Continuing to work together - with chores and battling cancer

Susan Manzke
Susan tightens the lug nuts on a lawn mower tire.

There are times when Bob complains that he’s tired. This usually happens after my husband has been outside cutting grass. He forgets how far he has come since the return of his cancer. Bob also doesn’t like it when he feels weak. More moans come from him when lifting a bag of chicken feed. He would like to go back to the old days when he could toss bags and bales like they were nothing.

Sometimes Bob has to ask me for help. Of course, he would rather do the work himself, but many times he needs me. His bad hip makes it impossible for him to reach things that are on the ground or floor. Bob uses a long-handled grabber to reach for things he’s dropped, but he needs me to tie his shoes. 

The other day, Bob took his first solo drive to town since last fall. The lawnmower needed to have a flat repaired and replaced. I asked if he wanted me to drive. Bob said he could manage the pickup.

I felt like I was sending one of our kids off for their first solo drive. It was a relief when Bob drove back into the yard.

He smiled, proud of his accomplishment. Still, he needed me when it came time to replace the tire.

When I came out to the shed, Bob had things ready. He had brought his huge jack out for this project — I believe that jack had its origins in a railroad yard back in Illinois many years ago. It weighs a ton.

Together we set up the jack under the rear of the mower. It needed a couple of blocks of wood to bring it up to the right height. Bob moved the jack even though he groaned when he lifted it.

Soon Bob jacked the mower off the ground, but the tire lugs were too low for him. That’s where I came in.

Bob sets a jack in place to lift the lawn mower for changing the tire.

I couldn’t remember the last time I changed a tire, any tire, but having Bob there made the work easy. He handed me the impact wrench, showed me how to make it go backward and let me loosen the lugs.

The hardest part for me was switching the tires and getting the good tire up in place — I remember when I used to easily move hay bales, too. Funny how everything has grown heavier as we age.

Replacing the lugs on the tire went perfectly. This time I smiled, feeling a sense of accomplishment.

All our married lives, Bob and I have worked together. Sometimes we were working in different fields, while I disced the soil, Bob tackled planting.

These days were are still working together. Though we might not be farming, we still have chores made for two. A couple of days ago, Bob was cutting deadwood from an apple tree and I was picking up the branches.

You probably guessed that the biggest battle we do together is fighting Bob’s cancer and the medicine side-effects. Good thing we are having positive returns on this battle.

As I sit at the computer, writing, Bob is somewhere outside — I don’t have to follow his every move anymore. Thank goodness — though I do keep an eye out for him in case he needs an extra pair of hands.

We continue taking one day at a time together. We might not be doing anything earthshaking, but we value the moments we have.

FYI: we really appreciate all the kind words and prayers we have received over the last months. Your cards and letters have given us smiles and helped us come so far. Thank you.

Susan and Bob Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net.