June 25, 2018

I will never forget yesterday as long as I live and have cognition. Yesterday, 6/25/18 is the day that I almost became a widow at the age of 54. Yeah, I know 54 is not young, but it’s not 74 or 84, either.

I now know what it feels like to wonder how I will manage without my husband. To try to remember where he said all of the important papers are. To frantically search through his pants pockets to find his wallet that has his I.D. and insurance card while the paramedics lift his almost lifeless body onto a stretcher. To be the frantic spouse who calls 911 and attempts to calmly explain that her husband is not responsive while wanting to shout, “just get the ambulance here, damnit!” I know what it’s like to sit in the crowded hospital ER waiting room and rehash the previous hour’s events and pray that you don’t see a grim-faced doctor striding towards you.

For over three hours, I didn’t know if my husband was going to live. The outlook wasn’t good. He had not been feeling well and a trip to the ER two days prior was supposed to be the beginning of his recovery.

So much has happened in the past three weeks that it’s almost impossible not to believe that through some sick twist of fate or some carefully orchestrated plans,  I was here for a reason.  You see, I lost my job on 6/12/18. My full-time job was reduced to part-time and then finally it became a no-time job. It’s been a difficult transition, but a transition that has given me the opportunity to be at home and help out around the house. I thought then that perhaps there was a deeper reason or meaning to what was happening. Even prior to 6/12/18, my husband’s health started to deteriorate rapidly and I found myself simultaneously job hunting and trying to hold it together at home.

I accepted a job offer which gave me two weeks before the start date and last week, with the urging of my husband, I planned a trip to visit family out of state. Hubby’s health continued to decline and he couldn’t walk even a short distance without becoming winded. I canceled my trip last Wednesday and didn’t look back. Monday, 6/25/18, was the day I was supposed to be driving 700 miles alone while he stayed behind. Sure, he said, he could make it without me. He’s proud like that and not much scares him. I told him that while I appreciated his unselfishness, I couldn’t leave him.

If I had, he would surely be dead.

Thanks to God or the universe or whoever intervened. He is in the hospital where the experts can hopefully find out what happened. In the meantime, I’ll never forget 6/25/18. I will never forget finally being allowed to see him, not knowing if he would be able to talk or see or breathe on his own. When I turned the corner to his room and saw him sitting up looking at his phone, I have never been more thankful and grateful.

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The cult of Jack Pearson

Jack Pearson is a fictional character. He is the patriarch of the Pearson family, the family many of us have let into our living rooms every Tuesday night. For those avid fans, I have to preface this by advising you not read further if you have not seen the episode that aired after the Super Bowl this past Sunday.  SPOILER ALERT!!!

I watched the episode and like many, cried tears of grief along with Rebecca when she went to Jack’s hospital room and discovered that he did die from a heart attack brought on by smoke inhalation. Rebecca refused to believe the doctor who stopped her at the vending machine to break the bad news of Jack’s untimely and unexpected passing.  Of course, the fans everywhere had been speculating for months about his death, as we had been teased in so many episodes.

Reality aside, I want to talk about the character of Jack Pearson. Why do men and women alike love him so much? Why are millions of Americans sobbing about the death of a fictional character? The obvious answer is that he was relatable. The family is relatable. Blue collar Pittsburghers meet in a bar, fall in love, get pregnant with triplets, lose a baby, gain an African American son (the very same day!), raise children, and deal with life as it’s thrown at them. Jack Pearson, through all of the heartache and all of the family struggles, is steadfast in his love and devotion to his family. He’s a hard worker, he loves and worships his wife, he treats his children with love and respect and best of all, he loves his daughter and constantly reminds her that she is beautiful JUST THE WAY SHE IS. Kate, the daughter, has a weight problem. She is teased by other girls at the pool. Jack loans her his shirt so she can cover up, never once making her feel that she is anything less. He adores his sons Kevin and Randall and never once do you see him raise his voice or lose his patience. He is perfect. He is also the perfect husband, working hard at his job, working around the house, surprising his family with trips and presenting a united front with Rebecca. He is handsome, romantic and always cheerful. The fact that Jack has a drinking problem and is an admitted alcoholic is always tucked away in the series and attempts to show that Saint Jack is not perfect after all. Oh, but I disagree. He goes to AA meetings and readily admits to his ER doctor that he cannot have pain pills because he’s a substance abuser. Jack never sneaks pills. Jack doesn’t look at other women and Jack doesn’t yell at his kids.  Jack ultimately saves his entire family and family pet but in doing so, inadvertently took his own life.

Jack is like Jesus. As you see him emerge from the house in flames, you see him carrying the family dog, rising out of the ashes like a phoenix.

We like to see characters we can relate to and there is something to be said for losing yourself in the life of another family for an hour per week. However, we must be careful. I have heard so many women say that they wish their husbands were more like Jack. I have wished that I had a father who was so accepting. My father has personal issues with weight and he passed that on to me. He is not perfect, but he’s my father and he’s all that I have. I love him despite his faults.  It is so tempting to compare the reality of our own dysfunctional relationships with the relationships we see created for our consumption on television or in the movies. There is a reason women like to read romance novels and that’s fine. If we women heard our husbands longingly wish that we were more like Rebecca, we’d be rightfully hurt. The same goes for our husbands, our sons, our daughters and our fathers. They are real people with faults. They’re not Jack and Rebecca or Randall, Kevin or Kate. I love the Pearsons, too. There isn’t anything wrong with that. It’s when I start to feel sad for my own father daughter relationship that I need to question my own reality and accept it for what is in, warts and all.

The Feminist Double Standard

Lately I have been noticing a trend that seems to have its roots in social media.  I belong to a closed group on Facebook called 50 and Fabulous.  This is the place where we menopausal ladies can gripe, talk about our saggy boobs and lament our empty nests.

It’s also a place where married women can openly drool over the supposed perfect man for the menopausal set, Sam Elliott.  selliott  I have seen an openness among married women on social media to drool over men other than their husbands and to celebrate our liberation by ogling  any man we find hot.   The point is that we have absolutely no qualms about drooling over half naked men and taking the time to post and share whatever hottie we think our friends might fancy.  Most of us are secure in our marriages, but I know for a fact that many, if not all, of these women would not find it nearly as amusing to see their husbands posting and sharing half naked pics of whomever they find attractive.  If said women were thinner, younger, and prettier, the wound would hurt even more.  Is it ever ok to openly gawk at a good looking stranger in front of your spouse?  I say no.  It’s disrespectful.

Most wives and husbands play a game where they name one celebrity crush that they would cheat on the other spouse with if the chance ever arose.  It’s all fun and games, because you know it’s never going to happen.  I have many married male friends on Facebook and I have never once seen any of them post and share pics of beautiful women other than their own wives.

I choose not to hurt my husband’s sense of self-worth by making him feel any less about himself.  We are not perfect people.  I love him and find him immensely attractive.  I like to show him that he is the only one for me by not comparing him to guys half his age and I know he feels the same about me.