Because I can barely do anything physical, Kim and I have this running gag.
“Kim, we need to mow the lawn, and by WE, I mean YOU.”
“Kim, we need to build a brick patio, and by WE…”
“I know, Mitch. I know. When you say WE, you mean ME!”
As satisfying as it may seem to lounge about and do nothing other than make suggestions and dispense praise or criticism, I’m saddened that I can’t contribute more. Before my diagnosis there were some chores I hated and others I liked. I particularly enjoyed anything that made the outside of our house look better. I was the guy who took care of the swimming pool. I did most of the mowing and at least half of the raking. I loved to cut, split, and pile firewood. I enjoyed pruning trees and bushes. At two of our homes I installed fences. I can’t say that I loved to mow the lawn, but I can’t say that I hated it either.
Today, it eats away at me to see these opportunities and not be able to do anything about them. I have to be careful to not overwhelm Kim with my “Honey, we need to…” suggestions too. In fact, this is one of the few areas of friction in our marriage. I need to do a better job of either cutting these requests to a bare minimum or delivering them in a more thoughtful, considerate manner. Alternatively, if I whisper my requests in her ear while she sleeps she might awaken with the inexplicable urge to do exactly what I suggested. I think I like that idea better.
It’s not as if Kim used to be timid, and all of a sudden had to grow a pair. She’s always had enough audacity to dive headlong into complex projects that she may or may not have any business attempting. Fortunately for us, they usually turn out well.
Also, it’s not as if she loved to lounge around and take it easy before my diagnosis, and now she is forced to get up off the couch. In fact, another running gag of ours pokes fun at her inability to kick back and relax. She seldom reads for pleasure and won’t watch movies with me. This is probably a diagnosable and treatable disorder. No doubt there is a pill that she could take to cure this brand of crazy. But I hope she never finds it, because I like her and my household just the way they are, thank you!
Another motivating factor for Kim is her extreme frugality, which she comes by naturally. I sit back at a safe distance when Kim and her parents devour the coupons and flyers in the Sunday paper. Because of this genetic trait, Kim can’t stand to hire professionals to do any work around the house that we might be able to do ourselves, and by we I mean her. Recently, however, she has exhibited some cracks in this facade, and has not completely discounted the possibility of us hiring some help for a couple hours a week, but I’ll believe that when I see it.
I’m not the only one who comes up with ideas for projects. Yes, I was the one who pushed for the patio that she built this summer (to the right and below), which is nearly identical to the one she built at our previous home (above). Our friends, Khoren and Kelly, who purchased that home from us two years ago, are still enjoying Kim’s first patio. But Kim is the one who decided on her own to paint every room in our new house, to change all the hardware on the kitchen cabinets and every doorknob and hinge in the house, to put hardwood flooring in Zach’s bedroom, and to refinish and paint all of the kitchen cabinets. She will undertake those last two projects this winter. Kim is fairly accomplished at installing hardwood floors (picture at top of post), but this will be her first kitchen cabinet refinishing. Does anyone have advice for how we (Kim) should approach that project?
To summarize, Kim now does all the things that she used to do, all the things I used to do, and all of the additional tasks associated with taking care of her disabled husband. Kim is able to accomplish this because she is a restless penny-pincher, and a loving, caring, and incredibly awesome person.