Yesterday was my 13th wedding anniversary. I was in the hospital with Tom from 7:30 a.m. till 8:30 at night. Our original plan had been to drive out East and either have a nice lunch out there or cash in on a restaurant card the kids gave us for Christmas. Instead, Tom’s been in the hospital since Monday afternoon.
We had no idea thirteen years ago that this is where we’d be. We said our vows in front of a justice of the peace who knew me from volunteer work. She gave me a lecture on how she disagreed with the public policy position of the organization. Then we did our vows. It included something along the lines of in sickness and in health, richer or poorer, better or worse. Of course, we said Yes. Who really understands what that means? Well, we were older so we were not dewy eyed innocents. We knew that life would hold challenges.
13 years is a not a long time in the scheme of things but we have really beaten up those vows; each and every one of them.
Life with both of us has been challenging. He has supported me through the death of both of my parents; the dissolution of my childhood home; the loss of three jobs and of course, my continuing physical deterioration.
On his side, his rampant and destructive alcoholism; cancer; hernia and now this cardiac situation.
Monday, we went to the ER for what we thought would be a meds adjustment and maybe Valium. Instead, a four day hospital stay with two procedures. Yesterday morning he had a tee. A scope was put down his throat to see if there were any clots in his lungs that could dislodge. He came out of that one convinced he was vacuuming the car. Indeed, when he was released today, one of the first things he has done is vacuum! Lucky me, I have a house husband. In the afternoon, he had a cardiac ablation. Fun for anniversary.
Truth be told, I don’t hold much with anniversaries. He is the sentimental one.
I never wanted to have my parents’ lives. Joke’s on me. I do. I was so frightened this week. Normally, I am your best person in an emergency and I still was calm and collected for everyone. Here’s the thing – when my father died suddenly and unexpectedly, my mother kept on saying “Daddy had a really good omelet for breakfast.” Well, you know how they say things about your parents’ deaths stick with you? Sunday night, we had had the best dinner with Justin and Lisa – good food, laughter, conversations. My mind kept on howling – just like Daddy.
Another way in which I am the same is hiding things. I am a firm believer in transparency as my parents withheld information on my grandmother’s health. I never trusted them again. I share medical details about me and T to his kids. We found out after my father died how the two of them conspired to shield us about my mother’s condition. She had dementia. I found we have done the same with my walking. It’s not as if they don’t know I have difficulties but in the house I usually don’t wear the spectral leg or use a cane. On the few occasions we have been out, they know I walk arm in arm with their Dad. They had no idea how much difficulties I have getting in and out of the house. Of course, when I am stressed I am worse. I have started to have problems with my hands. I needed help buckling my seatbelt. Everyone was great to me but I realized how much we have been dissembling.
As you know I was seriously contemplating divorce earlier this year. Financial considerations stopped me. He thought I couldn’t do it because I literally couldn’t live without him. He ties my shoes, fixes my hair, helps with zippers and buttons. As they say, “needs must”. I put on my own shoes, dressed and undressed myself and did my hair. Fed the cats, cleaned their litter. I can do it. I did not fall. Stumbled a few times but no falls. So what if it took me ten minutes to put on my macrame sandals and spectral leg and it involved bent paper clips and pliers! Don’t ask.
I know I am a control freak. I acknowledge that one of the reasons I married him was when he was in trouble I wanted legal standing. I was never one of those girls with wedding plans. I used to dream of a house and children but no man. I used to be told it couldn’t be done. I am a boomer which explains the attitude.
This week made me realize that even though I can be on my own, I don’t want to be right now. Pondering how we really did do our vows. There’s work ahead. There is a lot of pain and anger on each side.