Whatever’s Easiest

“Whatever’s easiest” was a phrase Jim and I adopted during his illness. Dealing with cancer—doctors, nurses, treatments, etc.—was hard enough, so when we had choices, we chose whatever was easiest.

That phrase came to me recently when the battery in my car died. I had just made my last shopping stop before going to meet a friend. We had plans to go to an art fair for the afternoon and then I was cooking supper. I turned the key in the ignition and after a few clicks, nothing.

Fortunately, I have AAA roadside service, and this is exactly the moment when I am deeply grateful for it. I called and after a relatively short wait (I once waited for three hours for a tow truck in downtown Philadelphia, so I have some perspective here), the truck arrived and the operator confirmed the problem was my battery. He jump-started the car and then told me he had a replacement battery in his truck if I wanted to purchase it then and there.

My battery was five years old and after four rather balmy Philadelphia winters, it had survived the polar vortex of last winter in Michigan. I was not surprised that it had died.

I asked how much it would cost, and it sounded like too much; but, in that moment, “whatever’s easiest” popped into my mind. I could imagine getting home with a recharged battery that would be dead by morning or driving to a store to buy a battery (it was Sunday so my regular mechanic was closed), but that could take a while and would probably mean missing the art fair.

So I bought the battery and ten minutes later, I was happily on my way with the battery incident behind me.

While Jim was sick and after he died, I kept saying I wanted to remember the lessons I learned while caring for him. I am glad this one stuck.

Life, even without cancer, can be hard enough. A dead battery could become an event—or I could choose the easiest route to getting it fixed.

I am grateful for the lessons I have had on prioritizing what is important and for the resources to be able to make choices; life is too short to waste time and energy on a car battery.


14 thoughts on “Whatever’s Easiest

  1. annemarielom

    I’m glad you wrote this piece, Madeline! So often we think something has to be difficult in order to be beneficial. I am a firm believer that “easy” is good whenever possible and you treated that concept so well. Thank you for your postings.

    1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

      Thanks Anne Marie, I tend to be one of those people who thinks that the easier something is, the less beneficial. While taking care of Jim, I saw the falsehood in that belief and practice appreciating the easy things in life.

  2. Kim Bryan

    I love this! It helps me to remember that the most important thing is not that I got the best deal but I made the best decision for that situation. I find myself not shopping around and just doing the expedient thing so I can spend the time with my daughter!!

    1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

      Kim, I think it is so easy to get sidetracked by things that don’t matter, but that take lots of time, energy and attention. Spending time with your daughter–what could matter more than that?

  3. Maria

    Madeline, Thanks for this. Since Fran died, I’ve been wavering about moving or staying in my home. I love my house, but it’s a little too much for just me to take care of. So, I found a handyman and someone to help with the gardening and lawn. Now I feel more comfortable and less stressed. As you pointed out, I’m happy that I, too, have the resources to do this.

    1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

      I appreciate the wisdom of not making major decisions for a year after great loss. I know that I am able to see more options now than I could a year or so ago. I am glad you stayed in the house, even though it was a bit overwhelming or stressful–and that you can see other ways to make it work.

  4. Patricia Carleton Boccella

    that is precisely why I buy butternut squash already peeled and chopped. Who feels like spending time doing it yourself. Thanks, Madeline, for your posts. I always love to read them.

  5. Madeline Bialecki Post author

    I think our culture has some kind of built-in expectation that we do whatever is most difficult and when someone takes the easier route, it is seen as a weakness. Since I posted this, a number of people have told me of times when they chose the easier way, and they say it with defiance–as if they had to be ready to defend their decision.


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