Cross-Training–It’s Not Just for Athletes

For decades, Mom and Dad ran two businesses; a photography studio and camp patrol. This last was started by my grandfather,  who checked on summer homes, camps, cabins, etc., in the winter time. His customers, who summered in warmer states during the winter, appreciated knowing that he kept an eye on their summer places for ice damage, break-ins, frozen pipes, etc. When he retired, Dad took over.

Mom managed both businesses, setting up photography appointments, handling the finances, keeping the books straight, and also helped Dad in his photography. When he photographed families, there was usually always a fussy, wiggly kid or distracted pet. Mom, armed with several hand puppets, would capture the wiggly one’s attention and let Dad do what he did best. For years, they were a great team, supporting each other, and keeping both businesses running smoothly. Mom also did the housework and cooking, and Dad took care of the outdoor work; gardens, lawn, and, in the winter; snowplowing. He also maintained their vehicles and did repairs.

Despite Mom’s breast cancer in the late ’80s, and then again in the ’90s, she and Dad still ran both the businesses. Years later, she was diagnosed with lung cancer after they retired from both businesses. But for 25  years, Mom lived successfully with cancer, and, with good medical care, she felt pretty well all the time.

However, they both knew that sooner or later, the medications would stop working, and they made their “game plan.” They cross-trained each other—Mom showed Dad how to manage their finances the way she had done it for decades. She showed him where the vacuum was, all the cleaning products and showed him the general house-cleaning routine. Dad showed Mom who to call for what services; by then they had hired someone to care for the lawn, snow, house repairs and fix-ups, and where the cars were serviced. Mom also gave Dad cooking lessons, and today he is able to make quite a few good dishes.

When it became time for Mom to have Hospice this past September, she and Dad stepped up their cross-training. By the time Mom was bed-ridden, everything was in order, and Dad was in charge. Mom was comfortable and happy in the knowledge that Dad could manage well on his own. All this benefited me as well. I knew where everything was; necessary paperwork, documents, wills, etc.

This all was the result of excellent cross-training. Now that Dad is on his own, he is managing everything beautifully. Mom’s and Dad’s good planning benefits us all, and this is a great life lesson for the Crankee Yankee and me. We plan to follow the same training program so that we too will be prepared for anything–as much as you can  be prepared for anything, that is. I call Mom’s and Dad’s plan “be prepared–not scared!”

So, word to the wise for us all–make your cross-training plan before you need it. And best of all, you don’t need fancy athletic clothes and shoes to do it!


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