I was 67 before I had to take out the garbage and learn the complexities of recycling.
How could this happen you might ask? Well fortunately for me, I was a married woman with a husband who took care of all those chores.
When my husband George died suddenly at aged 68, I was thrown into an abyss of grief and shock. My body shut down; my mind couldn’t absorb information; I spent months tossing and turning with very little sleep and no peace. I was married for 42 years to a very devoted man, who had shared my life and participated in the everyday running of our home.
I was shielded from leaky taps, overgrown lawns, unruly hedges, dishwasher maintenance, hot water boilers and all the usual appliance break downs – these were none of my business other than reporting the faulty object to George who took care of everything. Cars, lawnmowers, bike wheel punctures - and not to mention printers out of ink and the forever complex and changing world of hi-tech devices! These were all George’s domain and he solved all these glitches cheerfully.
And then there were those times that I, on a whim, would suggest a little furniture rearranging or pictures lowered on the wall. This, too, was all done for me.
I ignored brown envelopes and window envelopes - in fact all mail except hand written letters. All that boring business stuff was stacked on the hall table and left for George to open.
During the summer months, we often had glitches with the ice maker and my fickle old garburator. Again all I had to do was to mention to him that we had no ice or that the garburator packed it in again - George worked his magic touch. Living in an old house required a resident handy man and I had the best in the neighborhood.
So you can imagine the shock of George’s sudden death left me heartbroken and desperately lonely. I found myself a stranger in my own house - I hadn’t a clue how it all worked. Shocked at how much I took for granted, I realized how little attention I paid to the affairs of the house and how responsible and hardworking my beloved husband was without ever complaining.
For over 40 years, I had lived a charmed life, in a well maintained home, never paying any attention to the daily grind of home maintenance. I had never considered myself a spoiled princess type but I was spoiled by having George in my life. He shielded me from the boring business of running a house. I wish I hadn’t taken it all so for granted.
Now I know very differently and my learning curve has been steep and painful. Within a month, I had to be coached by my son on how to pay all the household bills by computer. It was up to me to set up some workable filing system and a method of dealing with mail. This is still a work in progress for me.
The lawn mower is now my domain and with only a patch of grass this shouldn’t be too hard - wrong, the lawn mower is battery operated. The battery needed recharging – how? Then re-installing the thing... this is difficult and awkward. Another work in progress.
A friend came around and explained the basics of the ice maker, now I have ice. I had to wear a head lamp and lie on the floor to investigate the darn garbaretor, I did find a tiny hidden button which reset it and now it works. Why did I never ask George what he was doing under the sink, no, it was easier for me just to mention it was backed up and he pressed the little button.
I struggled for 20 minutes trying to get the fitted bottom sheet on the bed - usually George would lend a hand holding it down while I tucked it in.
The thermostat and the alarm system are still mysteries to me and are on the top of my list to learn as soon as my son next visits.
Banking, business and dealing with estate matters are beyond my kin at the moment and will have to remain so until I can retain information. I need my wits about me when I am making life changing decisions.
My advise to happily married women is get more involved and never take your life for granted. It can all end in the blink of an eye like it did with me.
How I wish for a few more moments with George again - to tell him how wonderfully he was, to tell him how perfect he made my life. Alas his sudden death has taken away that chance but every day I give thanks for the privilege of being married to him for 42 years. Everyday I am reminded on how lucky I was.