I sometimes felt wistful for earlier years when Tony and I shared more in common. I’d known that a good marriage always required compromise, and ours was a solid match. Tony had never been one for “surprises” though – seldom a spur of the moment decision to go out, call the neighbors to ask them in, or even rearrange the furniture. He was lucky that he could stick to his routines of T-V in the winter and simple outdoor chores in the summer.
When Tony had to remain in a chair on the deck after heart surgery and was in recovery mode, I trundled the lawnmower out of the garage. Luckily, the motor roared to life with one pull of the starter cord. Cutting nearly an acre of property was no mean feat at best, made worse by knowing that it simply could never be completed to Tony’s satisfaction. There was, however, no other option.
Washing dishes was another burr for Tony. My process was at least average – “I don’t like the way you do the dishes” he said. We agreed I would cook and he would do the cleanup.
Over the years we seldom quarreled – a moody snit now and then from Tony; I would find another spot in the house to occupy some time. My disposition was naturally cheerful and optimistic – characteristics that provided a strong foundation to shoulder the woes of health challenges which beset Tony in quick succession.
Knowing that I was not the intended target of Tony’s outbursts of impatience was small consolation. Steering clear of the raging bull until he’d finished snorting and pawing was the best practice. When I would chide him gently after the dust settled, he would explain it was “all thunder and no lightning” –just getting it off his chest, while I took it in the neck.
As frustration increased over inability to do tasks that formerly were easy, Tony’s temper flashed more frequently. I became adept at sidestepping when I could see his eyes get dark and mouth straight and thin. No point in approaching a growling bear, ever!
There would sometimes be the sound of broken glassware in the kitchen, or the slamming of a stubborn pot that wouldn’t fit in its space, or a curse when operator-error resulted in a television malfunction.