Monday, December 12, 2011

Just Call If You Need Anything (Whine!)

One of my dear friends once wrote about her gratitude for the friends who were still showing up, months into her chemo, long after everyone else had forgotten.

Last night a friend called and mentioned a Taize service this week and a Blue Christmas service next.  "I'll go!" I said.

I am three weeks and three days post-surgery, no longer on the brink of collapse, but watching my expenditures of energy of all kinds very carefully.  My mother-in-law is three days post open-heart surgery, one and one-half hours away.  My husband is, we hope, at the end of a major and chaotic project at work that has required 60-80 hour weeks for months.  (Literally.  On Saturday morning he went to see his mother.  On Saturday night he went to work at midnight and came home early Sunday afternoon.)  The kids are in law and graduate school finals.

Here's what to substitute for the "just call if you need anything" line:

1.  I'm on my way to the grocery.  What could I pick up for you?"

2.  I'm going to the drugstore,  Do you need any prescriptions picked up?

3.  Could I come over and bring your lights and ornaments upstairs?  (Or down, as the case may be?) 

4.  Would you like me to come over and untangle the old lights?

5.  Could I pick up some new lights so that you don't have to go to five different stores because you were supposed to buy them over Thanksgiving when you were high on morphine-based pharmaceuticals?

6.  Would you like me to put the lights on the tree?

7.  Dinner is on the way!

8. Doctors' appointments every week?  Want some company?

9.  I'm coming over to change your beds.

10.  I'm coming over to clean your bathroom.

11.  (Bonus - wins you a go-straight-to-Boardwalk and it's yours for free)  There's a hole in the bathroom sink porcelain?  Tell me what you want and I will get a new sink delivered and installed. (This only works for people like me, who are not product-obsessed or even interested.)

Obviously we have some lighting issues around here. 

And as enlightening as this has been for me with respect to my own past failures where family and friends are concerned, it has also been enlightening to me where The Quiet Husband is concerned.  He has been making the money (at considerable personal cost for many months), providing the health insurance, taking care of me, and now visiting his mom.  

And, completely unlike me in any way, he does all of this without complaint or even commentary.

(Don't worry; I have no plans to emulate him with respect to the latter. I know my limitations.)


  1. I think the only thing I could do from Florida is the sink, but I could give it a try!

    I will also say that I've used (and loved) for a few of my friends and it works great. If you have a friend who knows all your local people, and would like a quick email tutorial on that site I'll be glad to tell them. Just point me in the direction of their email and I will take care of it.

    I think I will go over and help some friends with their lights, though. In honor of you.

  2. Recently I asked a parishioner, whose daughter was in the hospital with a severe allergic reaction, if I could help with anything...such as walk her dogs, make some meals, assist with her son getting from one place to response she said, that she couldnt focus on any of that all she coukd do was tend to her daughter...leavine me to say...let me know if there is anything I can do...sigh...

    Its really challenging to offer help in a manner that is helpful, and to receive offers of help. A few days later this same person sent put an email with a couple of specific requests for a group of us....and people pitched in.....

    I'm sorry the challenges go on and on...But, am grateful you offered up a list of ideas for how to offer help...

  3. During the last two weeks of Erin's life, my dear DEAR cousin walked in the door several times each week carrying Erin's favorite red pears, sliced them and and put them in her favorite bowl, fixed a bowl of oatmeal for me, did the dishes that had piled up from the night before, grabbed the towels I'd used after bathing Erin and the sheets from her bed that lay on the floor and put them in the washing machine, then the dryer and then folded and put them in the drawer for the next time I'd need them, sat with her while I took a shower (and once I even took a walk around the block with the dog) had movers come and take our piano to her house to make more space to maneuver the wheelchair, etc around... and then she rushed back to pick her then 4-year-old up from preschool.

    Twenty years ago, she cared for her mother, her father and her sister who all died of cancer within a period of four years. Her sister left six children, the youngest of them was three. This was someone who had lived on the other side and knew exactly what to do. All without fanfare. I don't know what I would have done without her.

    I wrote a post about this same topic some time ago. When people asked me what I needed, I usually had no idea because I was so exhausted and wrapped up in my focus on Erin. It was too overwhelming to have to come up with something. People just have to try to be intuitive, and I understand that's so hard because it involves the fine line of boundaries.

  4. Yes, I have just been taken (legitmately) to the woodshed by someone who has made many offers.

    But you're right -- it's just too hard to figure it out ourselves. For me, the anesthesia fog the first couple of weeks and now the press of certain things I MUST do -- just too hard to think clearly about everything else.

    And then there is the boundary thing. Sigh.

  5. If I were closer, I'd be doing some of those things. I could put may time as a tree/Christmas decorator to good use. In the meantime, thank you for yet another lesson to those of us who stumble through life...

  6. not a fan of shines, but I do dig this one