The Power of Projects

Sondra portrait
Sondra Patton

This summer began with sadness as my family mourned the loss of my Aunt Sondra. My mom came to visit after the memorial service. The regular sound of her crying over the loss of her one and only sister broke my heart. Most days, I had to leave for work or appointments so she had many hours alone on her hands. She read, cooked, watched T.V. and helped around my house to stay busy. We were both just getting through the hard time.

Then there was “The Project.” A project, as defined by is “a large or major undertaking, especially one involving considerable money, personnel, and equipment.” It’s that and much more. Since I divorced and turned off my cable television, I’ve been obsessed with one project after another.

Truth is, I didn’t really feel like doing any projects this summer. The combination of a family death, injured knee and back, over a hundred degree weather, and a bunch of health issues drained me. I was told to rest, take it easy. I reluctantly did that, but one day while I was laying on the couch icing my knee and back, I mentioned one of my project ideas to my mom. I had a goal to make my backyard into a nicer place to hang out and to eliminate some of the dead grass. The resulting project would be a brick patio. I was frustrated that I couldn’t do it, but also a little relieved. We talked about it how much work it would be and I knew I wasn’t up for it. Apparently, she was.

project 11
The beginning… ugh.

Yep, my 72 year old mom started my project! I came home one day to her shoveling up the dead grass in the backyard. This is no easy task. The ground is an old river bed and it’s as hard as cement and full of rocks, rocks, and more rocks. She dug down four inches too. She is such a studette. Although I was very grateful for her help, I wasn’t quite ready to take on this project. I didn’t want to do it, but there was no turning back. Her desire to accomplish something and help inspired me to do what I could. At first I hired some extra help because I couldn’t stand the physical pain, but over time I started shoveling and the pain subsided. I guessed that moving was the key to healing, not resting anymore.

one project
Not quite half way there. I thought we’d never finish.

My mom would get up at 6am and be out in the backyard with a pickaxe breaking up the ground. One morning she started shoveling part of the two yards of sand into a wheel barrow with the determination to move it all into the backyard BY HERSELF. I couldn’t believe it and wouldn’t let her. I actually told her to stop, but she wouldn’t. So we did it together, all two yards!

Dakota, Mom (Lavonne Rice) and Dominic. The Team

With my mom’s, son’s and a few hired hands’ help, I’ve reached the other side of the project.  As reluctant as I was to do this, I’m happy I did. It brought my mom and I closer together and helped us not wallow in the sadness. It gave my sons memories of working together that they will never forget.

I know that I NEED projects. These endeavors have helped me get through the hard times. They helped me move to the next day with something on my mind other than the suffering. Keeping busy, working on something, forces us to advance, at least on some level. It gives the brain a chance to rest and recover from the negative, and move forward.

If I don’t have a plan to accomplish something new then I feel stagnant and anxious. Although during the overwhelming moments of the projects I may have little meltdowns and say to myself, “What was I thinking?!” I know that when I arrive to the other side, I will be on another level mentally, physically, and spiritually. In the end it will all have been worth it.  It may not be perfect, but it’s mine and it’s good enough. I did the best I could do and doing the project took us all to another place where hard work paid off and made us feel proud. We still miss my aunt, but we continue our lives and honor the time that we still have by being productive.

I wonder what projects other people are up to these days??

project done
The Brick Patios! Wahoo!