Monday, March 28, 2011

A tucked-in shirt

4:22 p.m. Today's project was to encourage Steve to do some trimming and clean-up work around the front and back lawns, since our lawnmower needs a belt and some repair work. He loves to stay busy, but in this midstage of Alzheimer's he isn't initiating tasks quite as often. Whe he gets to work, however, his work is very neat, thorough and well done. Our property looks great! In his career as a maintenance mechanic, Steve was highly trained in safety, due to hazards from electrical and hydraulic systems, not to mention the intense heat generated by plastic injection molding machines, some the size of my living room. He often had to do repairs to the air conditioning systems on the roof of the plants, repair the molding machines, create industrial robots, repair forklifts and vehicles, and run a crew of men under him in the maintenance department. Safety and precision were the hallmarks of Steve's career. God raised him up to the peak of his career, with national recognition in the plastics industry as one who saved his employers millions in repair costs and gave advice to machine manufacturers! I love to think of Steve in regard to Proverbs 22:29: "Seest thou a man diligent in his business? That man shall stand before kings." Now three years out of the plastics industry, some of the hazards he would avoid even a few months ago, like leaving tools out or in a walkway where he or I (or the dogs) might trip over them, or even leaving dangerously sharp serrated tree trimming tools in the backyard, are something I need to look out for. He does best working alongside my dad, or for friends who can keep an orderly project going on their own property. Christian writer Karen Kingsbury has a novel in her Redemption series that gave me a clue about one safety requirement of the workplace Steve has not let go of: the tucked-in shirt. These days, except for dress-up occasions, guys of all ages wear their shirts out, not tucked in. It's even rare to see my dad with his shirt tucked in--more comfortable, easier all around. At times when we are going to church or out together, my dear husband looks sort of out of place, with a high-waisted tucked in shirt, so I show him that his shirt has a finished bottom and was designed to be worn long, outside of a belt. Other times, just around the house, it doesn't matter. I want to do what Chuck Swindoll always advised, "Don't major on the minors!" In the novel, the main character works in an Alzheimer's care home, where all were puzzled by repetitive behavior of a man who continually rubbed smooth circles on his bedspread, all day, every day, ignoring everyone. A debated theory was discovered by the aide, stating that people in dementia go back to what they used to do when they were younger, in their productive years. So the aide asked the man's son what his dad used to do and found that he was a saddle maker, who rubbed the leather in circles on the saddle! Once they knew what was happening, the family could accept the behavior and appreciate that the memory of usefulness in his profession was still an important part of him. I know that it is only fiction--well-researched fiction--but fiction nontheless. However, it does make sense. In the production workplace, shirts must be tucked in for safety, just like uniform pants are worn at the instep rather than trailing on the ground. Loose clothing is actually dangerous. Since Steve was in the workplace for 35 years, ever since high school, it makes perfect sense. I'm glad that he thinks of himself as a productive, needed and respected worker! Shouldn't we all have the same attitude toward whatever God has called us to do? Colossians Chapter 3 has a word on this subject in verses 17 and 23: Whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him...and whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. Steve and I just talked about the theory and his shirts, and he agreed. Loose clothing is unsafe in the workplace, especially around moving machinery and equipment. And he does identify with his past profession in his mind, and his clothing habit reflects it. He's learned to make adjustments when I ask him to, which I appreciate. Once again, I am so very proud of my husband, and always will be!!

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