Life by John E. Stack

Did you ever have one of those days when you suddenly found out that you were older than you remember, a lot older?  Yeah, me too.  It happened just a couple of weeks ago and man did I ever pay for it.  As a matter of fact some of that reminder is still lingering around and hops out when I least expect it.

Until I look in the mirror, my mind still believes that I am in my mid-thirties. When I open my eyes it is almost like “who is that elderly gentleman looking back at me?”  Then reality sets back in.  I recognize me and have to accept the fact that I’m over twice thirty, and I no longer have the same body or strength as I did twenty-five years ago when I was still in the military.  I’m no slouch, and can usually keep up with the young dogs, it just takes me a while longer to recover.

A couple of weeks ago, when we had a break in the rain, I decided to replace a French drain at the side of my house.  A contractor crushed it while replacing a patio in my backyard.  The crushed drain caused the area right outside my front door to flood.  During the previous deluge the water came within an inch of coming in the front door.  I knew I had to do something.

I looked at renting a trencher but decided that I was too cheap (frugal if I may).  I had a mattock and a spade so I was set.  I just had to buy the piping and some connections, so off to the local big box to shop.

It took about an hour to remove the grass from a fifty foot section. Well, about seven hours later I had a trench that was around eight inches deep and a little over fifty feet long.  That North Carolina topsoil also known as red clay kicked my behind.  I installed a tee connection in the existing pipe and laid in the entire run of pipe in a short while.  I wrapped the pipe in material to keep the dirt out and filled the trench back in.  I replaced the sod and reseeded the area.  By this time it was dark and I was so tired I was about to drop.

There was only one problem.  I still had around thirty-five feet to go in the back yard in order for the drain to work properly.  Luckily, we had very little rain during the next week, but it really wouldn’t have mattered.  I was so sore I could hardly move.  My back, my shoulders, my arms and my legs ached.  Finally, by the following weekend I could move enough to start back to work and finish the drain.  Within a few hours I had the next thirty-some feet trenched and ready for pipe. Since I did not have to remove and replace the grass (natural area), it didn’t take long to complete the job.

I was tired, sore and extremely dirty, but I was done.  I had a good sense of accomplishment.  I also had several hundred dollars left in the bank that I didn’t have to pay to have someone else do the job.  It felt good.

I thought about hiring some teens to help but quickly put it out of my mind.  The last guys I hired to help ended up tearing up my lawnmower.  Others only want to get paid and not have to invest any time or energy.  Not my idea of a bargain.

Anyway, my front porch no longer floods and the drain is working really well.  The grass that was removed is starting to take root again.  Plus the soreness is gone.  It even gave me the incentive to go back to the gym.  Now, several times a week I’m sore on purpose.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Life by John E. Stack

  1. Terry Sr & Helen Peddycord

    John Stack you are amazing! Terry and I have felt your frustration time and time again. As DIYers for so many years it is sometimes impossible to not tackle projects (large and small) just as you described. The minds just don’t envision the size of projects any longer.
    Terry and I will take on the least projects now and it seems that somehow, it becomes a huge fireball from Hades!! You know the feeling well I presume, that “place of torment.” Rather than giving in to the torment, we seem to be on track now just leaning back together on a pile of rocks or some of that hard red clay you mentioned. We glare at one another in total disbelief, once again, that the 2 of us would even encounter a thought that we should rip in and get ‘er done. Yes! Our bodies are worn, some parts are just repaired and non-negotiable parts we have the burden of carrying around with us because removing them all would just leave us lifeless. And to take on the insurance companies WOULD be the death of us!!
    Now, we just have the best stinkin’ laughs ever! We laugh at ourselves first, one another next and then the “Team Us” of 44 years. We have even gone so far as to sit on the ground between the rocks and red dirt with our worn out selves and our worn out or “make do” tools, covered in reeking sweat and red dirt head to toe as we gaze in wonder at one another: “What in the world were we thinking? Can you believe we even attempted this?” And still, in the midst of it all we are thankful for life enough left in us and minds that prod us on to courage!
    One of the best conversations we have in the midst of our exhaustion and overwhelmedness is the enventory we take of each other! Like: if you get on this side you can help with your good arm while I stand on this side with my good leg! Oh my! The “Lions and tigers and bears” are the least of our worries at this point! (I’m convinced we ARE them!) “Team Us” has done the inventory to construct one body of the 2! The conclusion? We’re too tired, too worn out and since there is no 100% guarantee “Team Us” would turn out with any perfection, we opt to endure together, spur one another on (sometimes literally!), encourage one another to come to our senses for cryin out loud!! And the best, most important consensus is to LAUGH! LAUGH! LAUGH…together!
    We FEEL your pain brother! We feel your pain and laugh and pray with you😜😜😜🙏
    Now, with that being said I’m going to enjoy and make the most of the little sunshine we have left until winter and pull myself up on that 12 foot extension ladder so I can clean and paint the gutters!
    Dear Father in heaven, I pray that ladder is not as worn out as I am. Amen

  2. Me, I’m just moving furniture and taking down blinds before paying someone else to replace the windows. And I ache. Those years insist on catching up with me.

  3. One year about this time, my doctor put me on prednisone to help me get over a respiratory issue. That night, I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to put up the outside Christmas decorations. I climbed up and down a ladder dozens of time from midnight to two a.m. until the decorations were all up. All kinds of youthful energy! I few days later, after sleeping very little and rushing around for hours like a 20 year old, my doctor took me off the pills. The next day, I felt like I’d been run over by a truck.

  4. Wow, John, I’m so impressed. I wouldn’t have a clue how to do what you did, but I certainly agree with your decision. I usually try to fix things if I know how. My problem now is my doctor won’t let me get up on a tall ladder. I’m on a blood thinner and falling is not an option. Needless to say, I’ve gotten really creative! 🙂

  5. John, just shared this on FB with this comment.
    I think John speaks to all of us in his blog. I’m about to turn 68 and I’m still asking the mirror, “What the hell happened?” I was just in my 40’s a little while ago. I also know the aches he talks about. While living in Tennessee I created several flower gardens and could be found out there on a Saturday or Sunday ALL day long with only breaks to kick off my boots and go use the bathroom. I’d have to remind myself to drink water cuz the sun was so draining. During my time outside, I rarely sat down because it hurt to get back up. By the time, usually dark, I was ready to come in, I’d literally fall into a chair and absolutely couldn’t get back up for all the pain. Now, just like John I visit the gym three times each week. Ok, many weeks lately, it’s only been twice, but next week…I promise to get back into the third day. I can also now work in my new yard in S.C. and not tire out like I used to; but, finding the desire and time is yet another challenge. LOL…it does suck to get old and, like the saying goes, youth is absolutely wasted on the young. Youth and vitality should be something you grow into and not out of! I empathize, John!

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