Atheist though I am, there are times when I look to the heavens and mouth the word “Help!”

What I have trouble doing, however, is saying that to any actual human person.

Which helps me understand the appeal of religion. There are some things you can’t quite bring yourself to confess to another human, but sometimes you just need to talk.

I don’t know if it’s the way I was raised or the books I read, but I have to go through a series of mental gymnastics in order to justify asking anybody else for assistance.

  1. Do I really need help with this?
  2. Why?
  3. Is there any way I can do it all myself?
  4. Is there any way I can fix it without fucking it up?
  5. Am I absolutely certain that I’m not just being a slacker?
  6. Am I absolutely certain that whoever I ask will not think I’m just a slacker?
  7. Am I sick enough?
  8. Am I hurt enough?
  9. Will it make more trouble for somebody else if I try to do it alone and fuck it up?
  10. If I ask for help, will whoever I ask be happy to help or will they feel suckered into it?

In the back of my head, I always feel like I’m probably subconsciously suckering somebody else into it. That what my dad always thought, anyway.

Which is why when recently I needed to do a major clean-up of my back yard, I began the process alone, walking around the yard and making a list. However, I hadn’t gone more than about 10 yards when I tripped over a brick and fell on the patio, smack on top of my recently surgeried right breast. I didn’t break anything but it did hurt like fucking hell. That’s when I remembered that my dear friend Marisande had already offered to help. I’d already said don’t be silly, I can handle this. Now I had the distinct feeling that

  • (a) even though I wasn’t badly hurt, the possibilities out here were rife for more accidents and
    (b) it had to be done in two weeks (reasons), and if I did it all myself it would take until April. 2018. Maybe.

I called Marisande.

That dear woman came over a few days later and totally organized my yard project, hauling stuff here and there in her little red wagon, putting the storage sheds in order, separating the keepers from the dumpsters, and, best of all, making a list of things that needed to be done.

I ventured outside a time or two looking for stuff I could do to help, but was told to never-you-mind, don’t get in the way. I did ask her, a bit plaintively, if she was having fun. Marisande smiled at me and said, “Sadly, Barb, I love doing this.”

I left her alone.

She must have worked at least 15 or twenty hours over the next few days, and when she wasn’t here, I was able to consult the list and find things that I could work on that would actually be helpful. She wouldn’t take a dime – she was paying it forward, she said. I said good, because I was no longer physically capable of doing strenuous yard work.

“Right behind you, there,” she told me. Which is true. About 10 years younger. So an old woman in her 70’s gets a woman in her 60’s to help in the garden. I did hire a couple of boys to do some pruning – never feel guilty when I pay somebody.

But I still have to figure out some way to repay Marisande. I think I might have hit on something, but it’ll have to wait a bit.

I should feel more guilty when I look at the yard these days, but to tell you the truth, I don’t. I just feel immensely grateful.

Thank you, Marisande. From the bottom of my heart. You're an answer to an unbeliever's prayer.