He enters the kitchen,
his skin glistens and
the pungent smell of movement
pushed against the early morning greets me.
I am happy to see him.
He pulls me against his sweaty clothes,
so I fuss as he tightens his embrace –
a thoroughly pleasant ritual.
He gives me our subdivision’s farm report.
“I saw six Harvey* Juniors,
three squished toads
and one lizard entering our garage.”
I pat the stomach of my walking Buda
before he moves toward the shower.
Grand gestures inside a marriage are less
about flowers and candy than acknowledgement
as bare feet stand against worn walking shoes
on kitchen tile on an ordinary day.
Great men need not lead a charge or
command a Fortune Five-Hundred business.
Great men are aware,
count Harveys, toads and lizards,
recognize all joy is in the present.
*Harvey: the fictional rabbit friend of Jimmy Stewart in the movie Harvey.
Married for about three months, Ken and I allowed the stress to rise as we packed for a trip to Kansas. Between Ken’s compulsive need to pack everything neatly rolled and lined strategically in each suitcase and my strong desire to organize and complete the task before I died of old age, the loading of the car was a major challenge. Although I am a tough, independent woman, I allowed him to refuse the use of my garment bag the previous trip; so I fussed as I folded my clothes with the knowledge they would be hopelessly wrinkled at our destination.
Weary from our struggle over clothes and luggage, we had a difficult first day on the road.
Our first hotel morning I woke up to find Ken on the edge of the bed. He said, “I think I need to see a doctor.”
I immediately thought of chest pains or a stroke. Should I call 9-1-1 and ask questions later?
Ken continued, “I cannot sleep.”
Relieved that we were not calling 9-1-1, I asked why he could not sleep. I have accused him having the princess(prince)-with-a-pea-under-her(his)-mattress syndrome.
Ken said he had a paper cut from opening the mail he had picked up from his daughter.
I began to giggle.
Then he said, “I was up looking through the toiletries bag for anti-itch cream and antibiotic ointment….”
Now my laughter is rocking the bed.
He adds, “…and I could not find the bandages.”
I made the snorting noise that embarrassed me. I am out of control.
Finally, to make his misery more clear to me, he says, “And you did not help by getting out of bed to walk off the leg cramp.”
“I drove eleven hours yesterday,” I defend myself through tears and laughter.
He has the last word, “Well, my throat is sore because I talked for eleven hours yesterday!”
God help me, I love this retired LtC and his good, compulsive heart. Just call me Mrs. Monk.
I just walked through the living room to the background noise of a basketball game. Beside my reclining husband on the table I drenched in polyurethane to accommodate his known, bachelor-days habits were a half dozen spoons used for sugar free puddings and yogurt.
“Collecting spoons?” I asked. “Everyone needs a hobby.”
I took my glass to the kitchen, rinsed it and left it in the sink. I should have retrieved his spoons. In the existential, I made a conscious decision not to be a type-A freak and I let it go.
Bob gave me his I-may-not-put-my-spoons-in-the-sink-but-you-DO-love-me-just-as-I-am smile. When I neared his chair, he reached out and took my hand in passing. “Your hands are cold.”
Always with the cliché, I responded, “Cold hands, warm heart.”
Bob said, “I thought that was cold nose, warm heart.” He loves dogs, so I guess that works, too.
Now in my office, I feel happy. The ordinary days of our lives are so rich.