Tag Archives: husband

2007. What to do?

(Just before today’s story! – a quick note to say that my childhood “autobiography” – Bits of a Boyhood – has been wonderfully reviewed by Iseult Murphy – HERE! She is the most prolific reader online and she posts many reviews that are well worth it. Thank you, Iseult! And so to today’s story:)

 

Francine didn’t know what exactly she had in mind when she said “I would very much like to have some time alone.” She had said that to her husband. She needed space. It’s not that he did anything untoward; it’s just that she needed the occasional break from his sporadic odd behaviour. He wouldn’t go to the doctor; possibly he didn’t need to go to the doctor, but Francine was not capable of diagnosing “what was going on”. For example, he would open and close a door four or five times before going through it. He didn’t always do that. Things like that went in “bouts”.

And that is why Francine needed to take the occasional break. This time however, things were different. He had taken his pet canary out of its cage and thrown it to freedom out the window. He had set the dishwasher going three times when there weren’t any dishes to wash. And now he was standing at the door between the sitting room and the dining room and opening and closing it and saying over and over “Come in! Come in!”

Francine consoled herself by joking that perhaps he was trying to welcome back his escaped canary.

Eventually she said, as she had said before, that he needed to go and see a doctor. But he answered (and he seemed quite normal and lovely in his answer) that he didn’t need to do that. There was nothing wrong with him. The stress was all in Francine’s head.

And that is when Francine said, “I would very much like to have some time alone”. Arnold said, “Alright then, why don’t you go for a walk?” So Francine put on her walking shoes and went for a long walk, and thought about things without coming to any conclusion.

When she got home Arnold was in the kitchen cooking some bananas in the oven. She asked him what he was doing and he said the television had said not to feed the dog raw meat.

“But bananas are not meat,” said Francine, “and we don’t have a dog.”

Anyway, by evening Arnold was back to normal. They watched a TV program together and had a normal conversation, and then Arnold went to bed.

Francine sat in the armchair wondering what to do. She honestly didn’t know what she should do next. If Arnold had dropped dead it would be sad of course but definite. Instead, everything was so “up in the air”.

2004. Innocent of murder

Well, Officer, I didn’t mean to kill him. He was my husband, after all. I dare say some married couples reach a stage where one or the other want to kill the spouse off. That certainly wasn’t the case with my husband and me.

I know we’ve had our ups and downs, but that doesn’t mean to say I wanted to kill him. Murder couldn’t have been further from my mind. As you must be able to tell from my personality, I hardly know one end of a gun from another. So it’s quite silly to accuse me of murdering my husband. His death was an accident.

Yes I know he was having a torrid affair with that cheap and tasteless woman who volunteers in the Opportunity Shop. You know the one? She wears artificial fur, and tights with leopard markings. And her shoes, when she’s wearing them – goodness me! She certainly undresses for the part. I wish she had been standing next to my husband when he was shot. I just might have fortuitously missed my husband and shot her instead. By accident of course.

No! No! I certainly didn’t mean to kill George. I wanted to fire bullets into his knees and into that area below the belt and above the knees. I wanted him to suffer. I wanted him to suffer like you wouldn’t believe. Dying was not meant to be an option. Murder never! I wanted the agony to be slow, painful, and permanent.

1933. Two deaths on the one day

Rosslyn was more upset about her dog dying than she was with her husband’s passing. Both died on the same day; both suddenly; both deaths unrelated.

To be fair, Mercury the dog was the only friend she had. He was a chow chow and had been on heart medication for a little while. His suddenly demise was always going to be a possibility. On the other hand her husband had been on no pills. “It’s a pity there’s not a pill for verbal abuse,” Rosslyn used to declare throughout their marriage; for Earl had a tongue that Rosslyn nicknamed “Whiplash”.

And so it was that her best friend, Mercury, and her least-best friend, husband Earl, both died on the same day. Who was to know? Rosslyn paid to give her husband the skimpiest funeral possible. Mercury got the works, and his ashes were returned from the crematorium in a silver-plated urn inscribed with his name.

The marriage had been a mistake. She should never have gone ahead with it. There were ample signs during the engagement period that he would verbally abuse her once they were married. And indeed she was proved right. The honeymoon had barely started when the abuse began.

It was sad that Mercury wasn’t going to be about to celebrate the wedding anniversary next Saturday. The absence of a husband at such a celebration was no loss. Rosslyn always celebrated the wedding anniversary with her dog. What else was there to do?

Goodness! Coming up this Saturday they would’ve been married for sixty-four years.

1898. The dead tree

I don’t know if you can see the photo of these two old trees. One’s dead, and the other is barely alive. My husband and I planted these trees years and years ago. He’s dead now – the husband. He planted the dead one. I planted the other one, the one that’s gnarled and barely alive. I’ll be eighty-seven this coming October.

There used to be a house roughly where the person taking the photo would be standing. That was our house. The first and only house we had. The two children were born there. It was our dream place; a lovely house, not too big and not too small, set on twelve acres of what could only be described as park land. We planted those two trees (and a number of others here and there) as part of the “landscaping” of our park. Our life was like a perpetual honeymoon.

Jude had built the house himself. And I helped of course, as best I could. I sewed drapes and did the painting and wall-papering and so on. Jude was the one with the saw and the hammer and the screw driver and the muscle. It was like a dream come true!

After the birth of the second child things fell apart. We’d been in the house for four years and we put it up for sale. No one ever bought it and Jude disappeared before any divorce proceedings began. I leased out most of the land to a neighbouring farmer and stayed in the house with the children. They’re gone now – the children. Tony’s a lawyer up in the big city, and Rachel manages a business that teachers adults how to do basic computer things.

My current house gets quite cold in winter, so I’ve asked Tony to come and cut down that dead tree for firewood. The one that’s barely alive has a few more years left in it. It might sound cruel but I’m looking forward to burning logs of Jude’s tree throughout the winter. It’s good he’s serving some purpose at this stage of my life. Apart from building the house he wasn’t much good for much when he was here. In fact he was useless. And mean; really mean. It’s why I did him in.

1880. No bucket list

How pathetic is that? Caleb had been given six months by the specialist, and he didn’t want to make a bucket list. How backward is that? It’s not as if he was incapacitated. It would be a while before that happened. The disease would slowly work its way towards completion. There was plenty of time to write a bucket list and see the list come true. Provided it was practical.

But no! Caleb would have none of it. “Why on earth would I want a bucket list?” he said to his wife, Leticia. Leticia had been the one who carped the most about his creating such a list.

Why don’t you climb that mountain? You’ve always wanted to.
Why don’t you go to visit the Soda Factory Museum? You’ve always wanted to.
Why don’t you take up golf? You’ve always wanted to.

It seemed that Leticia had made out a bucket list for him. Of course, it was her way of coping with the impending doom that waited down the track. She was doing her best, and perhaps some of these things on the list they could do together – and for the last time. Perhaps they could make a few more memories.

In the end, Leticia won the day! Together they climbed the mountain, both physically and figuratively. “It was very satisfying,” said Leticia. “We’re both feeling pleased with ourselves! The view from the top was stunning. And such a happy memory!”

Together they went to the Soda Factory Museum. “We’ve always wanted to do it,” said Leticia. “It’s so silly really, because the Museum is just down the road. Only twenty minutes away by car. So at last we’ve done it and it was fascinating to understand the history of soda manufacturing.”

Together they played golf. In fact Caleb and Leticia went to the golf course once a week. It was a measure of Caleb’s health and strength. At first they played eighteen holes; later, fifteen holes was enough. Still later it was nine holes; then four. After that, they never went again. “But it was such fun,” said Leticia. “It was something we did together that we both enjoyed.”

The sad day arrived. Caleb passed on. No matter how prepared one is for the death of a spouse, it’s never at all like one imagined.

Cleaning out his things Leticia came across a small piece of paper tucked away as a bookmark:

My bucket list:
To make Leticia happy.

1845. To find someone nice

Destiny said she didn’t marry her husband’s job; she married her husband. Quite frankly, she hated her husband’s job; cows, cows, cows. All he did every morning was milk cows. All he did every afternoon was milk cows. Was there ever time off?

Roman was doing his best. He’d grown up on a dairy farm. Dairy farming was all he knew. He’d worked hard throughout his teens. His father left Roman the farm. He built a special house on it for his widowed mother. He met and married Destiny. That was about his life.

Destiny didn’t merely love Roman; she fell in love with the prestigiousness of his habitation. How wonderful to live on a farm! How wonderful to have all this space! A house! A garden! Some chickens! A pet calf for the children when children came along! Fresh milk! All her friends married labourers of one sort or another; plumbers, carpenters, truck drivers. They lived in hovels in town. She lived in a mansion; more of a manor. She alone had married into proper bliss.

Can’t you take some time off so we can get away? asked Destiny.

The cows can’t not be milked.

Pay someone else to do it.

We can’t afford to do that yet.

Since a while Roman’s mother cooked one decent meal a day and brought it over. Destiny has gone off somewhere in pursuit of happiness. It’s all over. Roman wished he could get out sometimes and perhaps meet someone nice. If only he could find someone to milk the cows say one night a week.

Success! He found Ned Burton’s daughter from up the road to milk the cows on Thursdays. Betty knew the ropes; she was brought up on a farm. In fact, Betty helped milk the cows twice a day every day of the week. And on his day off Roman would give her a hand to milk. He didn’t need to look too far to find someone nice.

1832. A spoonful of sugar

Craig’s doctor had said he was to go easy on the sugar. “You’re getting perilously close to being diabetic.”

The only occasion that Craig used sugar directly was coffee. In the mornings he had two cups of instant coffee, black, with a heaped spoon of sugar. His wife, Tracy, was the same – instant and black, with one heaped teaspoon of sugar.

Of course, Craig didn’t tell Tracy about the diabetes. He didn’t want to worry her. He ever so quietly simply gave up putting sugar in his coffee.

A week or so later, Tracy seemed to be in one of her moods. It was not an uncommon occurrence. Every now and again nothing in the world was right. Craig couldn’t hiccup without it causing a tsunami.

“I’ve been meaning to say this all week,” said Tracy. Her matrimonial corrections always began that way: “I’ve been meaning to say this all week…”

“What is it this time?” asked Craig.

“I’ve told you time and time again not to use the same spoon in the sugar as you use in the instant coffee. There are granules of instant coffee in the sugar bowl. It’s disgusting. Before long everything that has sugar in it will start tasting of coffee. Use a separate spoon.”

“I’ll do my best in the future,” said Craig.

Some lines of conversation are best not pursued – especially if down the line one is hoping to spend a little of the housekeeping money each week on a new fishing rod.

1821. Mine garden

Colin always walked gingerly through his garden. Years ago (in fact it was getting on for a century ago) the site of his house and garden was an old munitions storage during the war. Colin always imagined that one day he’d step on a mine or something and be blown to smithereens.

Naturally the site had been cleared by professionals a long time prior to his even buying the land and building a house. But the thought didn’t go away. In fact, the old man who ran the local knick-knack shop told Colin that he didn’t reckon the land had been cleared properly. There were old mines scattered all over everywhere just like this one. And he showed Colin a real live mine that he had found and kept high on a shelf out of reach in his store.

Life trundled on. Colin’s wife thought Colin was silly. “Why walk gingerly through your garden when you know it’s cleared of mines? It’s time you grew up and got over this childish nonsense.”

Anyway, Colin got tired of the constant nagging. Which is why the mine kept high on a shelf in the knick-knack store came in handy.

1786. Good Friday

Tommy had sat for three days next to his wife’s bed. Sometimes he held her hand. Sometimes he dabbed her brow with a cool flannel. Her breathing was a little laboured. The liver cancer had hit fast, but these last three days of waiting were slow.

She seemed to settle for the night; another long night.

And then the breathing changed.

And then a stillness came.

Tommy sat for an hour before phoning anyone.

1763. Here comes the bride

Vonda had spent her high school years (well, a good part of them) scribbling a combination of names in the back of her notebooks:

Vonda and Warren
Vonda and Doug
Vonda and Graeme
Vonda and Sylvester

She wondered which name combination would eventuate. Who would she marry? Vonda and…

Vonda and Kurt
Vonda and Damian
Vonda and Kent
Vonda and Iain

She would keep her family name of course. It was the word combination of first names that mattered:

Vonda and Lawrence are cordially invited to…
Vonda and Herbie made it into the finals of…
Vonda and Luke are proud to announce…
Vonda and Simon are just back from…

As it so happened, she fell in love with a gentleman called Trevor. At first Vonda thought that “Vonda and Trevor” had a nice ring to it. Both names shared the letter “V”. But in the weeks leading up to the wedding she decided that that was much too formal. She settled on “Vonnie and Trev”. So much more informal; so much more accessible; so much more likeable; loveable even.

You are cordially invited to the wedding of Vonnie and Trev.

Unfortunately what a banana skin was doing sitting on the floor just inside the church door was anyone’s guess. As Vonda entered the church she slipped on the banana skin, hit her head on the corner of a nearby pew, split open her skull, and all the name combinations in the world couldn’t revive her.