Teamwork

Mar
imageDuring a recent visit to our son and his wife in Utah, our daughter-in-law was in a local production of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." This musical has tunes which get easily onto a hamster wheel loop in one's brain, and the song "Teamwork" was no exception. "Teamwork can make a dream work, can make your dreams come true …"  (See youtube link here at your own risk of not being able to get rid of the tune for days.)

We have emphasized "teamwork" with our children and grandchildren. The photo with this post is our two grandchildren, ages 6 and 2, collaborating on this beautiful block project. I titled the photo "Teamwork."

So how does Tom's diagnosis change the teamwork in our marriage? It turns out, it changes it quite a bit.

Our style of "teamwork" in our 37 year marriage has been a "division of labor" concept--teamwork being that he took on responsibility for certain tasks, and I took on responsibility for others. There was certainly overlap, such as parenting, but generally we considered the overlap to be "helping" the other person with their responsibilities. So Tom "helped" with laundry, cooking (grilling) and cleanup. He worked mostly on the outside of the home, I concentrated on the inside. I vacuumed the house, but he vacuumed the stairs. I would "help" mow the lawn, but he considered it his responsibility. You could have written it on a "chore chart." Many visitors to our home commented on how much Tom "helped" me when we had guests, serving beverages, clearing the table, etc. I would inwardly smile (and grimace a little) over the assumption of whose tasks would be whose.

We would joke that we would never buy a "fixer-upper" or even wallpaper together, because it required too much "teamwork"--our collaboration did not always work out well relationally. We are compatible, but not necessarily good partners in projects, since we approached the task so differently. He liked going at it like a marathon, not stopping until completion no matter what, while I enjoyed taking a project management approach, dividing the task into bite sized pieces to be accomplished over time.

And so it has been until Tom's diagnosis changed our teamwork to more of the style you see our grandchildren exhibiting here. It is a style of teamwork which has much more collaboration, much more participation by both of us simultaneously. One may be the coach of the other, one may be the cheerleader for the other. I am the sole driver, so if he needs a part from the hardware store, "we" go. When we need groceries, "we" often go, me with the list, and he with the cart being such a help with unloading and heavy lifting. I used to wait by the curb for him to drive up for me in bad weather; sometimes now he waits for me with the groceries, ready to load. Most mornings, he asks if I would like him to cook something for breakfast. When we need to call about a repair, or a legal question, or even to speak with family, "we" call now, blending our voices over a speakerphone, me always the verbal one, now more frequently almost the sole spokesperson but he fully enjoying the conversation taking place.

This is a style of teamwork which has much more togetherness. I like it, frankly.

In the last month, we have successfully patched drywall and repainted, placed a stencil and hung frames on a gallery wall, and cleaned out the garage. All required a type of teamwork we wouldn't have had previously.

And so, our teamwork was put to good use again this week. We saw an outdoor glider bench--loveseat-sized--at Aldi for only $49.99. Tom wasn't gung-ho about it, but I love the relaxation of that gliding motion, and I knew it would be wonderful as a reading spot on our deck. So I asked, "How about a Mother's Day gift?" and we brought it home, assembly required. Tom said, "I will put it together for you."

So Friday morning, I suggested that we look at it together, to be sure it was good quality before beginning to assemble, and then we just began to work on it together. 10 major parts--22 screws in 6 different sizes, 8 spacers, 36 washers, 14 nuts. We took a careful inventory to avoid the comment we made anyway of "they must have not included something."

We worked steadily, reading each instruction, looking at each figure, with me handing Tom the parts like a surgical assistant, narrating, "M6-60 screw, washer, rocker bar, spacer, leg bar, washer, nut."  We were convinced near the end it was never going to "square up" and certainly never glide.

We were wrong. Three hours later (including a break to rest and re-hydrate) our new double glider was ready for service. It may have been a 30-minute process for most, it was a 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. process for us. Every part was used, no parts left over, all 22 screw caps and 14 nut covers in place.

"For, all together, a team can weather, any storm they may go through.
Yes, teamwork, can make a dream work
can make the greatest dreams come true."

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