Day 12: Cleaning the Clean

My brother could walk up stairs on his hands.

I am not even kidding.  The wrestlers had to practice walking on their hands  because wrestlers love pain for no reason  for balance, coordination, and upper body strength.  Adam had to take that challenge a step further.  Or a flight of steps to be more exact. 

I once remember him going to painstaking lengths to write as well with his left hand as he could with his right.  He would show me his full name written out on a piece of paper, one on top of the other.

Adam H. Provencal

Adam H. Provencal

"Guess which one was written with my left hand, and guess which was with my left" he'd say.  If I guessed correctly, he would be back at it, for who knows how much time.  And if he stumped me, he would be smugly satisfied with himself, and still continue to practice until there was no discrepancy between the two.

He was just like that.  He wanted to walk up and down stairs on his hands, and be ambidextrous, and make the world's largest wad of gum on his nightstand and pull apart an alarm clock just to see if he could put it back together and make it work using even less parts than the manufacturer.  

I really like to believe that Adam and I are actually quite similar.  I have been told most of my life that Adam and I have similar personalities and that we looked a lot alike.  He was such a phenomenal wrestler (taking 2nd in the state of Michigan his junior year) that his nickname was "Pinner."  We were just alike enough that I was then dubbed "Lil' Pinner."

But these things I just described, this is where he and I part ways.  I can't imagine committing myself to such futile pursuits.  I'm just enough of a quitter that after attempt 1,001 I would have quit, set all my pencils on fire and bought myself some dumb t-shirt that said something like "I'm right handed, and if you have a problem with it, I can still punch you with my left."  I just wouldn't do what he did, because I don't have in me, what he had. It breaks my heart when I think of what his tenacity would have changed in this world.  If his life had been lived out, what would he have solved? Or improved? Or created?  

He didn't have that opportunity.  But I do.  So, even though I don't have that grit and determination and drive that he applied to every miniscule detail of his life... I have learned that I have it when it comes to stuff that really counts.  Like, I haven't quit being a mom.  Or a wife.  I know that sounds like the barest possible, minimum standard... but, to me, those two roles are the hardest of my life, and the most important.  And when it gets really hard, I throw the legs up over my head, and I walk up and down the steep stairs of my life and I do. not. give. up.  

For Day 12, we chose to honor a woman who hasn't given up.  Tom's grandmother, or Nana as my kids call her, has had a really hard year.  She lost her husband, who she was with since she was 16 years old, to pancreatic cancer.  The two of them were adorably inseparable and they lived together and served each other and raised their three kids for close to 150 years or something unheard of.  

So, when we lost Papa, she truly lost her other half.  

In his absence, she has kept living.  She has been brave and strong and she has continued to love others and serve others without him.  But, her windows and yard have been a little neglected.  So, like the Italians they are, we cooked up an insane amount of food and pushed past the food coma to get some work done for Nana.

We washed windows...

We raked leaves... (by hand apparently)

(Ps that is my mother-in-law if you can believe that.)

We vacuumed the porch?

 (Yes, you read that right.  When I say that things have been a little "neglected" I mean that Nana must think we live in squalor because I have never in my life washed such clean windows... their home and yard is immaculate, but whatever, when the lady wants the clean windows scrubbed and the porch vacuumed, you just do it without asking questions.)

So it was a total success.  These two made a huge impact by spending all afternoon ripping that one strip of blue tape off the edge of the porch. 

The kids were a huge help.

And since I am so pleasant, absolutely nobody irritated me one single time.

Oh, unless you count that time I hit my Father-in-Law with my mop. For irritating me.(No, he's not an actual homeless person. Yes, he does steal tattered jackets from the homeless.) See? He deserved a whack.

So there you have it. Day 12. We didn't achieve anything great like, say... tricking someone into thinking we were left-handed, but I think we did our #AdamsActs for a great mom and a faithful wife, and when it really mattered, she stuck it out. 

For Papa, with love.