Truth in a Weedwacker

Truth 1: I had never used a power tool to cut the grass at my house (up until this week).

Truth 2: I worked 2 (or was it 3 summers?) as a city worker cutting the grass using only power tools.  

Truth 3: I own some kind of fancy weedwacker that has hung in my garage for over 2 years now.

When I read the above statements I think they sound ridiculous together. It really makes no sense. I have a perfectly fine tool and am more than capable of using it but I let it just stay there untouched. But those are the facts and that’s how it has been. I guess I’ve let it be difficult.

When Mike and I lived together he cut the grass. I occasionally used our push mower but rarely since it was his domain. It was never that I couldn’t do it. I think it was more a play on how we felt like we were “playing house” in our happy little world. He decided to take it on I think in a mimic of a traditional old school male role. About a week or two before he died he bought this fancy weedwacker thing. He showed it to me with pride explaining the features. We joked about us being real adults and “making it” since we now owned this thing. He said, “okay, I’m going out to cut the ol’ grass honey” in this joking voice (he never really called me honey) and out he laughed.

2 days before he died he cut the grass. He left heaps of all the wet green grass on the weedwacker as he hung it up in the garage. Shortly after he died, the weedwacker taunted me. The grass on it was still green and the work was still fresh but he was gone. It just didn’t make sense. I couldn’t process it. He was just there. The grass on the weedwacker proved it.

I left that weedwhacker there. Maybe it showed how recently he had been here or maybe it reminded me of the life that was ripped away from both of us. He was gone with the idea that we’d made it and done it together. Hung up was the idea of playing house. The happy little world was finished. I couldn’t bear to move it nevermind use it!  The grass dried in place on it. I carefully walked around it so I didn’t disturb the grass in any way. A year and 2 years later the grass was no longer green at all. It was yellow, clumped and dried; no longer resembling grass. But it was still together and untouched. Nothing had fallen. It was preserved. That little tiny piece of fantasy that I so shortly got to live stayed hanging there. That little idea that I couldn’t  or didn’t want to touch it and “ruin” it stayed with me. I refused to let people wanting to help use it to cut my grass, I let my neighbour cut my grass with his tools and I struggled to use just the push mower, the one I had used previously, to maintain the yard.

However, since then that neighbour has moved, the push mower can’t handle the length of the rapidly growing spring grass and my yard it left looking like Jumanji. Last week I eyed the weedwacker. I thought about it. I felt sad for the fairy tale of being able to play house with Mike. I remembered our funny conversations about it and the last time he hung it up. But I also saw it differently. I saw the grass starting to loosen its grip and wanting to fall off. I saw a past that still remains untouched as a happy little world that the two of us resided in. That does not change but that is not now. I saw a tool that needed to be used now to cut new grass. I knew then that I would be okay to do it.

I took the weedwacker down. The old dried grass fell off so quickly. I swept it up carefully to make sure I got it all and I wouldn’t be left holding onto that. And then I went to turn it on. It didn’t turn on for me. I tried again and again but I still couldn’t do it.  I felt frustrated and more upset. I worked myself up to this for nothing! I wanted to smash it and cry but instead I laughed. Stupid adult life mocking me! Now I wanted to be able to do it badly. I didn’t come this far to only come this far. I want to be independent.

I guess that’s one of the new things that has come from this. I never wanted to be able to do it on my own with Mike. I was perfectly happy letting Mike do it. But I don’t want to depend on others anymore. David was over the 2nd time I attempted the weedwacker and he said he could just do it for me. But I don’t want to be taken care of like that. I don’t live in a happy fairy tale and I’d rather not pretend that I do.  I let him help me turn it on but then I asked him to pass it to me. I finally cut the grass with that weedwacker. That’s the latest truth.

Showing 5 reactions

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  • Sarah Treanor
    commented 2018-06-03 06:42:20 -0700
    I love this story. That weedwacker is so symbolic of so very much. It’s amazing how eventually, one day, something that’s been hanging there suddenly just looks different… how eventually, something shifts inside us and we’re ready for some new part of living. Awesome post! I’ll remember this one for sure.

    I just wrote my Sunday post about buying a stove with my new guy, and though it was a different sort of symbolism, it’s amazing how a stove or a weedwacker could become so deeply symbolic!

    Thanks for sharing :) And proud of you!
  • Stephanie Vendrell
    commented 2018-06-02 18:01:12 -0700
    My Mike did our yard work too, albeit reluctantly…after he died I tried a couple times but I couldn’t handle it at all. I saw a yard service guy doing a neighbors yard and approached him crying, telling him my husband was dead and could he help…well, he did, all those years after Mike died I was still in that house, I never did the lawn again. I am glad you overcame that hurdle, and shared it.. I think it’s a big one for a lot of us widows, those things so many of our husbands did for us, not just completing the task itself without them but remembering them doing it and how bleak it feels.
  • Marybeth Hotaling
    commented 2018-05-31 20:26:46 -0700
    I want and need to use the weedwhacker so I don’t have to rely on others. You have inspired me to learn how to start it so I can finally do it myself. I’m tired of waiting until someone is around to do it for me. I got this. Thanks
  • April
    commented 2018-05-31 16:25:35 -0700
    Oh my gosh, Olivia, I love this post, on so many levels! I love that line, “I don’t live in a fairy tale, and I don’t want to pretend that I do”. Like so many of us, I can so relate to living in the fairy tale in the past, and quite honestly, loving it, and being willing to “play all our roles” so happily, in our happy bubbles. But it is like our rose-colored glasses were literally ripped off our eyes. And we were literally forced to realize that the fairy tale is over, and there is no fairy tale. So why would I pretend?
    I also love the way you wanted to preserve the past, by not touching it. And were so aware of what you were so carefully doing, and honoring it. So hauntingly familiar, yet in my shock and numbness, I don’t know that I would have had so much awareness of what I was actually feeling or trying to do. Thank you for articulating that all we want to do sometimes is preserve the past, and remember that they were just here.
  • Linda Tevebaugh Keeling
    commented 2018-05-31 07:38:14 -0700
    I do get this… your weedwacker symbolizes things on so many levels…..I am pondering it all now though I am 6 years out from the loss of my John.