Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Heat, flat tires, and a servant's heart

It's too dang hot!  Ever since our trip to Boston last summer, when I got heat stroke, I can't seem to handle the heat well at all.  I become grumpy, irritated, snappish and can't bear the copious amount I sweat.  There was a movie out a couple decades ago about a TV newsroom, and one of the characters got his big break as a weekend anchor for the broadcast.  And that man, whatever his name was, had water pouring off his skin and over his clothes like a broken faucet.  I laughed wildly at the physical comedy of that scene.  But I'm not laughing now, as so much salt water pours off  me that I should really capture it in a rain barrel and take back to the sea.  It's ridiculous to sweat this much and I'm telling you, there's nothing 'glowy' about it.  Maybe I've been a member of Beve's family so long that my interior thermostat is calibrated to their heaters.  Beve's always been a sweater--er, not a sweater, but a sweat-er.  Like all his siblings.

But my hot body (and I'm not saying I have a hot body, if you can tell the difference.  May those words never come from my head about myself or anyone else!!!) is just plain hot, tired and miserable.  Taking it out on those nearest and dearest to me, namely The Beve.  E took herself off to Costa Rica to visit some friends during this heat wave, though I'm sure it's no picnic there either.  She celebrated her birthday on the sandy beach of Taramindo on the Pacific, farther south than she's ever been before.  With great, salt of the earth friends with whom she can be herself, the connections deep and wide between this couple and E, and their parents and us.  It's a microcosm of how villages once worked--generations after generations became friends because their parents had been friends.  And that's what we get to live here some of the time.

Anyway, it's hot.  Did I mention that?  So hot that we turned on a sprinkler and sent Jamaica straight through it to retrieve her tennis ball.  It only took that first throw for her to discover that it was cooler in the spray of the sprinkler than just sitting in the shade.  Both dogs have been panting hard all day, so I actually took the hose and sprayed Jackson, and though he didn't like it at first, he didn't run away but patiently stood under my spray until I gave him a drink.

Then Beve and I drove out to our old neighborhood in Ferndale where Beve had to make a bid on a lawn project.  We drove past the last home we owned before this one, saw a fresh look with new paint, and a air-conditioning unit in the front window (There might have been a spurt of envy in my sweat when I saw that, though I masked it by saying I didn't like the way it looked in the beautiful arch-topped living room window). Beve found the yard he had to bid, spoke at length with the owner, then we finally tried to turn around and head home.  But (drum roll, please!), the car turned funny (that's as scientific as I can get when I'm this hot!), and Beve stopped, got out, and saw that we had an exceedingly flat tire on the pick-up.  So right there, without even pulling over closer to the curb, he went about the business of changing the tire--crawling on the street under the car to get the spare, sweat dripping in his eyes as he bent his arthritic body over the jack.   I basically stood beside him, like a lawn ornament of moral support.

It's not that I could even be more of a help.  True confession time now:  I've never changed a tire by myself.  I've had a couple of flat tires over the 36 years I've been driving, but never actually had to do the job.  I know the mechanics of it, release spare, find jack, raise jack, loosen lugs, fit new tire in place, tighten lugs, lower jack, re-tighten lugs, check for appropriate tire pressure for the ride home, put equipment away.  Off we go.  But I've never done the work myself.  Doubt I could now.  My left arm has trouble lifting a glass at times, let alone having the strength to loosen and tighten those bolts holding the tire in place.  I remember one weekend trip I took with 3 college roommates out to the ocean (all the way from the landlocked Palouse).  On the way back, on a lonely stretch of road with nary a house in sight, nor many cars even, we blew out a tire.  These four college women sat around that little Honda, trying to read the manual, trying to make the directions make sense.  And it was not a successful attempt.  Fortunately, four 20-year-old women aren't easily overlooked, and the first car that passed (what am I saying? It was the only car that passed!) stopped up the highway and turned around to help us.  Or actually, to do the work without our help.  Our main contribution, as I recall, was just comic relief.

Tonight, Beve didn't even need me to be comic relief.  I just stood with him, watched him efficiently do the job, sweating profusely (him legitimately, me--well, I told you I sweat when I haven't worked up a sweat!).  "It was an adventure," Beve said as we finally drove home. "But isn't it sad that this world has come to a place where we don't help each other?"  It is sad, I agreed.  Our parents raised us and our siblings to give a hand in a time of need, to go the extra mile for a stranger.  My dad, Mr. Boy Scouts of America, expected us to serve those around us.  And Beve lives the Great Samaritan instinctively.  It would be an anathema to him to walk past without offering his services.  Just last night we stopped at Costco on our way home from a wonderful time with friends we rarely see (he's the pastor at the church E attended at WSU), and as we were walking out to our car, a woman was struggling to put a table saw in the back of her rig by herself.  Beve handed me the muffins he'd been carrying, and he took his giant-sized, servant's heart over and lifted that saw into her pick-up.  This was after he'd spent a couple hours at a Nursing Home in town, visiting one of his elderly lawn care customers, a woman we've been mowing for since Daughter & Dad Lawn Care began back in 2002. (That's the royal we, of course.  I've mowed a lawn or two, but that's about it!)

My point is, and I do have one, honest I do, that I have a whole bucket list of things I'll probably never do.  Changing a tire is one of them.  Beve agreed that I probably wouldn't be able to do it any more.  I missed that window, due to disability.  But there's that bigger bucket list, the one Beve lives out instinctively:  Recognizing needs, being open and willing to meet those needs--sometimes before they're even expressed.  Who will I minister to?  Maybe this is the bucket list that would change lives--at least change mine.

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