Earl

Car Part Metaphors

Earl’s friends said he could fix anything with a Swiss army knife, a couple large paperclips and some WD40 (which he always had tucked in one of his large pockets of his overalls.) He was MacGyver personified. He loved to tinker with old cars. He had a little shop on his property where he spent all of his waking hours. He would also take long naps there, surrounded by his beloved car parts.

On my third visit he really opened up to me, he confessed how he really felt. This is when I learned that he expressed himself best by swearing. He said, “I could hardly get my sorry little *beeping* *beep* out of my *beeping* bed this morning, what the *beep* is wrong with me. *Beeping* *beep*! Earl was clearly frustrated about how his body wouldn’t let him do what he used to do. He didn’t understand and he was spitting fire mad. Earl was 96.

All of my adult life I have been a health educator. After quickly assessing Earl’s learning abilities I tailored what I had to say to a level that he could understand and in a way that wasn’t overwhelming. For Earl, I chose to talk about his body with car part metaphors.

I told him that parts are parts, they wear out. The parts in your car wear out after so many miles and the parts in your body wear out after so many years. I spoke of his own exhaust system, gas tank, fuel pump, carburetor, electrical system and lubrication. He got it.

Is there a message you are trying to get across that maybe needs to be delivered in a different way?

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