Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Show of Support

"I'm in love with her and I feel fine." -The Beatles

You never know when you're going to get that proverbial knock on the door. It rarely is - if ever- an actual knock on the door. The knock on the door that makes you realize something you knew all along, but mostly don't have the time to really think about. Although the comfort of knowing is usually enough, sometimes you need to say it out loud.

My wife was out walking the dog. The peanut and I were playing, waiting for friends of hers from daycare and their parents to come over for a backyard barbecue. She was giddy in anticipation. She was wearing her bathing suit, waiting to jump in this new inflatable water sprinkler playmat thingy we had set up.

Then came the knock on the door (It was actually a ringing of the doorbell). The peanut screeched with excitement. "They're here," I shouted. "Come with me to get the door!" She followed closely behind me. Contagious, nervous thrills pumped through my veins, seemingly jumping from my daughter's skin to my own.

I cracked open the door and peered down, expecting to see two little familiar mischievous twin faces staring back at me. Instead, I saw sandals attached to a woman with a face I'd never seen before.

"Who the hell are you?" I wanted to say. She stopped me before I could say anything. "Hi, I'm your new neighbor." She and her family had moved two houses down from ours just the day before. We hadn't even had the opportunity to welcome them to the block when this surprise visit unceremoniously cut through that ceremonial red tape.

She told me her son had fallen and needed some stitches on his chin. She wanted to know where the nearest hospital was. Pretty standard information any parent should be able to recite upon request. She was surprisingly calm for a mother in her situation, especially considering my less than helpful response:


It was impossible for her to feign surprise at my gross lack of knowledge of a key and seemingly elementary piece of information. Yet, I had no idea what to tell her.

Hospital? What's a hospital? I know of hospitals. You want a specific one? How specific? You want directions too? You knocked on the wrong door at the wrong time, lady.

"Believe it or not, we recently moved here too (a year ago) and I'm not sure which one is closest. Hackensack?" Even I knew that response was lame. This woman would clearly learn in a short amount of time how long we'd been living here and that the father in the house on the corner has no idea what he's doing, where he's going, or where's he's been for that matter. She was probably surprised that I was even competent enough to be wearing pants at that point. Wait, was I wearing pants?

The next thing out of my mouth was the most logical solution to me. "Well, my wife will be right back if you want to wait. She'll definitely know." But this couldn't wait the ridiculous amount of time it would take our high maintenance yet endlessly lovable dog to finish her business. I sent her across the street to the next closest parent - knowledgeable parent - I knew was home.

This little anecdote, other than highlighting my ignorance and making you second guess my ability to deal with a child emergency of my own, clearly shows the importance of my wife in the parenting relationship. She rules.

She provides logistical support, technical support, and perhaps most important, emotional support. She gets the directions, sets the itineraries, makes the lists, packs the gear, rids the computer of bugs, deals with the moods of her daughter, her husband, her dog.

I - we - would be lost without her. An uncalibrated compass spinning out of control with no way of finding north. She dresses, addresses, and redresses every aspect of our lives with patience, understanding, love, and affection. And she doesn't mind doing at all.

Today is her birthday, my favorite day of the year. There is no better cause for celebration than the birth of the woman who has brought unlimited, unbridled, unending happiness to my life in too many ways to count.

There's a story I often tell to describe just how generous she is with her time,  her love, her patience. And how needy, incompetent, and clumsy I am. We were skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming one winter. My wife, despite not having an athletic bone in her body, is a very graceful and adept skier. I, on the other hand, am Fred Flintstone on skis. I had finally acquired the skill, gained the confidence, and conjured the courage, to graduate off the bunny slope to the next step up.

I maintained this confidence even though the slow climb up the ski lift made it seem to me like we were headed for the clouds. When we finally got off we were far from the bottom of the mountain. I'm not sure if the hill was marked with blue squares, black diamonds, or green clovers, but I am quite certain I did not bring my lucky charms to the top of that mountain.

Pizza, french fries
I began my descent very well. I was doing what I was taught. Pizza, french fries. Pizza, french fries. I was doing it, doing it, doing it well. Then I fell. No problem. I got back up. Fell again. Doubt started to creep in. Got back up. Another spill. Now I'm thinking, "how the hell am I going to get down this mountain?"

I get up again and fall like you see on blooper reels. I was John Cusack in "Better Off Dead." Tumbling, stumbling, swearing, losing everything I was wearing. Including my skis. Both of them. I managed to get one of them on myself. But you need to lean on someone else to get into the other.

That's when my wife, the snow princess, effortlessly glided towards me, the sun majestically reflecting off her blonde hair as it blew in the chilly breeze. We were standing there, side by side, on the side of a mountain covered in snow so powdery you could sprinkle it on top of an ice cream sundae. I leaned on her with all my weight, which was nearly twice hers, as I tried to click my second ski into place and get off this God-forsaken bump in the earth.

She nearly buckled under the immense pressure, but she wrapped her arm around me, held me up, and encouraged me as I put all of the weight of my body onto her shoulders and slammed my boot into that stupid ski.

Safely inside, and off skis
Once successfully upright again, I looked her in her beautiful, sparkling, goggled eyes and said, out of breath, "I guess this is why they make you take wedding vows." For better or for worse.

Lesser women would have left their putz of a husband on top of that mountain. Would have complained of the enormous strain of the task at hand. Would have said, "just slide down on your butt." Not my wife. My confidence, my pride, my dreams of a successful solo trip down the mountain all shattered, she held my arm and guided me down after helping me back up.

She's all the support I need (tear).

1 comment:

  1. what a beautiful birthday tribute to your wife. you guys are great!HAPPY BIRTHDAY MEGAN!!Love Ya Mom M.


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