Grace and Patience

Before you get married, you think you know the important things about your soon-to-be spouse. Remember all the intimate conversations over many glasses of wine—when you could drink without feeling like someone kicked you in the stomach and put your head in a vice? You talked into the nights. You agreed you wanted children, you promised to support one another’s career choices and be at each other’s bedside in sickness. The more wine you drank, the clearer your future, and the more you thought about the bed part. Sure, there would be bumps in the road, but you would handle it with grace and patience. Another clink of the wine glasses. Skál!

Decades later, Tim still enjoys good wine, knows a lot about his good wine, and when he purchases a case from Total Wine, he looks content and engaged. Buddha man. He treats his bottles of wine with greater care than he did his toddlers. I have no memory of him stroking them down with a soft cloth before putting them to bed.

Looking back, the days of handling everything with grace and patience, they evaporated before the ink on our marriage license dried.  It’s especially so when the Misses of the house is sick.

Last week, was week two of my illness of the decade.  With nothing to do but shiver and cough, I start watching hubby’s activities. When he takes inventory of his wine bottle collection, I ask him, “Did you forget that I can’t drink wine?” Not sure why I asked that, but right away I forgive my feverish mind. When he doesn’t answer, I ask again, “Do you remember all the fun we had when I could drink wine?”  His contented look is erased, and I feel a bit better.

I read on that it’s inevitable that at some point, the person you singled out, made special enough to share your life with, fails to function as a cover up for our own pain, discontent, and unhappiness. The ego projects our discontent onto the other person. Good grief, why do I read this stuff? Enough of this nonsense.

Drained of energy, I curl up in bed irritated that the sun keeps shining. What’s with Florida? How about a few dark, cloudy days?  Tim is full of robust health, good humor, and on a mission to fix me.

Adjusting the blanket around me, he says, “Hon, are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” This is what women say when they need their spouse to disappear.

“You don’t sound fine.”

I let out a loud sigh that means, if you don’t leave, I’ll be less fine and will make darn sure to take you down the rabbit’s hole with me.

One afternoon, after a painfully long coughing spell, I tell him that I think I’m spitting out pieces of my lungs. I tell him that my chest is on fire. Not sure which is worse, chest on fire or spitting your lungs out of your body.

“You are not spitting out your lungs,” he soothes, “but you need to sit down on the couch and just relax. Give your body time to heal. Your body is exhausted.”

Husbands should never, never, never tell their wives how to feel or what to do. Another thing, don’t use logic. Sick women hate logic. Women are also not fond of being told to relax or told how their own body is feeling.

Finally, catching my breath after a cough attack, I tell Tim, “I don’t intend to end my life as a quiet old person worrying that I’m bothering people.”

Tim says, “I don’t think you have to worry about that.”

“And just for the record,” I’m picking up steam, “Our children will not be able to say, ‘My mother suffered quietly. Faded into the sunset without a whimper.’”

As pink returns to my cheeks, my thoughts go to the people who are caretakers to ill or dying loved ones. Nobody can fix their struggles anymore than Tim could put me together again. My flu compared to their challenges is a streetlight to the sun. But this life’s episode was a solid reminder for both of us to enjoy the rest of our healthy days.