My mom would wait weeks until I visited so she could say, "Would you change that bulb for me?"
Or get something down from a top shelf. Or trim her ivy.
She was short, she was old, she didn't want to bother my long-suffering brother again.
But she sure as heck wasn't climbing any ladder.
Older and handicapped people are like that. Simple things steal their independence. Example: Break your foot and ponder your front porch steps.
Not everyone has a son, brother or handy friend to call. That's where Tim Geilman, retired Marine Corps combat engineer (Semper Fi!) comes in.
Tim is the handyman for Your Community Connection's Senior Life Care Program, which helps those who qualify maintain their homes so they can stay in them.
People who think they qualify for the service can call 801-394-9456 to apply. Age, handicap and income are considered.
Tim did maintenance at a nursing home before he did this. That convinced him that someone had to watch out for these folks.
Like any Marine, Tim comes prepared. His truck carries five toolboxes and the odd ladder. He does it all: plumbing, electrical, general construction, carpentry, safety inspections, roofs, storm doors and any odd thing that pops up on visits. He checks bathrooms for grab bars, doors for screens, hinges for squeaks and pipes for leaks.
I spent a day with Tim. We swapped out batteries in smoke detectors, changed light bulbs, checked roof shingles, drained a swamp cooler and did some plumbing.
But it wasn't just about work. Tim could easily be that visiting brother or son. His smile was constant. No concern was too small. The most common thing he said was, "That's fixable."
He especially likes helping seniors. "They kind of built this community, and if there's neglect in this community, it's toward seniors. Even though I gave service to my country, I still feel I need to give service to my community."
Feeling helpless feeds a desperate loneliness. A 75-year-old woman and her 100-year-old mother live in one of the homes we visited. Tim changed the furnace filter, measured for a storm door and checked the roof.
As he worked, the daughter said, "Thank you very much!" so often I wondered if she was putting us on, but Tim said that happens a lot.
Sarah, who lives in a trailer park in Roy, needed a bathroom sink replaced.
She's handicapped, living on disability. Her brother helps as much as he can, but the sink was beyond his abilities. Tim sawed the hole bigger, set the sink in place, hooked it up and remembered "I forgot to bring you some apples. The little Fujis are ready."
She gave him a bag of Granny Smiths. On his way out, he fixed the squeak in her screen door.
Melba Pelusi, in the same park, needed her swamp cooler winterized, a rain gutter repaired, a light bulb changed and a leaking shower door fixed. I pulled the access cover to her water supply line while Tim climbed on the roof, drained the cooler and put the cover on.
Tim fixed the broken rain gutter and measured her shower door for a new seal. After changing a light bulb, he asked how her eyes were. Was she eating her carrots?
Melba's a regular customer. "You put up this fan," she said, pointing at the fan over her bed. "You fixed my tub."
"If you need anything, you've got our number," he said.
"You've done so many things for me!"
"That's why we're here."