Years ago, when I was a single mom, my tools for household repairs were glue gun, duct tape, and WD-40. If those didn’t do the job, whatever needed fixing remained broken.
Then I met Peter. After our first date forty years ago, I brought him home to meet my young daughters. He made an impression on them, as he had on me, but when he looked beyond us, at our house, he shook his head and rolled his eyes. He brought his tool box to our second date.
From then until five or six years ago, he fixed all sorts of things with ease, built and refinished furniture, made games and toys, painted and wall-papered, took care of the cars, grocery-shopped, and occasionally cooked meals.
He can no longer do any of those things, nor does he notice they need doing. For a while he was mad at himself because even simple tasks were beyond him. Now he doesn’t seem to care.
I care that he doesn’t notice, that he can’t do little jobs, that he can’t care. It frustrates each of us in different ways, though there’s a common denominator — dementia.
Household repairs piled up undone, but I long since surrendered my glue gun. Then I realized that a member our writers’ group writes in his spare time, but is a handyman by day! Several members of the group have used him and all speak highly of his work.
John! He studies the problem, figures out what should be done, what parts he’ll need, and arrives on time — often with bounty from his garden — to do the work.
And Peter likes him, he really likes him. Usually, if someone he doesn’t know comes to the house he hides upstairs to work on his Cutty Sark model. But from the first, he laughed with John as if they were old buddies.
Last week, John asked Peter if he’d like to go to Lowe’s with him to get supplies for my most recent to-do list. Peter was out the door before the question mark arrived at the end of the sentence. He returned laughing and John was amazed he’d talked about such a variety of subjects — WWII, soccer, cars, “Generous” Electric— common topics for my husband who had a new audience in John. Peter’s short-term memory is long gone, but he remembers the good old days.
That evening I told him I was surprised he’d been willing to go to Lowe’s spur-of-moment. “I don’t get to go everyday like I used to,” he said, a nod to when he could still drive himself wherever he wanted to go.
My to-do list for John grows daily, and I’m thrilled he’s “on call.” I think I’ll pass these fixes on to him. Might come in handy sometime!
Q. How do you fix a broken mallard?
A. Duct tape.
Q. How do you fix broken dentures?
Q. How do you fix a stolen rifle?
A. Hot glue gun.
Q. How do you fix a broken pumpkin?
A. Pumpkin patch.