Our Echo
Title, story type, location, year, person or writer
Add a Post
View Posts
Popular Posts
Hall of Fame


Story ID:1459
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Broken Tree Ranch Montana USA
View Comments (13)   |   Add a Comment Add a Comment   |   Print Print   |     |   Visitors


by Kathe Campbell

Old college buddies were coming to our mountain. Now when I say old, I mean old. We were all in our seventies and hadn't laid eyes on one another in over 50 years. Surely by now our faces and bodies have had minds of their own, for according to yearly Christmas cards, our lives had been like Snapdraggons. Parts of us had snaped and the rest was draggin'.

While spiffing up both bathrooms, it seemed that after umpteen years both oak toilet seats were looking mighty weary. No amount of cleaning was going to heal a few cracks which, heaven forbid, could give way leaving my enthroned darlins' mired amongst splinter wreckage in toilet water. Mercy, what an awful thought!

The newspaper advertised genuine oak toilet seats on sale for the grand opening of our new super Wal-mart. At only $7.88 each, I chose two lovely looking commode toppers.

To my utter joy, the following morning my husband, Ken, announced he had work scheduled in town. I all but shoved him out the door so I could 'plunge' into my project. The new oaken settees were a perfect match for our log house. I was excited over the prospect of demonstrating a happy homemaker maintenance moment installed by myself, with one left hand yet.

Toilet seats were the last thing on my mind the day the unthinkable happened, a brutal accident in which I lost my right arm. 'Twas more like how I'd be able to perform anything left-handed in my antiquity. The devastation and aftermath launched me back in time to devour life's mundane chores. Inventing sedulous ways to put on a bra, butter bread without it shredding, stirring brownies fearing the bowl catapulting across the kitchen floor, artfully feeding myself in public, haltering the critters, and folding clothes with my teeth. It was a brilliant start those first months in-between a few woe is me tears.

Weeks passed and my precious old lefty was being worked to the limit. It was nearly time for my first prosthesis fitting. My neighbor noted my left hand and wrist had swollen badly. I couldn't turn on the garden faucet or set the sprinkler, simple things taken for granted. The following day my doctor announced I was well into rheumatoid arthritis. Well now, wasn't that just what I longed to hear? My feminine 135 pounds would be downing prednisone and a few other steroid types to turn my carcass into a testosteronic bulging mass, like the hunks down at the gym.

I muddled along learning to use a prosthesis, a farm and ranch hook that every man in sight ran from for some unknown reason. Finally, there became very little I didn't teach myself to do. How silly of me to have been such a pitiful wretch. I had reinvented myself physically and yearned to be self-sufficient.

After gathering a dozen or so tools from the garage, I got down on my old arthritic knees to ascertain what size tool I needed to extricate rusty nuts. Not even one of my carefully chosen tools fit. Back to the garage for another handful of tools, and this time I hit the jack'pot.' Using a whatchamacallit round-ended gadget, it only took 20 minutes to dislodge the first nut off an endless six inch bolt. Nineteen years had set that nut with Schwarzeneggerian strength. After much 'grunting' and 'groaning,' I finally announced to the toilet, "I'll be back," while retreating to the kitchen for a cappuccino.

I had designed my big bathroom with a cute little niche for the commode, but overhead lighting left my work area dim beneath that foreboding cold fixture. I grabbed my reading glasses and our best flashlight, stood it on end and was happily making progress, when the phone rang. I raised myself to my knees, and to my horror discovered my prosthesis was submerged inside the porcelain receptacle helping me hang on for dear life. Oh my Gawd, how gross!

Since it was my afternoon to answer office calls, it seemed apparent I should use a portable phone on this job. I set it atop the tank for quick access, and when it rang again, I lurched and fumbled. PLUNK, in it fell emitting a sorrowful brrgggggg . . . . brrggggg. I dove in with my left hand, punched the orange light, answered, and with 'great relief,' someone from the black lagoon answered back. 'Straining' to keep from laughing aloud seemed par for the course in most of my prosthetic trials. But, I 'took care of business' most efficiently, squinting through drenched designer glasses, and taking notes on damp toilet paper.

The main toilet seat was finished and it was a splendid sight. Sir Thomas 'Crapper' would have been proud of me. Having conquered the tricks and journeyman skills of a specialized trade, I changed the seat in the guest bath in jig time. The entire project took two hours and ten minutes, and all Ken had to say was, "See ya got the new seats on," to which I disdainfully replied . . . . . "I'm 'pooped,' old man, so don't ask about dinner tonight."

And that's the way is was just a few years ago. In order to appreciate Sir Thomas' invention, everyone should replace a toilet seat or ball cock at least once in their lives. That lovely resounding and successful flush gives one such a feeling of 'relief' and satisfaction.

Have toilet seats . . . will travel!

As it appeared in Split My Side magazine some years ago.