Both of my sons, Ben and Matthew, are now in college. A long time ago I promised my daughter, Meredith, who is still in high school that when the boys went off I would redo the basement for her and her friends. After years of crazy boys being down there playing video games and hurling lacrosse balls around, not to mention at times fists, at fragile walls, it was her turn to have the basement to herself. I should have had that project finished by now but I don’t. For some reason when I contemplate what needs to be done down there I freeze up. I don’t know why. The magnitude is not so huge or the complexity of the project all that hard to fathom. I just haven’t seemed to be able to get motivated to do it. I have felt paralyzed. A friend of mine suggested that maybe it is because doing projects like this are a constant reminder that things that were once easy for me to do are now very hard, if not impossible. He might be right. He said, “T.S., you just might have to accept that you will need help and do things differently than you used to.” That is very hard for me.
One day I was driving Meredith to an appointment and I started asking her questions about what she wanted her basement to look like. I said, “Would you like me to take the ceiling tiles out and maybe go with a more industrial look? She said, “No, I want a ceiling and I want lights.” I asked, “What about the old futon.” She said, “It needs a new cover. You also need to fix the window. It gets cold down there.” I said, “OK, what about the floor?” She said, “Area rugs would be nice.” I dropped her off and she hugged me. “Thank you, Tom. You know I love you.” Since she started talking she has always called me by my first name and I don't care. As long as she doesn't say, “I hate you," Tom," I couldn't give a damn what she calls me.
When I got home I started thinking. “Maybe there is a way I can do this. I just have to figure it out.” I went to take my walk. Along the way I thought about the logs, how they blocked the path and got into the water and kept it from moving, and I also thought about something else related.
She got me to sit down on the edge of one of the planters on the street. I told her that I had Parkinson’s and she smiled. She asked me, “How long?” I told her it had been only about a month. She assured me that I hadn’t been on the medicine long enough and I was still adjusting. She took me by both hands and pulled me up. She said, “I’m going to teach you a trick. If this happens again, just focus on a crack in the sidewalk ahead of you, pretend it is a log and that you have to step over it. Once you do; then keep going forward.” She had me do it and she was right. She gave me a hug and then went on her way. I wish I had the presence of mind to get that woman’s number so I could thank her. Kris said to me, “I have heard of that trick too. I’m glad it works.”
I was recently texting with my good friend, Marko. He sent me a much needed virtual “man-hug.” We talked about challenges and obstacles we were both facing. He told me about how he had to put a beloved dog down and how sad it made his wife. He also told me about how an old injury was bothering him that he thought he might have to have surgery to repair it. Despite his pain he asked me how I was doing. I told him that it was always a journey and that logs sometimes get in your path. I said, “I think you figure out quickly how to step over logs, which maybe is why God put them there in the first place.” He said, "I think that a good thing for me and a lot of other people to think about."