Old Man Winter: An Opportunity for Care-giving

As I’ve discussed in previous articles, I’m gradually learning how I provide care-giving to Lisa in ways that may not seem obvious to me at first.. Our first snowfall of the season last week reminded me of the various ways in which care-giving and household responsibilities often align.

As some readers may already know, my wife Lisa is a musician and works as a music teacher. For almost fifteen years, she’s taught private music lessons out of a home music studio. This is a wonderful arrangement, to have students come to the house so that Lisa doesn’t have to travel It does have some drawbacks, however, snow accumulation and nasty weather being chief among them.

Lisa’s studio sits just off our driveway and is accessed via a small flight of descending steps that lead to the door. The driveway is flat, but lengthy, long enough to house at least four cars in a single column. Removing snow from this area is not especially difficult but it does take time, energy, and physical strength. Having reliable, safe, and easy access to the studio is an important part of operating Lisa’s business. As she has two chronic illnesses, any amount of snow removal becomes an unwelcome burden.

After last weeks’ snow, I went out to clear our driveway. We received a little more than was expected, about 3-4 inches, but still nothing compared to monster storms of previous years that shut down local schools and the government. I shoveled the driveway up to her studio and thoroughly cleared the steps that lead to the door. I then shoveled out a wide area at the base of our driveway into the street. Most folks needn’t concern themselves with this extra step, but it’s important that we clear an adequate section of the street so that vehicles can easily turn into our driveway and not get stuck when leaving.

All told, I spent about an hour clearing snow and Lisa was very pleased with the results. Clearing the driveway and sidewalks of snow may not seem like a very great thing, but my ability to manage this task makes a real difference for Lisa. Her health is good enough that she could do this herself, but the physical work involved would take a toll on her. That I can do it instead ensures that she will have more physical and mental energy available to teach for several hours. It also brings her peace of mind to know that she will not have to spend time and energy on this task before her teaching day begins.

Our winter last year proved challenging and my ability to handle this task for Lisa was important. Last season we had several snowfalls that reached 8-10 inches of snow each, some storms arriving during consecutive weeks. Snowfalls this large would have made it enormously difficult for Lisa to ensure the safety of her students and teach lessons if she had needed to handle the snow all by herself.

Not too many years ago, Lisa was solely responsible for clearing these large amounts of snow when they arrived. But I’m glad that I’m here to do it for her so she doesn’t have to wear herself down before she gets down to the business of teaching lessons. Now obviously clearing snow from our home is something that I’d have to do anyway, it’s just part of caring for your property. But I’ve learned how important it is for someone with a chronic illness to have this task taken care of so that they don’t have to push themselves beyond their limits. It becomes even more significant when that person runs a small business out of their own home and needs to earn a living.

I’m positive that it will snow several more times this winter and some of those wintry events will bring far more snow to us than what we experienced last week. Each time this happens, I will make sure that Lisa’s studio is ready and open for business no matter what Old Man Winter throws at us. It’s just one thing I can do to watch out for my wife and help take care of her needs.

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