As many of you may have guessed, I usually pen these essays a few days in advance of Wednesday. That’s because I don’t always know what I want to say, or what I’m going to say and it sometimes takes me a while to come up with just the right topic. But sometimes, writing them ahead is a good thing in and of itself. Sometimes writing the essay allows my mind to go to a happy, happy place. Well, for a little while, at least.
Such is certainly the case with this particular essay which I wrote last Saturday.
If all has gone according to plan then, as you read these words, my beloved will be at his place of joyful employment. Please don’t misunderstand, or worry: There is no doubt of his having a job—thankfully he still has the same job as he’s had these past 35 or 36 years.
This is just me, writing while he is still HERE and not THERE and counting down the days that are left.
To his credit, during these past two weeks while he has been home with me every single day, he did not hang over my shoulder and pounce back and forth like an Odie dog on drugs (as he has in the past), asking, “Whatcha doin’? Wanna do something? Wanna go somewhere? Do ya? Do ya?”
In fact he hasn’t really done much of anything at all, unless you count keeping his chair from defying gravity as “something”.
My husband has many fine qualities and y’all know he’s the love of my life. I suppose there really is only one person to be blamed, here, for the situation in which I find myself, and that is me.
I have spoiled my husband instead of kicking his ashes and making him do stuff around the house, all these years. Now, he told me before he began this two week time off that he intended to help out and “do stuff”. In fact, he told me I need only focus on my writing and making dinners, and he would do the rest.
So you see, the problem isn’t that he’s unwilling to “do stuff”. The larger problem is he doesn’t see the stuff that needs to be done.
He doesn’t see the clutter on the coffee table, the scatter of clothes (his, of course) around the living room, the empty coffee cup from the day before (also his) sitting in the humongous flower pot belonging to the yucca, or the high density of lint and fluff and debris on the living room carpet.
He doesn’t see that the bed is askew, with the sheet and duvet half on the floor. He doesn’t see his pile of laundry on the floor on his side the bed that is blocking the heat vent.
He doesn’t see the clutter on the bathroom counter, or that the bathroom mat needs shaking out or the fact that the sink could use a good cleaning.
He doesn’t see the dishes piling up all over the damn place, or that the kitchen garbage needs to be emptied. In fact, he can jam stuff in there, be unable to close the lid, and still not see that!
He doesn’t see any of the dozens of things needing to be done, at all. And he knows he doesn’t see any of them.
His first day off from work, (December 14th!) he promised me that he would be the “house bitch”. That is to say, he promised that all I would have to do was cook (he hates that and I would never dream of asking it of him). Come to think of it, my daughter also promised to have him over to her house for a day or two so he could do things for her as well—and she didn’t follow through, either.
But I’ve learned something important these past two weeks. I now know exactly what Mr. Ashbury thinks of what’s involved in being the “house bitch”, my traditional role: he thinks I do only one task a day!
It’s true! Following his directives to “tell me what needs to be done because I can’t see it,” he dutifully does whatever I point out to him—vacuuming, dishes, whatever. [I must here admit that he has on about three occasions actually vacuumed or swept a floor without my urging. A miracle!]
Then, after that first task is done, I say to him: would you please do this (fill in the blank). He looks at me, his eyes wide and filled with shock, and though he does not say it aloud I know he is thinking, “But I already vacuumed!”
I’ve not yet tried to suggest a third task to him, as clearly, this might prove to be too much for the old dear.
Yes, Mr. Ashbury is a very spoiled man, and if all has gone as I have prayed, then he is at this moment, as you read these very words, THERE and not HERE.
And I’m spoiled too, because I like having my house to myself. I like my routine of multitasking each day [performing a combination of writing and numerous housekeeping chores around the house] in a rhythm that is peaceful, solitary and mine.
But friends? The experience of these past two weeks does not bode well for Mr. Ashbury’s eventual retirement from the work-a-day world. No, it doesn’t bode well at all.