Putting a smile back on Bob's face

Susan Manzke
Bob and Russ going for a ride.

During December, January, February, and early March there wasn’t a lot that put a smile on my husband’s face. His body ached, our winter weather was terrible, and the only time he got out of the house was to go to see his oncologist.

I do have to amend that statement. There were times during those months when Bob smiled. Any time family visited, he smiled, mostly when any of our grandchildren were here, playing in the living room. Many times the toys that came out of our toy corner included the army men Bob played with when he was a child. Seeing another generation line up those plastic soldiers brought back many memories.

Other times that Bob smiled were when gifts of food came to our table—Bob especially enjoyed the coconut cream and banana cream pies. Those came his way when he was losing too much weight. Now that his weight has stabilized, we’re taking it easy on having too many pies … darn.

The other day Bob mounted our steps to the second floor. Daughter Rebecca was behind him. Her presence gave us both confidence that day and also allowed another trip up when it was just the two of us. The steep old farmhouse staircase gave me the jitters. I kept a close eye on Bob and luckily he did fine.

Today, Bob really smiled. It was his first time getting out of the house without seeing a doctor. Our son, Russell was visiting again, and this time he brought supplies to start building the mounting cage onto Bob’s zero-turn mower.

The sun wasn’t shining, but it also wasn’t raining … yet. Though others were wearing jackets and sweatshirts, I made sure Bob was wearing his heaviest winter jacket. He also wore gloves because his fingers get cold very fast.

I got my own warm coat from the hallway so I could join them. When I turned around Bob and Russ were already down the stairs and out the back door. Russ had gone to the shed earlier and started our cart. This would be the first time Bob had sat in it since last fall.

Bob needed a short step set next to the cart so he could get up without any trouble. Soon he was settled in the passenger seat and ready to ride.

Russ using his dad’s old chop saw.

Russ was starting to pull away while I was struggling to get my cell phone out of my pocket. I waved him down so I could take a photo. After I got two shots snapped, they were on their way to take a spin around the buildings.

It was in our machine shed that Bob pointed out two metal sawhorses he had made decades ago. “You can use those, Russ,” said Bob. “Then you won’t be working on the floor.”

The metal Russ would be cutting for the mower mount was only 1 ¼”, a lot smaller than the sawhorses. Russ also brought the chop saw to the garage and a few other tools he would need from his dad’s stash.

Russ put boards over the sawhorses to give himself a sturdy table. All was set to go to work. Bob continued to oversee.

I kept an eye on my husband, knowing he has a tendency to overdo when he’s having fun. At first, he was standing and watching. I brought out his high folding chair making him more comfortable.

Bob watches as son, Russ, works on making modifications to make Bob's for lawnmower more accessible.

In the afternoon, two men came by to look at some parts Bob had for an old tractor. Bob traveled around on the cart but also walked some in the barn with them. He used up the last of his energy visiting after the sale.

All in all, it was a good day for all of us. Later, Bob fell asleep after supper.

Hopefully, there will be many more good days in the future. Bob says he is optimistic and so am I.

Susan and Bob Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;