Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Few Words

I realized that I do not write much about Herself’s Beloved Husband. In fact, I do not talk about him often with Herself. For that matter, she does not discuss him often with anyone. She happily will recount the facts of their relationship, including the tale of how they met and began dating, or of the time they spent apart, long-distance, before they married. Nevertheless, she frequently falls silent when contemplating him. Why?

She explains that she does not know where to begin - there is too much, experienced and shared: love, longing, joy, laughter, safety, support, tenderness, sorrow, grief, loss, anger, frustration, tears, patience, forgiveness, acceptance, faithfulness, devotion. Some mundane, some unique. Over twenty years of human growth, both separately and together. There is no way to encapsulate it all within a few spoken words.

I asked Herself for a suitable quotation regarding her Beloved, and she first provided the following:

Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship… only I was without compass or sounding line, and no way of knowing how near the harbor was. "Light! Give me light!" was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour. – Helen Keller

“Is that too long?” she asked. “If it is, you can use this one instead.”

This is my beloved and this is my friend. – Song of Solomon

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place. - Zora Neale Hurston

Monday, September 28, 2009


The seasons have turned, the weather has cooled, and once more, I feel the the crisp breath of solitude and the small twinge of loneliness I usually associate with autumn. Fall is always a season of love and loss. To this end, I devote the upcoming week to appropriate quotations.

For today:

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love. - Washington Irving

Sunday, September 27, 2009

That's A Wrap

Spent part of Friday preparing for, and all of a very long day yesterday working at, the Tae Kwon Do tournament. Today, I plan to lie about doing as little as possible.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I spent some time in the kitchen this morning with Herself. Cooking always brings her solace. Today's projects: a pan of brownies, devoid of any esoteric ingredients, for the Offspring; a separate pan of brownies for her Beloved, who enjoys dried fruit and nuts in his brownies; and a gigantic pot of homemade tomato sauce, complete with sausage chunks. Now I'm hungry.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Despite the above title, I do not write much about The Offspring in particular. Rather, I write more about offspring in general, and the closing of a door.

Herself has been caught unawares by some feelings that she mistakenly thought would not be at issue at this point in her life, and I am helping her sort through them. The sorting may be brief, but must occur, and hopefully, will not be too painful.

Herself’s Offspring are aging at what sometimes seems to be a staggeringly quick pace: the first two are teenagers, and even the youngest has achieved double digits. After Offspring the third arrived, various conditions came together to notify Herself that for the sake of her health and for the needs of the present Offspring, he should, in fact, be the last-born child in the family. He is, and this family is complete. And yet, with the recent surgery that put an end to any possibility of Herself ever bearing another child, a small kernel of sorrow was found. I suspect that it had been there all along, but has been buried among the mundane aspects of everyday life.

Herself thinks back to some of the small horrors of the early years of child-raising: the difficulty of ascertaining exactly what, if anything, is wrong with a howling, pre-verbal person; the worry of being an infant’s only food source; the frustrating, nonstop activity of toddlerhood in which the child’s ability to locomote far exceeded any grain of his or her common sense; the late-night trips to the ER with a tiny someone roasting under a fever of 105. Mentally wandering through these difficult moments is enough to convince Herself that No More Children is a good thing; it’s not even necessary to reflect on the unique challenges of grade school, middle school, high school years of the Offspring.

And yet.

There is that tiny voice within Herself that recalls the simple pleasures of wearing an infant in the baby sling; of seeing the delight festooned all over a small face viewing some fascinating aspect of the world for the first time; of successfully bringing health, safety and happiness to a tiny human being. She is sad that there will be no more of those moments.

When Herself was in college, one goal she had for herself was to be a stay-at-home mother when her children were small. Circumstances did not provide this chance. While telecommuting has allowed Herself unusual flexibility, and while she is forever grateful for the freedoms it has allowed her, she nevertheless never had the opportunity she had once so strongly desired. She mourns this loss very quietly (yet I suspect quite deeply), as the opportunity will never come again.

And yet, again.

The Offspring are such beautiful souls, have so much potential, and bring such joy into the world, that she cannot contemplate the alternatives of “If things had been different…”. We are all shaped by each moment, and she and the Offspring would not be who they are today, had not circumstances unfolded as they did. So she must learn to accept that all has been done as well as possible -- and then she will be satisfied.


Saturday, September 19, 2009


I feel compelled to apologize for a rather lengthy pause this week. I have been tending to Herself.

Herself was stricken with two different complications from last week's surgery. The very worrisome fever was mercifully cooled with the help of antibiotics, and Herself was most fortunate and extremely glad to be able to avoid re-admission to the hospital. The allergic reaction (if that is, in fact, what it is - the actual cause is uncertain at this point) at the surgical sites has not abated, but is under treatment. Right now the only redress that provides any significant relief is The Blessed Ice Pack. I rotate them through the freezer for Herself, as she rests and diverts herself with numerous episodes of Stargate SG-1. I am pleased that she is finally on the road to recovery, and hope that life, and blogging, will return to ordinary schedules soon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I am quite fond of greenery. Herself is too, although she fares far better in nurturing small mammals than in caring for foliage. House plants, yard shrubs, floral arrangements, even corsages wilt promptly in her presence. When the Offspring conduct science experiments involving seeds, they warn her strenuously not to touch anything lest her curse inflict damage upon the studies. She has resigned herself to this unhappy fact, and has decided to learn to identify and distinguish different types of trees rather than attempt to keep any specimens of vegetation alive.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


We are now six days post-operation for Herself. The procedure itself went relatively smoothly; despite the presence of some unexpected intricacy during the surgery, there were no significant complications and Herself was released from the hospital in a timely manner the next day.

Convalescence is slow but as expected. Herself is doing her very best to maintain a cheerful demeanor, although her inability to move about in any significant way is quickly eroding her patience and good humor. I am certain that once she is able to walk a couple of miles or use the elliptical trainer, her outlook will improve significantly.

I am very grateful to those who have managed to provide moments of humor for Herself during this time. While it is a well-worn cliché to say that laughter is the best medicine, there is more than a mere kernel of truth therein. As the Irish proverb states: A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.

Friday, September 11, 2009


"I felt a great disturbance in the force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced." - Obi-wan Kenobi

Monday, September 7, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

In solidarity with Herself, I am also performing the "clear liquids only" pre-surgical diet today. Apple juice or carbonated beverage? Decisions, decisions. We decided to save the apple juice for lunch.

The blog will be quiet for several days while I keep vigil at Herself's bedside during her procedure and recovery. Rest assured, though, that she and I will be thinking of you, with love, and will be back soon.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I am spending the weekend aiding Herself in preparations for the upcoming week. On Tuesday, Herself will be having relatively routine surgery to remove an ill-tempered and uncooperative internal organ, and she wants to be absolutely certain that the household will continue to run smoothly while she is at the hospital as well as at home recuperating.

Today, we accomplished the following tasks: we visited the bank; went to the pharmacy; shopped for food and arranged the cabinets and the fridge; packed lunches for all of the Offspring for the upcoming week and stored the lunches in the spare fridge in the garage; cleaned the small pet cages; worked on the mountain of laundry; stopped by Herself’s parents’ house to ensure that the pool was filled and fresh flowers were placed in the kitchen, since they will be arriving tomorrow; and wrote up the daily schedule so that Herself’s parents or Beloved will be aware of the intricate dance needed to get all the Offspring to and from school in a timely manner. Midway through, we paused to bake muffins for Herself’s Beloved’s high school friends who stopped by for a very pleasant visit. Oh, and we took a small but well-deserved nap.

Tomorrow, we will ensure that all of the household bills have been paid, and will go over Herself’s work docket to make sure that there is nothing lingering that will need to be addressed. Only once these tasks have all been accomplished, will Herself be able to relax and move forward comfortably.

It is good that it has been so busy, as it has allowed very little time for worrying about the various remote possibilities associated with surgery. Even writing them down seems to be an unwise idea, as if the printed words would somehow lead to bad karma. Let us hope, therefore, that all goes well and smoothly, and that the recovery will be easy.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Behold... well, he's in there somewhere. Behold the hamster habitat, home of Snowflake, a painfully aged dwarf hamster. He resembles a zombie, with his red eyes, scruffy white fur, thin build, awkward shuffling gait, and intrepid, continued existence. I check to make sure I have seen him moving at least once daily, but otherwise I try to leave him alone in the quiet peace of his habitat.

It is important to provide comfort to all creatures, including the humble and pathetic Snowflake, so I provide more food than he could possibly eat in his remaining weeks, and cushiony bedding for his old bones. He has had a very long and comfortable hamster life, and I hope his passing, when it arrives, is swift and painless.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On Help

What is help?

The dictionary indicates that the verb, “to help,” can be defined as follows: “to give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength or means to; render assistance to; cooperate effectively with; aid; assist” (see, entry for help). Help can come from many sources, and in many forms.

What is the price of help? That is, what does it cost the one who receives help (the ‘helpee,’ as it were)? It depends very much on who is the helper in question.

Some individuals will assist primarily if they see an advantage to themselves – will the helpee then ‘owe’ the helper something in return? Sometimes these people show up as grudging helpers: they indicate quite clearly that assisting is an inconvenience but that they will help despite this cost to themselves. Thus, an obligation to the helper is born.

Some individuals will help because they see the moment as an opportunity to ‘correct’ a perceived deficiency in the helpee and show off their own knowledge in the helping arena. Does the helpee otherwise perform the requested task in a manner that the helper finds to be inferior, so that this is a chance for the helper to show the helpee the ‘right’ way to do something, while at the same time demonstrating superior ability?

Some individuals render aid in what appears to be an altruistic manner. Herself at first glance appears to fall into this category – she loves to help. Is there something she can do for you? Fetch you something to eat? Move furniture? Shuffle papers? Run an errand? Name it, and she will do everything in her power to make sure it gets done for you – and will be delighted to have accomplished it for you.

A closer examination, though, reveals that there is, in fact, an exchange behind Herself’s help. Understanding the exchange requires a look at Herself’s own attitude towards being a ‘helpee.’

Herself frequently says that she’d rather chew off her own leg than ask for help. She is doggedly independent, and for her, requesting assistance is tantamount confessing weakness. Herself also worries about encountering the first two types of helpers: she is extremely uncomfortable with ‘owing’ another, and she will be troubled by self-doubt whenever a helper suggests through words or actions that Herself’s methods are inferior. Add to that, her significant fear of encountering a non-helper – an individual who refuses to assist, either out of lack of concern or in an attempt to shame or force her into performing the requested task herself. As you can imagine, she rarely asks for help with anything.

For Herself, asking for help, or accepting an offer of help, is a confession and a dangerous exposure of the soul: it says, “I am vulnerable right now, and I trust you enough to hope that you will provide me with what I need without wounding me or requiring more of me in return.” When Herself assists another person, she bears in mind her own personal cost at asking for help, even though others may not feel as she does. Thus, the asking (or the accepting) by a helpee is already the first half of an exchange, as it has a price – and therefore, a value. It remains solely for the helper to uphold the second part of the transaction by providing the needed aid. No further obligation ensues.

Asking for help is a gift from the helpee to the helper. Accepting help is also a gift from the helpee to the helper. Neither should ever be taken lightly. It is a privilege to be entrusted with aiding another.

It is my honor to be of help to you.