Today, I miss Mark. I miss him every day, all the time…but today, I especially missed his physical presence early this morning. Both boys were sick yesterday, but I was fine. Today, well, today was a different story. I awoke with a pounding headache & upset stomach, the same symptoms of the boys. Ben was also still ill. Whenever Mark was here, on the rare occasion that I was sick, he’d jump out of bed, get the boys ready, and take them to school. All I had to do, basically, was curl up in the warm bed he’d vacated until I felt better. I didn’t have that luxury today.
So, I dragged myself out of the bed and awoke the boys. One was fine to return to school, one was not. It was all I could do to get on shoes and a jacket, find my glasses, and drive Andrew to Milam. Thankfully, after a couple of hours, I feel much better. Headache’s almost gone, and I’ve survived by ingesting 1 1/2 cups of coffee.
Trying to take care of mundane tasks is sometimes maddening. These tasks are a necessary evil in the daily schedule of life. Again, I’m used to sharing these tasks; now there’s no one to share them with. The “to-do” list for today includes updating my GPS with lifetime maps—I will be taking Mom to Love Field on Monday, she’s heading back to Kentucky after a great visit. The boys & I will also be travelling to Kansas for the first time since Mark’s burial for Thanksgiving, and I feel more comfortable navigating alone with the device. Let’s just say the installation hasn’t gone as planned, but it looks like it will finally be successful.
Another task is looking for a roadside assistance plan for our vehicles. This is something else I never worried about with a big strong man around, but now the thought of being possibly stranded on the side of the interstate or desolate country road is a bit unsettling to me. So, I’m spending copious amounts of time researching the best deal for the money. If any of my dear friends reading this have suggestions, I would love to hear them.
I have taken care of a couple of “Mark things” this week that I am proud of. Andrew had his first basketball practice of the season Monday evening, which I was dreading because Mark has always been his coach in some capacity. Practice was changed from the nearby YMCA to the downtown one, which is more inconvenient for us, location-wise. As I muttered about that, it dawned on me that God, yet again, was taking care of us. It would’ve been 1000 times harder to take A.J. into the old practice facility, where all those memories were made, but the downtown Y was new to us both. He practically bounded into the gym, and that boy was hitting nothing-but-net all practice. He told me that his dad was there with him, and I believe him. This year, his age bracket will play full court, with 10 foot goals, and full-court presses will be allowed. Talk about “taking it up a notch” (a Mark Howell-ism)!
Our basketball goal is adjustable (set at 8 foot), and, of course, something I’ve never had to work with. I made it my mission Tuesday to figure out how to raise that bad boy to regulation level. First, I needed a stepladder. Mark was always the “Herb” to our next door neighbor’s “Dagwood” whenever it came to borrowing needed tools, but unfortunately “Dagwood” decided he didn’t want to be married to his beautiful wife of almost 23 years anymore, and moved out, along with all of his neat tools. Without a ladder to borrow, I hopped in the truck & purchased one. With a little help from my mom, who wielded a rake to hold the 100 lb goal in place while I secured it, I was successful with the height change. Although that was a small thing, it seemed huge to me as I put away my tools & my new green fiberglass stepladder.
I also mowed the entire yard for the first time since Mark’s death. That, too, might seem like a small thing, but considering we have about a half acre, that’s alot, if you’re push-mowing. We have a riding lawn mower, but I’ve never attempted to crank it. Heck, I don’t even know where the key is that starts it! Next spring, I’ll get some nice young man to show me how to operate it, but for this fall, I’m pushing. Used the weed eater, treated fire ants, and kept the dog at bay while doing it. Another mission accomplished.
I never thought I’d be doing these things. My daddy told Mark before we married that he never taught me how to mow, because “mowing was man’s work”….and that was fine with him, although I never minded push mowing the front yard whenever he was too busy to do it. Adjusting a basketball goal? Not on my radar before now. And as the days pass, I know that there will be numerous other items that rear their ugly heads and tell me they need attention.
There’s a chimney that needs to be checked for safety before we have our first fire in the fireplace this season. There are two bathrooms that need to be remodeled. There are 4 windows that need replacing in the house. There’s an office full of memories to be emptied and sorted through at TPWD. There’s two holidays coming up quickly that I don’t have a clue as to how to face. And sadly, a Christmas letter to be written that will be the most difficult one I’ve ever attempted. My editor and biggest fan won’t be here to tell me it’s too long or I’m too wordy 🙂
But through it all, I will try to keep my head up. I will continue to run.