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Walkin'

“What’s this?” I asked Mom while holding up a three-foot section of doll rod with an odd-looking plastic yellow attachment on one end.
I was in my parents’ garage helping them do a little spring cleaning.
Dad is out of the hospital after a long stay recovering from a fall that broke his hip. He was almost back to his old self when his heart started acting up, setting him back significantly. He gets around with a walker, but not very far or fast.
Luckily, while frugal, neither Mom nor Dad are hoarders so there wasn’t tons of stuff, but there was some stuff nevertheless that needed to be moved out.
Years of flipping hamburgers for McDonalds, performing other repetitive chores and arthritis have combined to limit Mom’s arm motion. Since she’s short to begin with, she can’t reach things much more than four feet off the ground. As a result she decided to cut back on Christmas decorations this year because she can no longer put them up. I found the decorations above the rafters in the garage and out they went. Behind the box with the artificial tree I found a plastic bag with an Afghan Mom knitted sometime in the ’70s. “I’ve been looking for that for 20 years,” Mom said happily, and headed into the house with it.
But we did toss a lot of stuff and most of it was Dad’s tools.
As I’ve detailed in this space many times, Dad worked nearly constantly beginning about age 12. Besides his full time job delivering packages for Marshall Fields, he delivered newspapers early in the morning, pumped gas during his lunch hour, drove a taxi in the evenings and weekends, and used one week of his vacation time from Fields to deliver Easter Lilies in the Chicago area every spring.
Even with all of those hours he still found time to perform many handyman tasks around the house like painting a room or repairing the old Ford– we always had an old Ford. In the last decade, however, he’s given up on many of the more difficult jobs but still kept a few like changing the oil in the car himself and shoveling snow.
But at the age of 87, even the tools for those jobs headed to Goodwill or the dump.
I was especially appreciative of the snow shovels that went out the door. There were nearly a dozen of them, which may seem excessive to the casual observer. However, anyone who shovels a lot of snow knows that different styles and sizes are needed to match the type and amount that falls. A light dusting can be pushed with a wide but shallow blade while a heavy wet snow is best scooped with a grain shovel, to give two examples.
I’m not sure whether Dad loved or hated snow. He seemed to look forward to it but then worked relentlessly to vanquish it. Notably missing from his array of weapons was a sheet of plywood he rigged up when I was a kid to be a jerry rigged plow. The idea was to angle the board out the back double doors of our Ford Econoline van and then push a four-foot swath along the way as he drove in reverse down the driveway. The board wouldn’t stay put, however, so he enlisted my brothers and I to stand in the back of the van and hold it. All was going fine until the board snagged on something and nearly decapitated my brothers and me.
The clean up went fairly smoothly and in a few hours we were finished.
And the odd stick with the yellow attachment: it was an old mop Mom was saving to use as a cane if she ever needs one.
On another topic, two weeks ago I wrote about my adventure hunting turkey but failed to report whether I got one or not. Yes, I did. It turned out to be a big one, 22 pounds.