Getting On With It
What is It? Life
A Survival List for a Widow
If you have never been totally responsible for household chores, they may, at first seem overwhelming. Where are the tools? There are HOW MANY kinds of screw drivers? Is there not one flashlight in this house that works? Why won’t this darn window close all the way? Where is that water coming from? My bricks are what? Why?
My husband would always have the common sense answers and even on his death bed was directing me about how to turn on the air compressor so I could fill up a tire on the truck that had been going flat regularly for the last 6 months. Why do men put up with this stuff? Get it fixed or get rid of it. Buy a new one. Hire someone to repair it. These were my immediate solutions.
I began to realize that household chores and keeping my house afloat was not rocket science. Yes, my first thought at each impending disaster was to panic, cry, call a “man” to help or hire it out. Being the independent woman I am, and stubborn, I usually hired it out. I am glad I had lots of money at the time, but now I am beginning to think that I had more money than brains. Don’t panic, think! Don’t run for help, research, ask questions, maintain your composure and for heaven’s sake use your brains to reason through the problem. If he could do it – you can too!
Easy words to say – but I know that every time you are faced with a “husband” job, it makes you miss him more – it may even make you angry at him. Why did you leave me to face this alone? I need you!
My husband had every tool known to man: the big ones, the heavy ones, the electric ones, the cream of the crop ones. Our garage was full of the ultimate tools. Whole collections of screw drivers, socket wrenches, vice grips, air tools – you name it, we had it in our garage. I soon discovered what I needed to do in order to feel like the master of my world of MY GARAGE – modernize and downsize!! I needed to “womanize” my garage workspace.
I had discovered with great frustration that even trying to hang a picture was a real challenge I had never appreciated before. I had to determine which plastic thing (anchor) went in the wall – into my freshly drilled hole – to match the screw that I had. After playing mix and match with the drawers of things I found in the garage, I bought a little box of brand new screws and wall anchors – all colour coded so I could at least hang a picture without destroying the wall.
I began to buy power tools that fit my hands and limited arm and shoulder strength. My chain saw weighs seven pounds, and my electric sander and lawn edger only five pounds. I have two stepping stools now so I can reach all those high shelves and I have plans to replace the old wooden drawers of the workbench – handbuilt by my husband – so that I can actually open and close them without dislocating my elbows.
Here is a list for widow survival tools – at least for the first couple of years.
- A set of screw drivers – square, star and straight. You may want to get a set of each kind.
- A flashlight or two that actually works. Costco sells tiny ones in packages of three. I love them.
- A pair of scissors on each floor of the house.
- A picture hanging kit.
- A drill you can handle. Sometimes the battery powered ones are too heavy to lift above your waist. A good old electric one is fine. Be sure to get the bits that match if they don’t come with the drill.
- A good extension cord. One shorter and one that is about 100 feet. Don’t get those fancy ones with the end from which you can’t remove your plug no matter how you hold your tongue in your cheek. Keep it simple. I like the orange ones.
- A hammer – any hammer will do.
- A pry bar – one normal sized one and one very small one.
- A package of sandpaper of different grids.
- A rubber mallet (hammer).
- Easy connects for all of your hose connections in the yard.
- An electric start mower with some assist in the forward push mechanism.
- A portable gas container for your mower that you can actually lift. One gallon?
- A battery powered edger for the lawn.
- A dolly with wheels so when you bring that bird seed, cat litter, or lawn fertilizer home, you can actually get it to the back yard or garage without destroying your body.
- Garbage pails with wheels.
- A wheeled recycling cart which holds all three categories of recyclables and can be nicely pushed to the curb. I love this.
- An exacto blade for cutting up that cardboard for recycling. An easy grip yellow handled one is the best.
- Understand the importance of duct tape in all you do. They make pink duct tape now but the grey stuff is the cheapest. This is a staple. Don’t be caught without it.
- Understand the location of all of the manuals for all of the mechanical stuff now under your watchful eye. Organize these manuals and bills of sale, if you have them, so you can get assistance from the people who may have to be called in as experts. I needed to know how to winterize my snow blower, my lawn mower, my generator, and my high pressure washer.
Above all, understand that learning all of these new things is not an immediate requirement for survival. It is just a sample of the kinds of things you may not have had to think about any other time of your life. Don’t feel bad if you have to call on the furnace guy or the plumber because there are things for which I am sure even your husband would have relented and called in a pro.
You deserve the best in all things. You will feel great about your independence and your accomplishments in this new field of endeavour. Keep going!