Fixing things

When John and I got the news his sentence would be community service, we were overjoyed. Over the coming months, we worked side by side at the Boys & Girls Club repainting interiors, working with the kids and helping out with special money raising events.

I had been a volunteer for the Boys & Girls Club before, and it was a natural fit to pick that charity to help. John was in his element as a natural Mr. Fix-it and was happy to help out an organization in need.

Autumn gave way to winter, and we both continued to log hours helping the community. We were having a great time. It was fun helping, and John didn’t mind his “sentence” at all.

Community service
Painting the Boys & Girls Club

Just a few months earlier, we were worried about how we’d get through the holiday season if John were sentenced to jail time but that Thanksgiving we spent with his family and for Christmas we managed to get both of our families together to celebrate.

Thanksgiving 2012
Christmas 2012
Merry Christmas

Everything felt so right.

For New Year’s, John took me to the beach so we could celebrate together in my happy place. It was cold but we went to the beach anyway and John carved a big heart in the sand along with our names.

John loves Loretta
January in Santa Cruz

It was all very romantic, and life was good.

John was pretty much living with me full time at that point; although he still had his apartment in Benicia. He worked with me at the estate and helped with the more difficult chores. There were 25 acres to take care of and plenty of work for both of us.

Most of the estate was left to grow naturally, but around the house was a vast lawn beautifully landscaped. That was where I’d find John on most days. He loved taking care of that lawn and took pride in it looking just right.

Beautiful estate

One Sunday in late January we found a leak in the irrigation system around the perimeter of the lawn. John dug up the area he suspected the leak had originated and found a broken PVC pipe.

Together we cut the old broken pipe out and replaced it with a new one. As John was putting it back together, I could see why it had broken in the first place. The way the pipe was connected caused it to bow, which weakened it. If left like that, it would likely break again.

I ran back up to the house where we’d been working earlier. I remembered seeing a couple of wooden landscape stakes there and thought they would work perfectly to reinforce the pipe.

Once I looked at them, I determined they were too long and would need shortening; but that was an easy fix, I figured. I grabbed the skill saw and cut the first one without incident.

The second stake wouldn’t be quite so easy.

As I held the stake in my left hand with the saw in my right, I pushed the blade through. But there must have been a knot in the wood I didn’t see; and when the blade hit it, the saw bucked upward.

What happened next occurred so quickly I didn’t have time to think; but as the saw came down, it did so toward the back of my left hand… and then I felt an unbearably searing pain in my left thumb.

Immediately pulling my left hand to my chest, I screamed for John.

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