far, she is healthy, but if she hits a snag, I will try to keep my cool, despite her being my only ride into town. In the meantime, poor Hank needs another surgery.  Back to the university…

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