Cheryl Hughes: Think Ahead
Garey says that he and his sister, Charlotte, were admonished by their parents to “Think ahead” to the point that neither Garey nor Charlotte looks behind themselves. I can attest to that. Both leave a wake of destruction in their paths that is sometimes perilous to those coming behind them, and in Charlotte’s case, perilous to herself.
I will have to admit they get a lot done. They are both very good DIY people, but it will take them a week after the project to find the tools they used for the project, and even longer to get things that were turned upside down put aright once again. You go at your own risk into one of their work areas. Power tools, hammers, screwdrivers, nails and bits of wood are tossed hither and thither—if thither is a real word—around the work area. Nothing is wasted and little is ever thrown away.
You know, I don’t have to clean up the mess, so it shouldn’t be my concern, and it wasn’t until two weeks ago. It was about two weeks ago when Charlotte was running around the house like her hair was on fire—this is normal procedure for her—head, arms and torso a few beats ahead of her feet and legs, when her big toe caught on a rolled-up piece of old carpet, next to her back door. The catching of her toe wouldn’t have meant imminent disaster had her back door been closed. Her back door was open, however, and Charlotte fell out the back door, over the deck and onto some paving stones, shattering her left wrist and breaking her right elbow. She lay sprawled on the ground for an hour before her son finally heard her calling for help.
She currently has two metal plates in her wrist and a couple of screws in her elbow. She has casts on both arms. The only way she can feed herself is by using a long-handled, two-tined meat fork and a wooden spoon. Charlotte has had several misfortunate accidents during her 66 years on earth, and subsequently has metal screws in both knees—I’m not sure about her ankles. Yesterday, she told me when she passes away, instead of choosing burial for her, we might consider recycling her body.
Charlotte lives like she lives because she is always trying to get out in front of a potential problem that she believes is surely coming her way. Once, Garey’s mom, Aggie, discovered Charlotte measuring her basement in order to see how she might turn it into a separate apartment for a caregiver in the event that Aggie could no longer take care of herself. I understand the mindset of hurrying to get out in front of a thing, but you can wear yourself out trying to prevent things that might never happen.
Of course, in the physical world, we need people who think ahead. Fire fighters often do controlled burns to prevent larger wildfires from happening. Engineers blow up huge blocks of ice on rivers during the spring thaw to keep the large chunks from forming damns that cause flooding. There are embassies and emissaries all over the world charged with the tasks of preventing war. Yes, there are times when it pays to think ahead.
One of my favorite examples of thinking ahead occurred during ancient times. Before David was king of Israel, he was the leader of a rag-tag group of men who protected the flocks and herds of a man called Nabal. At the end of the season, when the herdsmen returned to Nabal with their sheep in tow, David sent one of his men to ask for food and wine as a good will gesture for their work as guardsmen. Nabal basically said he didn’t owe them anything. David’s man returned empty-handed, and David swore vengeance on Nabal and his whole household.
One of Nabal’s servants went to Abigail, Nabal’s wife, and told her how his master had refused to reward David and his men for keeping the flocks and herds safe, adding they had not lost one sheep and had not suffered any bodily harm while David and his men watched over them. He told Abigail that David was out for vengeance, and who could blame him.
Abigail quickly rounded up the servants, who packed bread and wine and fig cakes onto the backs of donkeys and sent them out to meet David. She followed behind. When she met David and his men, who were most certainly impressed by the donkey banquet—the fig cakes alone would have won me over—she fell to the ground and begged for mercy on her household. My favorite part was when she said, “My husband is an idiot” (actually, she called him a fool, but I take poetic license occasionally).
David relented, and several lives were saved by this quick-thinking woman.
“Think ahead” does serve a purpose, and Charlotte will have several days now, and in her future, when she can do just that. Unfortunately, her body will have to wait to follow, at least until she can bend her elbows.