When we?re young, most of us can?t wait to grow up. We?ll know everything there is to know, and we won?t need help or permission to do whatever we want to do.
We spend our childhood, teenage years, and even most of young adulthood, chasing the elusive specter of complete independence. If we do this one more thing, we think, we won?t have to rely on anybody any more. That one thing turns into a whole list of ?one mores,? stretching out endlessly in front of us, taunting us.
Unfortunately, there are those who never learn that all of us will depend on someone else for the rest of our lives. Those poor folks get angrier and more frustrated as the list of dependence gets longer. Some of us, though, realize that we?re going to have to depend on people, sometimes people we don?t even know, and make the best of it.
Losing my dad this past month taught me a lot about dependence. Of course, I depended on him to just be there and be Dad. As his health declined, we as a family had to make some tough choices about his care. I found out how much I depended on my mom to be my ?boots on the ground? and how much I depended on my big brother to fill in for Dad.
All of us relied on the nurses to not only care for Dad, but to honestly answer our numerous questions and give us options for what needed to happen next.
After his passing, we all felt adrift. What has to happen now? Whom do we call? Enter the funeral director. Here he was, a kind person who knew what had to happen, and pretty much the order in which it should happen.
That day, he seemed like a miracle worker. Whatever we wanted, he?d get it arranged and follow through. Almost before we knew it, the funeral and its accompanying ceremonies were planned and arranged. Even the food for the faspa was arranged. He depended on people to get it done, too.
As things from that week were beginning to settle back into their normal chaos, in rolls Labor Day. The day itself was chaotic enough, but the storm really finished it spectacularly. We surveyed the damage in the dark, then went back into the house, scented by candlelight.
I started hearing chain saws around 10 pm. They were still operating by the time I finally turned in at 1 the next morning.
The kids went to school at the usual time, dressing in the dark and dodging fallen limbs on their way to the bus. The power came back on at about 6 p.m. Tuesday, thanks to the crews of linemen working around the clock.
There?s nothing like a prolonged outage to show you just how much you depend on electricity?especially when your well pump is electric and you don?t own a generator?and the folks who keep it on.
When it came time for cleanup, we depended on friends for help. Some came with equipment, some with willing hands. We?ll still be depending on a tree service to take care of the limbs that are too high for us to safely reach.
And, of course, there are the everyday dependencies: the spouse who has it all under control, the farmer who grew the food you?re eating, the mechanics, the truckers, the construction workers… everyone it takes to make our world hum along in our accustomed comfort. Just because they get a paycheck doesn?t mean we depend on them any less.
I find myself deeply humbled and grateful lately. Many of the people I?ve depended on are in the business of being dependable, and that?s very much as it should be. They have a certain skill set regarding execution of necessity. Luckily, most of them are also pretty nice folks while they do it.
Family and friends, though, are a bit harder to qualify. They?re there for you to depend on because they love you and want to help you, not because there?s anything to be gained by it. I don?t know about you, but that impresses the daylights out of me. Besides, if anyone were to ever assign dollar amounts to everything their friends and family do for them, the figure would probably rival the national debt.
If you think there?s absolutely no one on Earth you can depend on, relax. There?s a God in heaven that will be happy for you to depend on him. After all, he got me through this far!
So, don?t be afraid to be dependent now and then. Just make sure the person you?re depending on can depend on you when it?s their turn.
Shana Thornhill lives on farm near Marion. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org