Monday, June 17, 2013

Fixing the Dishwasher


I recently found some satisfaction fixing a household problem without Dave.

My tendency (even before he died), if something went wrong with an appliance was to throw up my hands and call for a repair person to come and figure it out. Now, I've become more stubborn about trying to figure it out myself first. I'm countering the assumption I've always had that the workings of those appliances and the plumbing and any mechanical item at all was beyond me and best left to a professional.

Sometimes, it has been beyond me and I've had to call a professional, but other times, I've been able to figure it out myself. The satisfaction and the independence of that has been surprisingly gratifying. I notice I'm not falling into the pit of despair about Dave not being around to help me and instead am seeing each malfunction as a way to prove that I'm self sufficient and more than capable. It was, of course, more fun and less overwhelming to tackle these household annoyances together, but we're not together. I'm on my own and I want to learn to handle anything that might come my way.

My newest triumph was the dishwasher. It wasn't filling with water. Instead, it was making this desperate, dry, spluttering noise when it was supposed to be spraying water. It took maybe 15 minutes searching the Internet to determine what could be the problem. The overflow valve was stuck in overflow position and all I had to do was tap on the top of it a few times. The thing filled right away after I did that. I didn't have to call anyone, take anything apart or pay anyone. Also, it avoided the embarrassment of someone coming to my house, tapping on that dumb thing twice and then accepting a check from me before leaving. I really hate that kind of "repair". It makes me feel helpless and uninformed, which makes me mad.

So, Dave and I don't get to tackle household problems together anymore and that is incredibly sad, and I am resourceful and smart, powerful and independent and can handle more than I previously believed.

I believe Dave's dying worry was that he was leaving me alone. He wanted his parents to make sure I was okay. I like the idea of proving to him that I'm more than okay on my own.

I want him to know that even if one day in the future I'm married again, I will be fully capable, on my own, no matter what happens. That I'll be able to share responsibilities and take on anything I need to on my own too.

Truth is, even if we're married or partnered and expect to live out the rest of our lives with our person, we aren't always afforded that outcome. Being self sufficient is more important to me now. I don't want to depend on someone else to help me figure out solutions. Tackling life with a partner is the best, but that can't always be our reality.

Helplessness and hopelessness has, for the time being, shifted a little to let in some power and independence. I like the idea of starting out year three with this little burst of strength and I think I'm going to try to take advantage of it and tackle some other projects I've been meaning to get to.  Or at least attempt to. Sometimes, even that's a victory.


  1. Recently becoming a widow I have found myself in a world of mess. It seems with the grief counseling I did get it just didnt help. My husband passed away with cancer and i was his full time caregiver. I have tried and tried to find help here where I live and there is none. I have tried to find financial help for cancer widows and there is none. I am at a point where I am ready to give up. When I thought I was ready to get back into the real world as opposed to my dark world I found myself in I finally felt like I was headed in a wonderful direction. I started a new job and was very excited about it. I thought "I can do this!" however the world seems to just be beating me down. I have tried and tried to seek financial help for widows but there seems to be none out there. I am on the verge of losing everything. If you know of any agencies that help widows please let me know. I feel so lost and am all alone.

    1. Michelle
      Your not alone. I also am a widow of a husband that died of cancer and was the full time caregiver. It has been 11 months since his passing.I was left with a financial burden and taking care of two and a half acres of land by myself. I have no advise for your financial problems except that at age 60 you can collect Social Security benefits. I'm five years out from that age. So I just watch every penny and as this post says fix everything I can by myself. The internet and watching others fix things is great for this. I have learned that I am very capable of 95% of fixing and repairing things. Just take your time and have the confidence that you can do it. Did you get into a group therapy or individual? Group worked best for me and finding the right group of women. I had to try several times before finding the right fit. As women we are more powerful than we think we are. Don't be afraid to try. If it doesn't work out you can always call for help. There are days when you feel like the world is against you and everything seems to go wrong. Or the littlest things seem so big and overwhelming. Take a breath and know that you are not the only one going through this and that your not alone. We are out here. "You can do it." Don't give up. We are survivors.

  2. Hey Cassie,
    Love it!! Congrats on your success!! I have fixed many things in the last 3.7 years and have done it with pride. Tomorrow I will go to Home Depot to replace a worn toilet flusher handle....Yeah!! Oh the joys of widowhood and DIY!!!
    Actually, you remind me of a funny story years ago when our furnace wasn't working. Tim went into the furnace room and fiddled with a few things then after a few minutes, announced a professional was needed. Our furnace guy arrived and with little fanfare after he simply looked at the outside of the furnace, turned the on/off switch to ON and handed us a bill for $50!! So my Tim wasn't always the go-to guy for house repairs BUT I do what I can and it feels good!! So happy to hear your year 3 has begun with power and independence!!

  3. Armed with a laptop and my husband's tools I managed to dismantle my dishwasher and clean the shredder thing. I figured it was already broken and I couldn't make it any worse. I ended up doing my "Go Mommy" dance in the kitchen when a) I got it all back together and b) it worked!

    I hate having to do this stuff, HATE IT, but I'm really proud that I paid attention to my husband and my father before him who insisted that I know how things work even if I wasn't doing the repairs. I know they're proud of me too.

  4. Before my Dave was a teacher he was in construction and traveled a lot for work – leaving our son & I at home for days & weeks at a time. Although I hated it, it was probably a blessing in hindsight, as I had to take care of a lot of things I otherwise wouldn’t have.
    However there were still a lot of things I would leave for him to fix, like a running toilet, or tap etc...

    Now when I ask my brother to come and fix something, I say, ‘SHOW ME’, rather than just ask him to fix it. (Although I can’t say that I’m eager about it. Lol!) But I’m tired of the helplessness boat I feel I’m in.

    And I do have to say that as much as I want to be self-sufficient, life IS just so much easier with a partner.

  5. Great post,Cassie! Cheered me right up. We sometimes forget the small daily victories won in the DYS sector. My Dad,and my late husband,Tom,were my mentors. They believed that a woman could troubleshoot any problem. I was the gofor,the willing assistant, and general dogsbody tagging along eagerly during each fixup project. Frankly I found it very empowering. Now as a widow,they are ever with me in spirit cheering me on. I have a very adequate library of DYS manuals and the ubiquitous baby food jars of screws and such. Armed with these and myriad hand and power tools, I'm read for battle. Now if I could only zip my little black cocktail dress without assistance......TR

  6. My husband died January 7th of this year of a massive heart attack. He was my protector, my best friend, my Mr fixit, and many other things. Last week my daughter tried to turn the water on and nothing happened. I went outside and flipped the breaker and tried the water and nothing happened. The numbers started adding up in my head of the cost of having someone put in a new pump. What if it was the entire well? Where would the money come from? I finally called a well service and the guy told me it would cost $95 just to tell me what was wrong with it. He came out, opened the well house and took one look and said "I can tell you without even touching it what is wrong with it". I asked what the problem was and his reply was "Ants!" They had built a nest in the well house around the pipe and the electrical and had gotten into the pressure switch and it couldn't get a good connection to open the supply of water. Luckily the gentleman cleaned it with alcohol and showed me where to spray for the ants in the future. He even told me to give him $80 since he didn't have to send another truck and guy out to fix it. :D Thanks for having the blog. It helps to know I have others in the same boat rowing against the tide.