Published in the Rains County Leader on May 23, 2017:
The last couple of weeks have been a bit rough for the Brendles. Actually, David has been struggling with one thing or another for most of this year.
He caught an upper respiratory infection from me toward the end of December, and he didn’t begin to really feel normal again until the end of March. Because of that, the early spring weather, and all the rain, the weeds were way ahead of him by the time he felt well enough to do anything about it.
Finally, about two weeks ago, he hauled out the mower, donned a protective mask and hat, and went to work. He knocked out the front yard in nothing flat, and the back yard up close to the house went well, too. Then, he ventured back a bit further where he made a couple of circuits before I heard him cut the engine and begin walking toward the house. I knew there must be trouble. If he was taking a water break, he would have driven up closer. I stepped out on the porch.
“Did you run out of gas?” I asked.
“No. The engine was still running, but the mower just stopped moving.”
After checking the Internet and talking with friends, he discovered that he had a shredded drive belt. He ordered the part, we pushed the mower back to its resting place, and the weeds continued to grow.
A few days later, the phone rang, and it was Kent, a friend from church, asking a favor. A mutual acquaintance had lost everything but his office and warehouse in the tornado. Although he has friends and family who are more than happy to have him stay with them, he is anxious to get back home next to his office. Since his house is beyond repair, Kent asked if we would consider lending out our motor home for a few months.
“Sure,” said David. “We’d be glad to help – but the last time we tried to start it, the engine wouldn’t even turn over.”
Kent assured David we’d get some help with the repairs, and everyone went back to the Internet for suggestions on how to get the motor home on the road again.
I’m not sure if problems really come in sets of three or if that’s just how my mind works, but the third issue arose at the church last Tuesday. When I returned to my office from lunch, there was a window in the middle of my computer screen announcing that I was the lucky winner of a TrojanWorm.
My computer was locked up, and I was painfully aware that I had no backups. David tried every way possible to do a restart and/or restore, but by the end of the day, he had to admit defeat. The man who deals with the church computers happened to be there working with tech-related issues in the new building, and he assured me that he knew a repairman in Sulphur Springs who could fix anything, but I wasn’t convinced. I spent the rest of the week reconstructing the bulletin format and several other forms from scratch and wondering how I was going to rebuild my contact data base.
Thursday was the beginning of an uptrend, though. After I finished work at the church, Kent’s wife Stella pulled into our driveway with two friends we hadn’t met and two new starting batteries. They switched out the batteries and did guy stuff for a while. By the time they left, the engine would turn over, but it still wouldn’t crank. At least it was progress.
Friday was even better. First of all, I had finished all my church work Thursday in spite of the computer issues, so I was able to take Friday off as usual. Second, the inside or house lights in the motor home, the ones that would not come on the day before, were on. The engine still wouldn’t crank, but we enjoyed that small step forward.
After I went into the house to catch up on cleaning and laundry, David tackled the lawn mower. He had watched a number of YouTube videos that showed men changing the drive belt in less than thirty minutes, but by lunch time, thanks to a rusty spindle, all he had managed to do was remove the deck. After lunch, he went back to work with the assistance of Charles, a helpful neighbor from across the street. Even with two of them, it wasn’t as easy as it looked on the video – but before dinner time, David was able to successfully mow a couple of test strips.
Meanwhile, the motor home sat waiting patiently, and its turn came on Saturday. The previous day at lunch David had asked Jimmy, a friend from the Senior Center, about the motor home. He’s not a professional mechanic, but he’s quite the handyman. He gave David some good advice and said he would try to come by one day next week to look at it. Then, he grinned.
“So, how much are you gonna pay me to work on it.”
Connie, our other across-the-street neighbor, slapped him on the shoulder and said, “What do you mean, pay you? This is for charity.”
After she explained what was going on, I guess he caught the vision because he showed up Saturday morning ready to work. Charles had so much fun with the lawn mower on Friday that he crossed the street to see what was going on. The three of them did more guy stuff, and around mid-afternoon, the engine cranked. While the guys enjoyed their victory, I called Stella to arrange a time to deliver the RV to its home for the next several months.
Even after the success of both the lawn mower repair and the RV repair, I woke up Sunday morning with butterflies in my stomach. This was the day I would find out the fate of my computer. David dropped me at the door a few minutes before Sunday School, and I rushed into my office and hit the power button on my computer. I drummed my fingers impatiently as I waited for it to boot up, but when the desktop finally appeared, I let out a sigh of relief. All my files were there, intact. If felt like a miracle.
Since then, I have been counting our blessings. We have church friends, Senior Center friends, neighborhood friends, and friends we haven’t met yet. We don’t always have everything we want, but we have more than we need and opportunities to share what we have. We live in a community where people come together to help each other, and occasionally we’re all blessed with a miracle or two. As George Gershwin wrote, “Who could ask for anything more?”