Tag Archives: marriage

1904. Marriage Enrichment Program

Lucia and Basil were a most annoying couple – and they weren’t even married. They had lived at the same address for eleven years. What was annoying about that? What riled Christian and Deliah was they had gone along to the Marriage Enrichment sessions only to discover in the end that the facilitators weren’t even married. They were full of advice as to what to do and what not to do. And they argued. In fact they spent most of the sessions spitting tacks at one another.

“It came as a shock to us,” said Rupert. “Molly and me went along to the Marriage Guidance sessions to enrich our marriage and we got lectured at by two people who have never taken the plunge. Their conduct was appalling.”

“I can’t believe it,” said Hilary of Plazaville. “Herman and I attended knowing that our marriage was headed for the rocks, and all we got was superficial advice from a couple of people who didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. In fact it was like looking in the mirror to hear Lucia and Basil have a shouting match for a good half hour.”

“Ferdinand and I were engaged to be married and we thought pre-nuptial sessions would not simply enrich the day but enrich our future as well,” said Katie. “It was hardly enriching to be told that the institution of marriage was antiquated. And we’d paid good money for the course. It made us wonder if we should get married immediately and not wait until we had paid off the mortgage.”

“I was glad, although it might seem mean, when Basil dropped dead in the middle of spouting about marriage when he’d never even been married,” said Hilda. “I couldn’t help but think that reality catches up with everyone. Seeing Lucia go into hysteria almost made the cost of the course worthwhile. At least she wasn’t screaming at Basil anymore.”

“That’ll learn ‘em is what I say,” said Fred. “All twelve of us on the course agreed before Basil kicked it, that him and Lucia needed to be taught a lesson. That’s why we applauded when Rupert handed Basil a can of Mountain Dew and said ‘Cheers! Drink this!’ And that was curtains for him.”

“We all concur,” added Molly, “that the whole incident has certainly enriched our marriages. Rupert and I are talking again, and I believe other couples have had similar experiences.”

The organizers of the Marriage Enrichment Program have advertised for a new couple to run the next group of sessions. The couple must be diffident in their relationship. And unmarried.

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.

1853. Goldfish pond murder

The murder had been a long time in coming, but it was well worth the wait. Dale’s third wife, Damaris, had tragically drowned. One minute she was sitting in a wheelchair in the sunshine reading Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind and the next minute she herself was gone – floating dead in the garden goldfish pond, wheelchair and all.

Husband Dale was distraught. “I never knew wheelchairs could float,” he gasped at the policeman. People in morning sometimes say the silliest things. Later he added something about “fortunately she didn’t get the book wet.”

It must be stated clearly from the beginning that Damaris didn’t need to sit in the wheelchair. She was perfectly well in all respects. Her visiting sister, Brierley, was using the chair because she had sprained an ankle while messing around with Dale in the garden. Brierley had gone inside the house “to have a rest and put her foot up” and Damaris was sitting in the wheelchair because it was convenient and she liked to watch the fish. Suddenly the unbraked wheelchair went whizzing into the goldfish pond, and although Damaris was a reasonable swimmer she couldn’t untangle herself from the chair.

The deed was done! It was a tragic accident. As soon as they can dry the wheelchair Brierley will be making a fast entrance down the aisle of the nearest church. Let’s hope Dale doesn’t try any funny business with his latest wife. After all, Brierley has secret, perhaps handy, photographs of Dale holding Damaris under water.

1849. Midmorning coffee

Cyril liked to have a coffee midmorning. It provided a break from sitting at the office desk. Not that he didn’t take his mug of coffee to the office desk to drink, but it was different. He didn’t have any of those fancy gizmos that sophisticated offices have. There was simply an electric kettle sitting on a little table next to a plug, a jar of instant coffee, and a jar of sugar. Anyway, there was just Cyril and his secretary.

When Ivy his secretary left for a new job, Cyril didn’t replace her for several months. During that time, to be honest, he simply couldn’t be bothered making a coffee midmorning. It’s not that he didn’t want one. It just that he really couldn’t be bothered having to wash his mug and teaspoon first. And then if the teaspoon was wet the instant coffee would stick to the spoon, and how does one then use the spoon to get the sugar out of the sugar jar?

Eventually Cyril hired a new secretary. Delesia was the perfect secretary; pleasant, efficient, capable, hard-working.

On her first day of work, around about half past ten, she announced to Cyril that she was taking ten minutes of time out, and would he like a cup of coffee?

Would he what! What a dear creature! Yes please!

That was years and years ago. This Saturday they will have been married for forty-two years.

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.

1840. Census records

How exciting it was after all these years of research to discover there were three murders in the family tree. Goodness! It had been staring Desirée in the face all this time.

Great grandfather Freddie was married to Irene and they had eleven children under the age of fifteen. During the census of 1918 Irene and her sister and mother were at an address at Brighton clearly having a break at the beach resort. The nanny looked after the children – according to the census records. Freddie wasn’t there. The address the census gave him was miles away from where he lived.

Irene, her sister, and her mother never returned from that beach address. They all died in the same weekend. A month later, Freddie remarried; to a widow called Fifi who lived at the address that Freddie had been visiting during the census.

Murder! It was so obvious. The death certificates of the three murdered women stated that they died of influenza. Yeah right! There was no inquest because every second person in that year died of the Spanish Flu. But clearly Freddie had poisoned them in order to marry the flirtatious Fifi.

Fifi was French. At least, the name looked French, which sent Desirée the researcher into a spin. She apparently was descended from the liaison between Freddie and Fifi. Not only murders in the family, but French blood! Let those who are not impressed eat cake.

Desirée shared her findings with her close relatives. How wonderful it was to be descended from a murderer with French connections.

And then something even more exciting happened. Desirée began to suspect the children’s nanny was doing a little more than cleaning up after the children. Desirée put her findings online.

History is so absorbing when people share the facts they find. The internet is riddled with such facts.

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.

1826. Knitting needling

It had gone on for twenty-seven years. Clack clack clack. Clack clack clack clack. Clack clack… Need I go on?

Dora was knitting. Twenty-seven years ago Dora’s husband, Sven, had rather casually said during the evening meal, that her pickled turnips were nice but not exactly his favourite dish. Dora had taken offence, got out the knitting needles and entered into a knitting-pout. In fact, these days there was no conversation at all. Just clack clack clack. Clack clack clack clack. Clack clack… Need I go on?

Initially Sven had relished the lack of conversation. He could read the evening newspaper undistracted. But for these last seven years the clack clack clack of the needles imposing itself upon the silence was driving him nuts. The volume was growing by the day. It was loud and demanding. It was thunderous.

Only the other day Dora had fallen asleep in the armchair while halfway through knitting a complex row. Her jawbone almost hit her chest. Her mouth was agape. Sven thought he need only grab a knitting needle and plunge it into her heart and all would be over. As easy as that! He half rose.

Dora awoke. She began counting the stitches. Where was she up to in the pattern? And then…

Clack clack clack. Clack clack clack clack. Clack clack… Need I go on?

It was Sven’s turn to doze. He never woke up.

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.