Sunday, February 3, 2008

Perspective is a good thing to have....

I've mentioned before about my friend Anita, who lost her husband of 28 years back in December. Joe (her DH), was a Vietnam vet, and for as long as I've known Anita, he never had a job. (In retrospect, I realize that he also probably had some mental health issues, but all I ever really saw with my own eyes was that he didn't work, and he drank a lot of beer.)

I remember back when I first met Anita, she was so short of cash all the time, she would work any extra hours she could, and she was very frugal. When I met her, she had just bought their house for $60,000 (a pretty big sum, considering that I bought my first house a year later for $35,900). For quite a while I didn't realize that Joe didn't work. When I did come to know that, I assumed that it was temporary. As I watched Anita struggle, and scrimp and save, I realized that Joe wasn't going back to work, and that somehow, Anita had managed to accept this (at least on some level).

As Anita and I got to be better friends, once in a while she would make a little remark about Joe not working, kind of like "Well, I got a new bookshelf two weeks ago, Joe said he'd put it together, but it's still sitting in the living room in the box...you'd think with all the time he has, that he could at least get around to that..." But that was the closest she ever came to complaining about him....she didn't rant about him at all, as opposed to the way I rant on here about my own DH.

Anyhow, when we still were thinking that Joe was going to recover from his cancer, my DH had stopped working, and somehow I mentioned it to Anita, although I try not to let too many people know what's been going on. When she seemed saddened by the fact that DH wasn't working, I told her that I knew she had done just fine even with Joe not working, and if she could do it, so could I. She made a comment that basically (to paraphrase), said: "it's a really sucky situation to be in." I was kind of surprised, because I had been friends with her for 17 or 18 years at that point, and it kind of seemed to me that she would have accepted Joe not working by then. But I didn't dwell on it too much, he was sick at that point, and he wouldn't have been working no matter what.

Joe passed away in December. Anita talked to me a little about the life insurance money, and about how she was spending so much less on health insurance now. I wasn't sure what she was getting at, so I didn't add much to the discussion. I remembered how broke she had been for so long, and I was happy that she was not struggling financially as much as she had in the past.

A few days later, she was talking about some of Joe's hospital bills, and again she touched on how she has a lot more money now than she did before (when Joe was alive). She told me that they went out to eat a lot more when he was well, and of course, she bought his cigs and beer, and she gave him $25 a week in spending money, too. Since this was the second time she had brought up how much better she was doing financially, I figured it was safe to comment. Probably not a etiquette-wise decision, but sometimes my mouth overrules "what should be appropriate".

And I said something like this: "It must be a relief to have some money in your pocket and not have to worry about your finances so much."

And she got a really sad look on her face and said something like this: "Yeah, but it's nice to be able to share money with someone, too."

When she said that, I thought about DH, and realized that in that sense, she was absolutely right. I still love him very much. (I would like to divorce "That Guy", but he's kind of like extra baggage that comes along, so if I want DH at this point, I have to have "That Guy" once in a while, too.) When I think about the things that are important to me in a husband, I never wish I had done something differently (i.e., married someone else, or not gotten married at that time, etc.), I always think of DH and how he was when we were dating, and how the first several years of our marriage was, it was a dream come true. And I never wish for anything different except for "That Guy" to go away, and for DH to recover from his illness. I don't mind sharing my money with him, I don't mind working so hard because of all this stuff that has happened, and I know I would be very lonely without him. And Anita's words kind of hit home with me, and reminded me of that fact. I do love him, in spite of it all, and I hope that someday we will both be able to look back at all of this and marvel at how we ever made it....


Joann said...

sounds like you have realized how much you do love your husband, & life just would not be the same without him even in these trying times. GOOD LUCK !!! My prayers will be with you