Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Lesson in Being Human

Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I am about to give my husband a lesson in being human. At the risk of sounding like a bitch, I must tell you that he doesn’t think or behave like anyone I would marry today. Don’t get me wrong – I love him, and he loves me. But he was raised by a she-devil who was best known in her final years for being hateful and vindictive. And I won’t even go into her behavior while still raising her five children, all of whom warned me about her. Unfortunately, they all built walls around their emotions in response to Mommy Dearest.

Tomorrow I’m supposed to go away for a few days with my parrots, parakeet and dog, while several new windows are installed in our house. They’re newly-stained, and the fumes could either make the animals ill or, in the case of the birds, even kill them. Ordinarily, I’d take a bunch of paperwork and drive to northern Michigan for an R & R and visits to my two brothers and their families. No problem.

Unfortunately, this time, I am sick. Really sick. I picked up what started out Saturday as the nastiest cold I’ve had in years and has now, according to the doctor, become bronchitis. My chest hurts so badly from coughing that it feels like it’s going to explode. I’m feverish, although the fever isn’t high. My throat is killing me, and it’s difficult to swallow. And I have absolutely no energy. But mainly, when I’m feeling my worst throughout the night and into the early morning, like now, when the coughing woke me up, my heart sometimes races, and it seems difficult to breathe. I rarely get this sick, and it’s more than a little disconcerting.

Do I want to go someplace where a 24-hour drugstore, if it exists, is probably at least an hour away? Where I don’t know of a good doctor? And where I feel like if I become sicker, I’ll die alone, and my body won’t be found for days? No, of course not – the dog needs to be let out, and the birds need to be fed. But when I tell my husband that I’d like him to reschedule tomorrow’s installation, he’s going to squeal like a stuck pig.

To him, I’m strong and independent and have no needs that I myself can’t meet. So he has a history of not even considering what’s best for me, always confident that I’ll get through whatever obstacle course he sets up. And the last thing he ever wants to do is have to ask another man to accommodate my needs. He’ll protest that they have a work schedule and can’t change it. He’ll tell me I’ll be fine and to stop being such a worrier. He’d rather do anything than ask the window company to come back next week, while I recover from this scourge (admittedly probably self-inflicted, due to my lack of sleep).

In these situations, I’ve begun using a close friend’s husband as my guide. This man is the kindest, most considerate and most generous guy I know. So when I get pissed off about my husband’s sometimes selfish ways, I ask myself, “What would Allan do?” And in this case, he wouldn’t even think about continuing with the installation, if it required sending his sick wife away. It’s just not in his DNA.

It’ll be interesting to see just how much my beloved protests and how guilty he tries to make me feel. This time, though, I’m not buying it. I’ll let you know how this goes down.


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