Kim may be surprised to learn that taking care of a house requires a lot of work. While she has been doing her brave and painful thing in re-hab, I am doing her thing in our condo. Where my previous duties involved taking out the trash, getting the mail, helping make the bed and drying dishes, now I have to do a bit more.
The toaster, for example, does not shake out its own crumbs. I have to do it! And the mold in my shower does not simply die of old age and then evaporate. No! Who knew?! You get the idea . . ..
Before you get to feeling too sorry for me, I should note that with Kim’s encouragement, I hired Olga to come in and do the cleaning. She put in four hours on Tuesday, and to her credit, she didn’t make any comments about the quality of my cleaning in the weeks before she arrived. (One of my duties is “floors,” which I take to mean “visible parts of the floors.”) She mopped our cork floors using diluted white vinegar – something I’d read about but never tried. Kim is coming home today. I’m trying not to spoil Olga’s handiwork.
Then there is cooking. So far I have gotten by with breakfast cereal, peanut butter sandwiches, and the meat loaf and chicken salad that Abbey thoughtfully donated, paired with carrot sticks and red wine. Saturday was my first real cooking (if you don’t count toast): bacon and scrambled eggs. For dinner.
I pause here to veer off in a different direction.
I miss her. Even when I’m enjoying my bachelor solitude, I miss her. Kim is in a rehab facility about 200 yards from where I sit, and I’m not there, and I miss her. When I clean the condo, I try to do it to her standards – knowing I will fall short, but I try. (When I had to ask her where she kept the big bucket of cleaning supplies, I was embarrassed and she was not surprised.) When I go to bed at night, I fold down the blanket on her side, as if she were going to join me.
And today she is coming home, but it won’t be to our old life. I have been working to prepare our condo for her arrival – shopping for a hospital bed, raised toilet seat with rails, grab bars (she does not want chrome – preferring brushed nickel – appearance not being my primary concern), and we moved my old reclining Archie Bunker chair out of storage so she can sit at an angle that does not damage her back. She will be using a walker for months – Marsha loaned us a deluxe model with large wheels and a place for camera gear, but still . . .. She is in so much pain – Monday was her worst day yet – with her repaired spine so fragile, that hugs are dangerous and thus avoided. Genne’ arrived Tuesday, and with her loving expertise Kim has made major improvements, but her pain is still my pain.
And then yesterday, when I became visibly frustrated because I could not get a human being on the phone so I could resubmit our application for a handicapped parking tag, Kim had me lean over so she could comfort me! “I’m supposed to be comforting you,” I told her, fighting back my tears.
No road trips for us in the near future. And how are we going to build that house on Torch Lake? Kim has to be involved in the process, but there is so much pain, so much limitation of movement, so much fatigue. And even when she has healed, or partially healed from the surgery, there is cancer that needs to be treated, and we still don’t know the precise nature of her cancer and thus the kind of treatment we will undergo. Together.
And yet, and yet – she phoned me yesterday morning to say, “I have an idea!” Let the next adventure begin.
“Uh-oh!" I said. "Hang on - here we go!”