• Toni O'Connor

Adventures at Home

Updated: Jan 12, 2019


This first ran in The Winchester Star on August 8,2016.


I don’t think I would have made a good pioneer.

My college roommates Marsha, and Dee, and I used to discuss whether we would have been hardy pioneer stock. Dee, a Jersey girl, didn’t think she would make it. Except for the farming part. She had a green thumb.

Marsha and I both thought we could have been candidates. At least a few times a year we loaded up the tents, camp stoves, sleeping bags and other gear and headed out to see the good ole’ USA. Two summers we spent at least five weeks going north and west. Granted, we didn’t travel by covered wagon.

Even so, a bath house was generally nearby. And in those days, a pay phone. Marsha did have a little meltdown the year we backpacked into the Shining Rocks Wilderness in the Pisgah National Forest of North Carolina with some friends we had gone to college with. No creature comforts anywhere near the top of that mountain.

All in all, I felt the most likely to have been able to function as a pioneer woman. The most likely to handle the demands of that life and the solitude.

Not so, as has been proven to me this past month.

Kidney transplant patients can’t do much initially. They have virtually no immune system while building up a tolerance for the new organ. This means no crowds of well-wishing hand shakers and huggers. Bacteria could be lurking!

In addition, there is no lifting. Lifting is restricted to less than 5 pounds. A gallon of milk, we were told by nurse Maya, weighs 8.7 pounds. Who knew? I have often told my husband that one of the only reasons I married him was to have someone to carry in the groceries. So much for that!

Consequently, most household tasks are falling to the other resident of the house. And I don’t mean Bailey. (The dog).

In the past month it has really struck home my need to be a social animal. I imagine many of you suspected this already. There is also that wanderlust thing going on. So those thoughts of being hardy pioneer stock seem to have faded. In fact, no one could have probably kept me on that farm unless I was tied to a stake.

For example: cooking three meals a day is actual work, people! It also requires a type of creativity that has been lost to me in the last ten years of a restricted diet. Plus Rachael Ray has no worries from this address.

Yard work falls mainly in my court right now as well. And Mrs. O’Connor does not like to dig in the dirt. Nor is she good at it. Thus, the case of raging poison ivy for the past two weeks. Just for the record, lots of plants have three leaves…

As for the grass,

our neighbor, Betty Wymer, and I were given lessons for the riding mower the Saturday before surgery. We assured Adrian that we could handle it. (I wasn’t allowed to learn how to use it before, as he thought I might have fun on the riding mower and he would be stuck with all the push mowing. His idea of fun and mine are vastly different.)

After the lesson Betty and I decided to treat that particular task as if it were Tom Sawyer’s white-washed fence. So far, so good on that one.

Driving is also out of the question for Adrian. There are two days a week featuring early blood work and one day a week back to UVA. That isn’t so bad except that every time we leave Charlottesville it rains. And rains. And rains.

So there are a lot more dishes to load and unload (three meals a day,) a lot more laundry (poison ivy,) and a lot of chauffeuring, but at least I don’t have to heat the water, chop the wood, make the soap and hitch the wagon. All in all, not a bad gig.

Oh, yeah, and one other thing I have taken on…a deadline!

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