My aunt Hazel used to say, "I just go a-fightin' all the time."
I know what she meant.
This morning I had several things I planned to do after my husband left for work. Shop for groceries. Pick up dry cleaning. Call my sister. Split a few atoms.
The usual stuff.
I wanted to get it all done by noon and spend the rest of the day working on a novel I ought to have finished years ago.
Over coffee, my husband said he had to be at work early for a meeting. He thought that would make me offer to pack his lunch for him while he took a shower.
He was right. He padded off to the bathroom singing and I started rummaging in the fridge for leftovers. We'd had gnocchi the night before. I was sure we had extra, but couldn't find it. I was about to go ask him if he'd eaten it when I heard him yell.
It was the kind of yell that says something bad has happened. And usually, it involves blood.
I made it from the kitchen to the bathroom in two seconds flat. And there he stood, the man of my dreams, with water gushing over him, holding the faucet handle he had somehow broken off the wall.
I wish you could've seen him. Well, not all of him. Just the look on his face. It reminded me of the night we went for a walk and a bulldog jumped over a fence and bit him on the arm.
This time there was no blood.
"I need a screwdriver!" he sputtered, "or a wrench!"
Actually, what we needed was a plumber. But first we needed to shut off the water. I grabbed my laptop to search for a phone number and he got dressed to go out and find the water main.
Somehow, I recalled the name of a plumber we'd used years ago. I dialed his number and prayed he hadn't retired.
Mario answered, God bless him. He was on a job across town, but he could be at our place in about an hour.
I kissed him through the phone. Then I ran out to find my husband kneeling prostrate over the water main as if in prayer.
"Spiders," he said, pointing into the hole. "Black widows."
"Oh my," I said, stepping back. He pulled on gloves and reached in to grip the lever. It didn't budge. Not even a little. And it was almost time for his meeting.
"Go," I said, "I'll figure it out."
So he left and I stayed to figure it out -- with a little help from my new best friends, Mario and his brother Rico, and the lovely woman at the water district office who took my call and sent someone to shut off our water.
After they left, I hooked up a hose to drain the water heater. (Mario said it should be drained twice a year and the last time we had drained it was never.)
By then it was afternoon and I was starved. So I grabbed lunch, picked up the dry cleaning, got groceries, came home and put it all away. Then I called my sister. She's been under the weather. I thought the shower story would cheer her up. It did. We laughed so hard we had coughing fits.
Next thing I knew, it was time for dinner, and I still hadn't spent a minute on the book.
Life is often measured by major accomplishments -- awards won, fortunes made, creative works completed.
But it's lived in the smallest of moments -- in the everyday, ordinary efforts to take care of our homes and our things and ourselves and those we love.
That's the stuff of life. There is nothing more important.
My mother didn't finish high school. She waited tables and worked in a mill and spent her life caring for her family. I couldn't be prouder of her.
I will finish that book, Lord willing. But if I'm remembered, I hope it's for this: I adored my children and grandchildren; I stood by my husband in his time of need, breaking showers or battling spiders; I was grateful for angels posing as plumbers; and once in a while, I managed to make my sister laugh.
I could do worse.
Every day, we go a-fightin'. The best we can do is take it as it comes and try to figure it out.
Sharon Randall is a columnist for McClatchy-Tribune News Service (www.sharonrandall.com).