Rick and Monique

Sunday, April 13, 2008


I usually write something that I can't even wrap my brain around sometimes. Sometimes I reread the things I've written and believe I might've been sleep walking or on acid...at least on demerol. Today isn't one of those days...I feel every moment of every tap of the keyboard...why? Because I have something doctors call "soreness."

Friday night and Saturday Monique and I, Anne-Michelle, Andy Otto and Mom and Dad H. began the grueling process of change...in this case change = ripping apart a kitchen and dining room, then putting it back together in a completely new and different way.

Anne-Michelle (AM) and Monique did the bulk of the work Friday night while I spent my time filling in the gaps. But Saturday we got goin at 8:45 a.m. and didn't stop until 5:30 p.m.

Not stopping seems to be a religion to a man like Andy Otto who's upbringing gave him the mindset that says that the work doesn't stop so neither do you. He's got Cerebral Palsy. Anne Michelle is a great communicator and she's also tireless. She makes the day bright and happy and a delight. Her perspective on life is made of virtues such as patience, diplomacy, leadership and work ethic, although that doesn't exhaust her list. She's hard of hearing to the extreme but gets her most of every day. Mom and Dad's bodies are healthy enough and they're also made of unbreakable binds of work ethic. They're style leans toward efficiency and, although Dad can't seem to make it through a day without a bump on his head or blood somewhere on His body and neither of them knows where either of them have put any of their tools or whether they had them at all...yet they always seem to appear before it's time to go home. They've a wealth of military and work wisdom and we benefited from that. They had fun yesterday, and I enjoyed their company. However, they're 62 years old and put in a solid 9 hours...I'm impressed. One day they'll say they're too old for this, but that seems to be a long way off. Monique is...what can I say? She is the most generous person I have ever met. She has her moments like every one but her sense of duty rises above most I've ever known. She displayed grit, a good attitude a sense of wisdom and duty and a lot of patience yesterday. I'm not going explain her by the 12 hours she spent on the house in two days--three hours Friday night and 9 hours on Saturday. I'm not going to write a long essay about how patient she was or how delighted she was by the dusty hull we'd created. I am going to tell you that she sees and discerns so much and she asks a lot of questions that turn out to make sense. She had worries that a large pantry wouldn't make it down the steps in one piece and she was right. She was the first who had worries that the fridge would need to turn before we could move further...the rest of us caught on to the need, but she was first. There were quite a few moments like that yesterday and I'm very impressed with and proud of my lovely wife. She knows that 14 years ago she wouldn't have been so patient. God's made remarkable changes with her and we've benefited. Me? I'm pretty proud of myself...not in a haughty way I don't think--in a good way. I worked on Friday night too and I hammered and carried and pulled and organized all day on Saturday. I'm wicked sore today...my physical maladies predicted that I might be. But what I'm really proud of is that I made a list of jobs for everyone on Friday night! Everyone had a copy of the things they had to accomplish yesterday. The jobs also mostly fit everyone's skill set. Now, we strayed from the list a bit, and I had to make some minor reassessments throughout the day. If someone started to infringe on another's list item, I simply had to say "stick to the list." Simple. I knew that we needed to stick to the list if we would get all that we wanted done yesterday, and if someone strayed I coached them to consult the list and get back to work...it worked! Everyone knew what they were responsible for and none of us scrambled in confusion. Mom, for instance had drinks and food duty and she timed these things beautifully. AM and Monique had cabinet duty and Monique and I had to take out the dishwasher...yadayadayada. Totally sweet. And anyone who knows what I've been through in the past 4 years rejoice that I could even put in 9 hours of really hard work. It was a great day.

I could turn this into a big affair all about how 3 handicaps, two 60-somethings and one very strong woman broke through the glass ceiling of what was possible and expected. I could write a story about the disadvantaged who conquered the world blah blah blah. Instead, I've got a small story about an April Saturday snow, friends, a little hot coffee, some good spirits, smiling faces and the promise of pizza at the end...and everyone worked their little arses off. We went home tired, full and happy. Our dining room and kitchen are hulls--mere memories. But...memory fades and bursts forth into new ways and new days. That was a poetic way of saying the new kitchen and dining room will rock.


Annette B. said...

Sweet! Nice work, all!! Can't wait to see the finished product...and a little sad to not have helped in demolishing. But not that sad. Anyhow, we'll hopefully be there on May 11, so cook us up a good dinner! :)

lauri said...

I am impressed, to say the least! The heck with the kitchen rocking, dear cousins, me thinks you guys totally rock!