I can remember once telling my mother that I was going to run away. I was a little boy. I can’t remember what earth shattering problem lead me to threaten my mother with abandonment like that, but, I will always remember what she said back.
“Let me go get the suitcase and I will help you pack.”
Needless to say this was not the response I was hoping for. The lesson was learned. Running away from problems was not an option for me.
That was a long time ago. My mother has been gone over 30 years and my 44th wedding anniversary is coming up next week. 12/12/12 is the big day. Forty-four years is a wicked long time to be married to the same person without running away. The fact that we are together practically 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is enough to make many people ask us… “How the hell do you do that?” We don’t know. My theory is that over the years and being together almost 24/7 we have somehow melded together into one individual, with two bodies. Perhaps the only reason none of us has run away is we can’t. You can’t run away from yourself and, perhaps, that is why so many marriages fail these days. Unlike in times past, married couples spend so little time together today. Perhaps, just not enough to form the “melding” of personalities that makes it all work out. I don’t know, but, I do know this… As I (we) get older we are less and less interested in and tolerant of other people. They piss us off more frequently than they ever did. Me more than her.
I remember my wife’s grandfather. He was once Justice of the Peace in Hoboken, New Jersey. He didn’t have a tooth in his head when I met him. He was so afraid of dentists that he had, one by one, pulled them all out himself with pliers over the years as they went bad. He hated Ed Sullivan. He called Ed Sullivan a “God Damn Jew”, but, he NEVER missed “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Sunday nights. He would sit in his chair chewing peanuts with his rock-hard gums and say, “Listen to that Jew“. When I was dating my not-yet-then wife he would always ask me to come out to the garage to look at something or other. That was code. What he wanted was to bum cigarettes. In return for a few cigarettes he would always pour me a glass of sherry, out in the garage. To this day I can’t taste sherry without thinking of him. He had told his wife that he quit smoking and for years she pretended that she didn’t know he bummed cigarettes off all his three granddaughter’s boyfriends.
My wife’s grandparents were married for 62 years when her grandmother died. She died a few months before Thanksgiving. The whole extended family got together for Thanksgiving that year at my wife’s sister’s house. We all tried to cheer Grandpa up as best we could, but, he only got more and more pissed off at the lot of us. My wife’s sister’s husband had a business partner who was Mexican. I remember that Grandpa asked if “That God Damned Mexican” was going to be here again this year. I can remember laughing my ass off at that because it was just “so” Grandpa.
The point of this tale is this: When my sister-in-law brought a nice plate of turkey and trimmings to Grandpa I was sitting close enough to hear what he said. He said…. “You people don’t get it, do you? I don’t want any food. I just want out of here.”
None of us understood that at the time. There was some talk of taking him to the doctor for his “depression”. He was dead before Christmas.
I understand it now. I understand why when people are married for a long time and one of them dies the other wants to run away. You can call it depression, but, I call it being siamese twins who share a heart and realizing, one day, that half your body, the part with the heart, is now gone. It seems less not “wanting” to go on… than being not “capable” of going on. There should be another name for that than depression. It cheapens the whole thing… doesn’t do it justice somehow.
What I remember most about Grandpa is that, it seemed, he hated everybody. So much for hate and anger shortening your life. What I admired most about the old crank was his outstanding gardening ability. To this day I have never seen flowers grow as tall and look as healthy as they did in Grandpa’s yard. I have tried all my adult life to raise flowers like Grandpa did.
This weekend my wife will make home made pizza from her Grandmother’s Sicilian recipe. It’s the best pizza I have ever eaten and I can eat me some pizza. We will sit on the couch on Sunday night, eat pizza, and I will bitch about somebody, or, something.
We will laugh like hell to ourselves.