Ants on the bathroom counters. Kitchen cabinet door hanging loose from its top hinge. Battery dead in the Beetle in the garage. Mineral deposits on the home vaporizer rendering it almost useless.

(I know I said I wasn’t going to write Grace Notes anymore, but never say never. You’ll see this situation requires them.)

After a mostly sunny and warmish four weeks in Arizona, I faced the above challenges after arriving home to South Dakota on the last Saturday of March, along with flooding from a past blizzard and new blizzard warnings on the way.

Plus, I took home with me a hacky cough and a need to sleep twelve hours a day, not including naps.

What to do first! If Marv were here, I would have given him the above list, and he’d have had all problems solved within an hour. But now, I’m by myself. And not feeling all that well.

The ants had to go first. Teeny-weeny black ants crawling all over both sinks in the master bath. I hunted for bug spray. None. I took a tissue, chased every ant, said good-bye, and squashed it. But where were they coming from? No clue. But my neighbor came to my rescue, told me my former owners had a HUGE problem with ants, and gave me the name of an ant poison. Off to Ace Hardware I went, came home, and no ants. They must have known I was out shopping to kill them.

The cabinet door. I know about this only because I’d opened it to get something out, and it almost fell into my hand. Getting down on my haunches, a feat by itself without supports all around, I surveyed the situation. Screws still there. Screws with that little cross-hatch design that indicates they need a Phillips screwdriver. Where to find one?

I remembered Marv had an emergency tool kit on his side of our study. What had I done with it?  Went to look. Sitting right on a book shelf, probably where he’d left it. Retrieved the right screw driver from the zippered, black vinyl case, returned to the kitchen, assumed the haunch position again, and turned the screwdriver on two screws until tight. Presto. Door hanging firmly on its hinges. I almost shouted, Hurrah for me!

I remembered Marv telling our neighbor about things I didn’t know, “She’ll figure it out,” he’d said. He was right!

The dead battery. Luckily, our grown grandson stopped by and offered his trickle charger. I have no idea what a charger called trickle means, but I accepted his offer. It was on for a week. Nothing happened. Not a big problem because I can use Marv’s Subaru. But, luckily again, my grandson came back a week later, bought a battery, and installed it.

The mineral deposits. Now what? Ask Google. Soak a cloth in white vinegar and wrap it around the affected areas. Allow to set on the deposits a few minutes. Wipe away with soft cloth. Rinse with clean water.

Google has become one of my best friends. Ask it anything, and it answers. How long do I boil an egg? Where’s the closest movie theater to my rental home in Arizona? How do I get to the car rental return at Phoenix airport when the car GPS dumps me into a residential area?

This time, however, Google disappointed. It took a week of moistening the deposits to get them chiseled off with my eyebrow plucker, so I could use the vaporizer again to moisten the air that’s helping moisten my cough.

But still not enough. I ended up having to go to Urgent Care on a Saturday. Seems a severe frontal headache had decided to join the cough during the night while I was sleeping. Having read about Valley Fever, a fungal infection that happens in places like Arizona with symptoms of cough (check), fatigue (check), and fever (no check), and what could be lethal—a headache (now a check), I quickly dressed and got to Urgent Care soon after opening. After a thorough head to toe exam, a kindly older doctor ordered a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia (none) and gave me an antibiotic for bronchitis. Told me, if symptoms continue, to see my primary and get checked out for the fungus that causes Valley Fever.

I think Marv would have taken me to that appointment. He’d done that before. Not that he stayed—he had no interest in sitting for long. But that was always okay. He got me there, and then listened (usually) for his phone wherever he had gone for coffee, for my call about when to pick me up. But without him, I managed okay, but I’m still not better, and all I can say is that I better not have Valley Fever. (I am some better, so I’m not too worried.)

So, now that I think back on these things, particularly in the light of this  nine-month anniversary of Marv’s death, I see I am surviving. I am figuring life out. I am, to most eyes, doing fine, as he projected.

But can you sense how quiet my house is when no one answers my call? Honey, I need help. I have ant problems, cupboard problems, dead battery problems, vaporizer problems… And above that, I’m sick! I’m coughing. I’m tired. And have a headache.

I think the finality of final is sinking in. But, I know Marv would be proud and say, “I always knew you’d be fine.” And I believe, along with all these recent grace happenings in my life, that his often-expressed confidence in me during his illness help bolster me up at exactly the right times.

Just don’t test me every day. Give me breathers now and then… I want to be able to pick my challenges, and bugs and batteries and hinges and deposits and coughs don’t fit into that picture.

Give me books to read. Give me books to write. Give me meeting up with family and friends, taking a few classes, going to church, and traveling here and there, and I will (hope to) be fine.

I am even learning how to buy groceries! And I just found a note that Marv, when our  little grandkids had asked who was going to cook for me when he was gone, had said, “Grandma will know how to make sandwiches and go to restaurants.” Well,  nearly $200 later, I hope to do a little bit more with my cart full of goodies from yesterday’s grocery jaunt!