Getting help (deep gratitude)

Friday, May 6, 2011

I've blazed my way through this life of mine—doing my best (and that's not always the best) at whatever chores stand here before me. I've not wanted to bother anyone else with the trivialities of my living, have thought it best to make and feather my own nest, which is also, of course, the nest of my family. Nick has been the one exception to this rule—building me a small stone wall, mowing my lawn, edging my flower beds, wheelbarrowing mulch, and digging me out of the worst weather. I don't know where I'd be without Nick. He's worth the price of this entire neighborhood.

The past two weeks, however, I've relented, asked for help. Hired a man to repaint the deck that was destroyed by winter weather. Hired Nick and his team to help me with my garden. Hired two young women to help me refresh the tops of ceiling blade fans, the bowls of lamps, the racket of blinds, the wood oils of the banister. I'm having a small dinner party. I want things to be right. My best is not always the best.

Perhaps it's because I've been emotional lately—faced with both anticipated and unanticipated losses and goodbyes—that the work of these good souls has so moved me. Perhaps because asking for and getting help is, for me, such a novelty. But yesterday, joined in my office by one of these dear young women, I could barely hold it together. She was dusting the books, rearranging the potted flowers, realigning the glass apples along the sill. She was talking, telling me about her second job, a merchandising job, she said, in which she helped arranged displays in retail stores. "I know that one," she said, pointing to Dangerous Neighbors. "I put it out on bookstore shelves all around here."

She said she thought it was cool that I'd written so many books. I said I thought it was cool that she commandeered dust, oiled down the bannister, had batted down the pincer-handed spider with her own skinny mop.

"I keep a really neat house," I said, "but I don't have your skills."

"It helps," she said, "if you're a little obsessive compulsive."

I don't know if people who help like she helped, who help like Nick always helps, know how valuable they are. I'm putting it out here, though, in this fractured universe. I'm putting out my gratitude.


bermudaonion said...

Thanks for the reminder to stop and remember things that we often take for granted.

Melissa Walker said...

It's so lovely to ask for help, because people are happy to give it. It gives them something too.

I was just thinking about a friendship where I feel like I'm not getting enough. I was thinking in a small-minded way about what more I wanted from my friend. And then it dawned on me: What I need to do is GIVE more to her. It'll come back tenfold, because that's how it works.

Dani said...

So lovely, Beth. This post really resonated with me. Have fun at your dinner party and enjoy!

Dani said...

Thanks, Beth, this is such a lovely post. It really resonated with me. Enjoy your small dinner party!

Wendy said...

Beth, Thank you for posting this - it is a reminder to me that I also need to ask for help sometimes. We cannot do it all, and yet I often feel like I must do it all. It is also a reminder to appreciate the skills of others which make our worlds brighter, cleaner, more beautiful. It is so easy to forget the hard work that others do, to take for granted the little things which really (when viewed more closely) are not all that little.

Susan Campbell said...

Your post reminds me of something that Booker T. Washington wrote: “I am often asked how it is possible for me to superintend the work at Tuskegee and at the same time be so much away from the school. In partial answer to this I would say that I think I have learned, in some degree at least, to disregard the old maxim which says, ‘Do not get others to do that which you can do yourself.’ My motto, on the other hand, is ‘Do not do that which others can do as well.’”

Enjoy your dinner party.

Susan Campbell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Campbell said...

Beth, not sure why only two of my three names shows up, but I trust you know the third name: Bartoletti.

Lilian Nattel said...

I'm so glad you got the help, Beth. And it is a good reminder.

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