Category Archives: Relationships

Be My Grammatical Valentine

Be My Grammatical Valentine

I’ve written before about how I met my husband on the streets of Philadelphia, when the city was hit by a snowstorm that brought traffic to a halt.

My husband, or at that time the stranger, was headed to a record store several blocks away because that is what he does in a snow storm. He stopped under the awning of my office building to get temporary refuge from the pelting ice.  I came out of the building at exactly that moment.

Over 30 years later, we both remember that night vividly. The slippery streets, the stalled traffic, his invitation to get a cup of coffee and wait the storm out.

We fell into a conversation that lasted for hours. As it turned out, we had a lot in common.  We loved books and basketball, for starters. And though the term had yet to be coined, we discovered that we had mutual friends through six degrees of separation.

Granted, it was an unusual way to meet. Sometimes I wonder, if we met now — 2016 instead of 1982 — would we have matched on an online dating site? I think it is very possible.

Handsome, good personality, and grammatical.

Knowing what a good writer my husband is, I would have been impressed with his profile description. He would have been creative, funny, and most of all, grammatically correct. Which is one of the things I love best about him.

Incorrect grammar is a huge turnoff for me. And apparently I’m not alone.  The way people write when they’re looking for love does make a difference, according to Grammarly.

Valentine’s Day is approaching, so pay attention, single people.

The folks at Grammarly, the team behind the popular writing app, partnered with the online dating website eHarmony to determine whether the writing skills displayed in people’s online dating profiles affect their chances of finding romance.

Here’s how they did it.

They reviewed 10,000 eHarmony male/female matches generated by eHarmony’s matching algorithm. Fifty percent of the matches advanced to two-way communication, while the other 50 percent failed to advance. Each male and female in a match wrote long-form answers to questions on their dating profile. These writing samples were analyzed by Grammarly’s automated proofreader for accuracy in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

The results are fascinating, and perhaps not what you would have expected. Grammarly summarized them, along with other online dating statistics, in this infographic:

Valentine's Day Grammar 2016 Infographic

Happy Valentine’s Day to all. And if you’re in search of an online valentine this Valentine’s Day, proof read before you click send. ♥

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With Love to My Mother

Last weekend my family celebrated a very special occasion: my future daughter-in-law’s bridal shower. Surrounded by love, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessing of family and friends.

With Love to My Mother

That’s me third from right, with my two daughters on either side. My mother is on the far right. My daughter-in-law and her mother are on the left.

My mother joked, “It all started with me,” and she was right. To honor her this Mother’s Day, I am sharing a post I wrote several years ago.

♥♥♥♥♥

Capturing lightning bugs and dropping them in a glass jar with holes slit in the lid. Running full force into flapping bed sheets drying on our clothesline that smelled like sunshine. Licking bits of cookie dough from my sticky fingers. Bike rides and lots of books and flashlight tag with the neighborhood kids and sleepovers and Saturday matinees and piano lessons and summer camp and July 4th fireworks …

These are the things of which happy childhoods are made.

curly hair, little girl, swing

My mother’s greatest gift was being a mother who knew that.

She and my father gave my brother and me a childhood filled with the important things in life: love, acceptance, passion, and humor.

She also knew when discipline was necessary and stuck to her guns despite my wailing protestations, something I found out years later was one of the hardest jobs of motherhood.

Cute I may have been, but I could be a handful, and I knew my mother looked forward to Saturday nights when she and my dad went out to dinner with their friends and got away from us kids for a few hours.

While my dad left to pick up either Sharon or Kay Lynn or Pat, our favorite babysitters, my mother let me sit in the bathroom and watch while she applied her makeup and shimmied into a girdle. I admired her skill in painting her lips red without going outside the lines. To me, she looked like a movie star.

I experimented with her lipstick, blotting my lips on a tissue just like she did to remove the excess, pretending I was glamorous. I got close to the mirror and kissed my image, saying dahling, dahling (my mother never said this). I powdered my nose and dabbed a drop of Chanel parfum on my wrist as she did, so I could be just like her. 

When I was about 12 years old people started telling me I looked like my mother. That filled me with happiness. If I bore a physical resemblance to my mother, I figured everything would turn out alright.

My mother taught me there is sweet a satisfaction in finishing the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle and making a perfect pie crust, both of which she can do marvelously.

My mother taught me about traditions, why making the same Thanksgiving dinner year after year is OK. Why piano lessons are good for you even though you hate them. Why nice girls don’t swear or call boys. Why a dose of laughter, along with a vitamin and green vegetables, must be part of your daily diet.

My mother, the best mother in the world, taught me how to be a mother myself.

mom, grandmother, daugher, grandson

My mother, grandmother, me and my first child, 2-week old Evan.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, with all my love.

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Group Hug for Bloggers at Midlife

I almost missed International Women’s Day on Sunday. In a frenzied blur of packing, almost missing my taxi-sharing buddy Elaine Ambrose and almost forgetting my suitcase at TSA screening, there was only so much my midlife mind could process.

It wasn’t until I had some down time at the departure gate, scrolling through my iPhone, that it dawned on me. And I realized how fitting it was that International Women’s Day coincided with the first ever Bloggers at Midlife Conference I had just attended.

Bloggers at Midlife, the conference. The first of many, I hope.

It was somewhat of a miracle that I even got there. Because the day before I was scheduled to fly, we got hit with the biggest storm of the winter.

As predicted by giddy meteorologists jonesing for a real snowstorm, the drama began Thursday morning, just after dawn. A few harmless snowflakes at first, then a steady blast of snow throughout the day into early evening.

I checked the forecast every hour. Would I get plowed out before morning? Would my flight take off as scheduled? The answer to both was yes. I was lucky; several of the conference attendees had to bail at the last minute due to canceled flights, impassable roads, etc.

I am so grateful I was able to go.

Bloggers at Midlife. My tribe.

When I started blogging four years ago I sometimes felt like Sandra Bullock in Gravity, floating through space without a tether. Isolated and alone.

Group Hug for Bloggers at MidlifeOh, there were other women bloggers, but virtually no one my age. The mommy bloggers were friendly, but I yearned for contact with others like me, in my stage of life. It was a lonely cyber world out there.  Until one day BlogHer featured a post I wrote about my son being in the Olympics and I tweeted the link. And I received this text.

Group Hug for Bloggers at Midlife

As it happened, I was not attending BlogHer, but Sharon and I stayed in touch and before too long she invited me to join a newly formed Facebook group specifically for midlife women bloggers.

I was lost, but now I was found.

Thanks to Sharon and her partner Anne Parris, this very same group on Facebook now boasts more than 1,000 midlife women bloggers. Their own site, Midlife Boulevard, features content written by many of these amazing writers.

I can say without reservation that being part of this group has changed my life in many wonderful ways.

I never would have dreamed of having the opportunities that came from it. Having my work published on a number of sites, becoming a Huffington Post contributor, appearing on HuffPost Live when one of my posts went viral, becoming a brand ambassador for several major brands, and most importantly, feeling the validation that I had something to offer, something worthy. Which enabled me to fulfill a lifelong dream: I completed the first draft of my novel!

So this past weekend, at the first-ever Bloggers at Midlife (BAM) conference in Nashville, I celebrated this validation with a roomful of my peers. It was a two-day group hug. And you know how good hugs can feel.

Group Hug for Bloggers at Midlife

I shared a room with my dear friend Cathy Chester and reunited with many wonderful women I have come to  know through Midlife Boulevard, among them Kim Jorgensen Gane, Judi Krell FreedmanMargaret Rutherford, Lisa Heffernan and Mary Dell HarringtonConnie McLeod. It was exciting to meet others whom I had only known online, like Claudia Schmidt,  Wendy Walker CushingSusan Williams, Doreen McGettigan. And so many more. It was a pleasure to get to know so many talented, bright, accomplished women.

Group Hug for Bloggers at Midlife

photo credit: Dorothy Salvatori

 

We learned a lot about blogging, but even better, we learned about the power of friendship and support, of empowerment and sisterhood.

All culminating on International Women’s Day. That just seems right to me.

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My Facebook Love is Gone

My Facebook love is gone.

There. I’ve said it out loud.

Like a failed romance — one that has withered over time — my relationship with Facebook has gradually become dispassionate and tinged with angst. I’ve been in denial, but I’m coming clean.

The light bulb went off when I saw this post from the SITS Girls:How to Avoid Facebook Burnout” was the title of the post.

Right then, things crystallized like a blurry photo fixed with a photo editing app. The latent anger, the ennui. It all added up.

There is a name for what I’ve got.

Facebook burnout.

My Facebook Love is Gone

This may surprise many of you who see me on Facebook a lot. Like all the time. Like I know I tend to be an over-sharer.

And maybe you haven’t noticed that I’ve been sharing a little bit less. It might not be obvious. But I haven’t been a happy Facebook camper lately and I’ve kept a little distance.

My reasons have nothing to do with jealousy or threats to my self-esteem, which seem to be the source of burnout for others. No, in this crazy world I love hearing about good things. Even if they are sometimes hard to believe overblown.

I have been a Facebook user (and user/addict is an appropriate term for it) for so long that when I first joined it was just available to emails with an .edu address (college and university emails, and since I worked at a university, I was able to snag one). It was fun learning how to use this social media tool. Then it was fun when increasing numbers of friends and family joined. Then it was fun when my blogging and writing communities blossomed on Facebook.

I started my Books is Wonderful blog page, and that was fun.

And then I followed threads where everyone liked each other’s pages, and that was … you guessed it … fun. My numbers grew and I found new and interesting blogs to follow.

But sometime last year, Facebook decided that roughly 10-15% of my Books is Wonderful followers should get to see my blog posts in their stream. Why? Apparently because I’m not paying to boost those posts. So now most of my Facebook page followers never see my blog posts. The posts they elected to see.

My Facebook Love is Gone

And last week I got thrown in Facebook jail. What was my crime? I “liked” too many pages at one time. Baaaad girl, admonished Facebook. My sentence is a restriction from “liking” any more pages for a week. And all the pages I “liked” in the last 30 days have been erased.

So our love affair has fizzled, Facebook. The bloom is off the rose. I would like there to be no hard feelings. I would like to stay friends. But you’re making it hard.

And you’ve got some competition out there. No, they haven’t caught up with you. Not yet.

But where there is discontent, there is opportunity. If you don’t treat your guests with respect, they may just find another place to call home.

Just saying.

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Love in the Time of Portuguese

You know that recurring dream that everyone seems to have — the one where you are late for class or you can’t find your classroom or you didn’t study for the test or you don’t remember even signing up for the course? And you may just be stark naked, too?

Thankfully I was fully clothed, but my real life scenario was eerily reminiscent of that startling dream.

Yes, I was running through the halls of the high school in search of the elusive Room 203, my pocketbook slung  over my shoulder and bouncing against my hip in cadence with my stride. My first Portuguese class and I was lost in a corridor of confusion. Up the stairs, down the stairs, around the corner. Finally, Room 203 appeared and as I got closer I heard the booming voice of the teacher.

I paused to catch my breath before opening the classroom door. In unison, eight heads swiveled toward me.

Murmuring my apologies, I shimmied through the narrow aisles to an unoccupied desk next to a attractive dark-haired man in a business suit. Our eyes met and in several seconds we silently communicated the following:

“I thought I was on time (pant, pant). When did you get here?”

“Class just started. Don’t worry.”

“You’re kind of cute.”

“So are you.”

The teacher waited for me to get settled. I gestured toward the dark-haired man next to me.

“My husband,” I said, taking my seat.

“Ahh!” exclaimed Senhor. Delighted to be handed a teachable moment, he pivoted to the white board. “Meu marido,” he enunciated animatedly, writing the words in green marker and then turning to face us. “Repita.” He waited.

Meu marido,” we students intoned.

Muito bom,” he praised us. “Repita novamente.” Very good. Repeat again.

Meu marido. Meu marido. My husband.

My husband and I are taking class for a specific reason: our wonderful future daughter-in-law is Brazilian. Although she speaks English fluently, the rest of her family does not. We want to be able to communicate with our família brasileira at the wedding.

We will have our third class tonight, October 7. Our 30th wedding anniversary.

But there will be no candlelit dinner to celebrate. At least not tonight. With just eight classes in the course, we’d miss too much by skipping even one.

We practice the phrases over and over, trying to make them flow.

Bom dia, we learn is the way to say good morning. In 30 years, how many sleepy good mornings have my husband and I exchanged as we grope for the coffee decanter? Bom dia comes with a hug and a yawn. He sits down to read before going out to run. I get online with my first cup of coffee.

Desculpe, or I’m sorry.  Every marriage has had times of disagreement, hurt feelings and miscommunication, and ours is no exception. In 30 years we’ve had many desculpes. As we’ve gotten older they happen less frequently, and almost always over stupid little nothings. Desculpe can clear the air and get things back to normal. He is more likely to say desculpe. I am more likely to sulk.

Não me lembro  or I don’t remember. Não me lembro if I was supposed to pick up milk. Não me lembro the name of that actress in that movie we saw at which theater? We both don’t remember, so there is some comfort in that. In the 30 years of our marriage there are so many memories that sometimes we forget. Remember when you bought me this shirt? he will ask me. Não me lembro, I shrug.

Temos três filhos or we have three children. In 30 years we have seen our babies grow into adults too fast. In our 30 years of marriage we have spent much time arranging play dates, drying tears, driving to baseball practice, helping with homework. Life sped up when they reached high school, with SATs and proms and driving lessons. Now empty nesters, we look back over these 30 years with tremendous love and are so proud of the adults our children have become. Temos três filhos who are our greatest accomplishment in 30 years of marriage.

Eu te amo I love you. Every day. Through thick and thin. You’ve given me the life I always dreamed of having, one of happiness, sharing and laughter. Happy Anniversary, honey.

Meu marido e eu estamos comemorando nosso trigésimo aniversário de casamento. My husband and I are celebrating our thirtieth wedding anniversary.

Learning how to speak Portuguese is like a marriage of 30 years. If you work hard at it, and listen intently, the beauty of it will grab your heart and never let go.

Love in the Time of Portuguese

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The Person, Not the Illness

I was at the job for about two months and then I got fired.

Two years out of college, with a lack of direction and a resume begging for sustenance, I had eagerly accepted a position in the claims department of a large insurance company in Philadelphia.

Hardly the job of my dreams.

But the regular paycheck seduced me. And benefits. It could be the start of a successful corporate career, I reasoned. I didn’t mind standing on the bottom rung of the ladder if there would be an opportunity to climb.

The job involved evaluating insurance claims from policy holders suffering from serious, often terminal illnesses, and assigning benefits to them or their decedents.

These were routine applications: fill in the blanks and sign below. But I found myself searching between the lines for the human behind the diagnostic code. I could piece together the timeline, from the first symptoms to multiple doctor visits, lab tests, hospital visits. I wanted to know more. Who took them to the doctor visits? Did they have a supportive spouse?

I pictured them lying in bed, trying to fill out these forms and having to stop when fatigue took over. It often took minutes of scrutiny to decipher the spidery scrawl written by a shaky hand. My eyes would fill as I paged through the medical history, learning about the person and not just the illness. I wondered about the impact on family and friends. Did the neighbors know? Was anyone bringing meals?

Maybe it was a mistake to read the names and not just stick to the application numbers, which would have made the process less emotional.

But it was what it was.

There was a formula for assigning benefits, of course. You had to key in the appropriate tags based on the insured’s enrollment plan, initial it, and then send the application to the disbursement department for payment.

I was one of a group of about 15 new employees who, like me, were recent college graduates. We went through a week of training, and that was kind of fun, as we got to know each other and joke around. When training was over, we were escorted to our own three-sided cubicles in a massive room filled with cubicles, and given a stack of applications to work on.

So, sidelined by the stories I wrote in my head, my productivity rate was down. Way down. I was nowhere near as efficient as my co-workers. Also, I just couldn’t get the keying-in part. I wanted to give money to every one of these suffering people. Even though the code said deny, I wanted to give.

As my incorrect applications were returned to me one by one, my supervisor would patiently pull up a chair to sit with me and explain where I made errors. I would nod, embarrassed that I was so incompetent, but I still questioned the ruling. Why can’t this person get more money, I asked.

And I kept making mistakes.

One morning my supervisor came over to my cubicle and knelt down. She whispered that it wasn’t working out, they had given me time to learn the job and I hadn’t gotten it. She was sorry to see me go, but I should pack up my things and leave the building.

And so it went.

I thought of this because a friend of mine, someone I knew in high school, died this week.

We were never best friends, just friends. And we had lost touch over the  years, but — the oft heard refrain these days  — we reconnected on Facebook several years ago.

She had a daughter working in New York, just as I did.  So proud she was of her daughter, an aspiring writer. She asked if I would be willing to talk to her, give her advice. I was flattered to be asked, and was pleased to do it.  Afterwards, I emailed my friend to tell her what a lovely and talented daughter she had. I think that made her happy.

A month ago my friend’s family put out a plea on social media. My friend was diagnosed with lung cancer and needed money to pay for her treatment. I don’t know what her situation was, but whatever she had wouldn’t cover it.

Her family and friends responded. But it wasn’t enough, or maybe there was no amount of money that would have saved her. I wondered if someone was reading through her application, but surely it is done electronically now.

But just in case anyone wants to know? She was pretty with a sparkling smile, friendly and fun, loved by many. And that’s how I will remember her.

The Person, Not the Illness

In memory of Dixie Troutman Elbert

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I See Dead People

What a macabre subject to grace a blog that normally leans toward the lighthearted. But where else than here would I feel unencumbered by convention or political correctness to talk about a delicate subject that’s on my mind?

So here goes. And I truly mean no disrespect.

I see dead people.

It doesn’t happen every day, just now and then. If you’re on social media, surely this has happened to you, too.

Let me explain.

I’ve been an active Facebook user since early 2007. Now, seven years later, who isn’t on Facebook?  For better or worse, this is how most of us stay connected these days.

And reading Facebook updates is part of my morning routine while I drink my first cup of coffee and watch Good Morning America at low volume.

I’m pretty efficient. I can usually catch up with the latest before the 7:30 a.m. commercial break.

I quickly scroll through the “Which Character from The Simpsons Are You?” (never watched it) and the “Like if Your Sister is Awesome” (I have no sisters) and “Copy and Paste to See Who Really Cares About You” (I don’t care) to get to the important stuff. I wander over to my Books is Wonderful  page to check on the activity there.

In the right column is a box with a header entitled “Invite Friends.” At the top of the list is a particular friend.

I haven’t seen much of this friend as of late. That is because this particular friend, actually this late particular friend, has, um, departed.

Not just logged out of Facebook. Logged out, period.

I never did get to invite her to “like” my page. And if I invited her now, I doubt she would accept.

Herein lies one of the curiosities of our new technology. There’s another universe now, thanks to social media, somewhere between Here on Earth and The Sweet Hereafter. We’re not really gone when we die. Our profile picture lives on in the cloud, popping up willy nilly as if nothing has changed.

I See Dead People

Here’s another example.

Facebook told me that John ‘likes” Amazon Prime. This gave me pause, because I doubt that John qualifies for free shipping at his new address.

And one more.

Under an ad for Birdseye Vegetables I see that Bob “likes” it. Whether this was true or just lip service from Bob I’ll never know, but I bet Bob is way happier with manna from heaven than frozen lima beans.

I See Dead People

Some may find it creepy, but I kind of enjoy bumping into these departed friends as they go about liking Ikea and American Express and waiting for me to invite them to ‘like” my page. I can pretend that they’re still around. Sort of.

How do you feel?

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I am My Father’s Daughter

My dad’s high school English teacher wrote the following on his yearbook cover:

To Irv,

 You have a future in journalism!

Miss Ludwig

Miss Ludwig was an excellent judge of talent but her prediction proved to be wrong, for my dad set his sights elsewhere. Fresh out of college and recently married, he had all the markings of an entrepreneur: ambition, drive, passion and an intuitive business sense. Maybe a touch of chutzpah as well. He borrowed a few thousand dollars to launch a manufacturing company that would be the first of many successful ventures over a long career.

As his business grew, he experienced both the rewards and challenges of being a sole proprietor. Clearly there were times of stress and disappointment as well as intense satisfaction. There were demands made on him, contracts to settle, conflicts to deal with.

All I knew, as his daughter, was that my daddy was the funniest and kindest man in the world, and when he came home in time for dinner every night he was all about us, his family. I don’t remember him ever working in the evenings or on weekends.

He was a doting, affectionate, hands-on dad, always.

Dad liked to get in my playpem with me.

Dad and I in my playpen

 But back to journalism.

 So he didn’t become a professional journalist. His oeuvre is pretty much limited to the occasional letter he sent me at summer camp or a funny poem for one of my children. I have kept every one of them.

 Like any gifted writer, my dad is a voracious reader, and we share an affinity for the well-crafted story. As I grew older, he introduced me to the works of John Updike and John O’Hara, two terrific authors who hailed from our little corner of Pennsylvania, and a third John, John Irving, whose writing and character development we found remarkable.

My dad enjoys sharing articles that he knows I will like. Recently he cut a story out of The Wall Street Journal about a girl who loved horses (I always have). If there is a thought-provoking article in this week’s The New Yorker we will discuss it. An opinion piece by one his favorite columnists in The New York Times can inspire a conversation.

My dad and I appreciate the beauty in many forms of art, and literature is one we almost always agree about. We can marvel over a cleverly strung phrase with as much gusto as we admire a painter’s canvas or a sculptor’s carving.

 If I am my father’s daughter, it is because we can lose ourselves, and find ourselves, in great literature.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

Dad holding me on his lap and reading

We have always shared a love of reading.

 

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My Mother’s Greatest Gift: a Daughter’s Love Story

Capturing lightening bugs and dropping them in a glass jar with holes slit in the lid. Running full force into flapping bed sheets drying on our clothesline that smelled like sunshine. Licking bits of cookie dough from my sticky fingers. Bike rides and lots of books and flashlight tag with the neighborhood kids and sleepovers and Saturday matinees and piano lessons and summer camp and July 4th fireworks …

These are the things of which happy childhoods are made.

My mother’s greatest gift was being a mother who knew that.

curly hair, little girl, swing

She and my father gave my brother and me a childhood filled with the important things in life: love, acceptance, passion, and humor.

She also knew when discipline was necessary and stuck to her guns despite my wailing protestations, something I found out years later was one of the hardest jobs of motherhood.

family photo

Cute I may have been, but I could be a handful, and I knew my mother looked forward to Saturday nights when she and my dad went out to dinner with their friends and got away from us kids for a few hours.

While my dad left to pick up either Sharon or Kay Lynn or Pat, our favorite babysitters, my mother let me sit in the bathroom and watch while she applied her makeup and shimmied into a girdle. I admired her skill in painting her lips red without going outside the lines.

Once they had left, I experimented with her lipstick, blotting my lips on a tissue just like she did to remove the excess. I kneeled on the sink to get close to the mirror and kissed my image, saying dahling, dahling (my mother never said this). I powdered my nose and dabbed a drop of Chanel parfum on my wrist as she did, so I could be just like her. 

When I was about 12 years old people started telling me I looked like my mother. That filled me with happiness.

I was an awkward pre-teen with oily skin and clothes that never fit right, but if I bore a physical resemblance to my mother, I figured there was a glimmer of hope.

My mother taught me there is sweet a satisfaction in finishing the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle and making a perfect pie crust, both of which she can do marvelously.

My mother taught me about traditions, why making the same Thanksgiving dinner year after year is OK. Why piano lessons are good for you even though you hate them. Why a dose of laughter, along with a vitamin and green vegetables, must be part of your daily diet.

If I am like my mother, I am the person I always wanted to be.

The greatest gift from my mother, the best mother in the world, was how to be a mother myself.

mom, grandmother, daugher, grandson

My mother, grandmother, me and my first child, 2-week old Evan.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, with all my love.

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Sharing the Shakes: When You Both Have the Flu

Everyone has an opinion when I tell them that my husband has bronchitis.

“There’s something going around,” attest some. “It must be the change in weather,” pipe in others. “He pushes himself too hard,” chides the inner circle. Whatever the reason, my husband is home sick, and I’m trying to ignore my own scratchy throat and throbbing headache. We can’t both be sick at the same time.

Who will take care of whom if neither of us can face getting out of bed?

This situation, a bilateral meltdown, happened just once in our married life. It was while we were on vacation.

My parents had generously offered to stay with the kids, then 10, 4 and 1, so we could get away for a few days to sunny Florida. It would be our first time alone since the baby was born. All signs pointed to good weather, romantic evenings and many blissful hours on the beach.

The night before our departure had finally arrived. I finished writing a lengthy list of childcare instructions: what the kids would eat, what they would probably not eat but you never know, who tends to spit out vegetables and feed them to the dog, who is most likely to need “time out,” that kind of thing.  My brand new resort wear in shades of pastels was tucked neatly in the bags, and with a final review of my list I went to sleep tired but happy, with sweet dreams of wiggling my toes in the sand while sipping a frozen raspberry daiquiri. Child-free.

Something felt wrong when we woke up to the 4 a.m. alarm. “I feel funny,” I mumbled to my husband as I rubbed my eyes. “Am I coming down with something?”

I threw on my clothes and tried to tell myself, essentially, that I was nuts. “You’re nervous about flying. You’ll be fine. You did remember to pack everything. Don’t make yourself upset. You are not sick. You are not sick. You are not sick.” My husband carried the suitcases out to the car. “Take some Tylenol, honey. You’ll feel better,” he said. “Maybe it’s something we ate. I feel a little bit off, myself.” I am not sick was my mantra on the way to the airport.

The tropical resort was surrounded by swaying palm trees and lush pink and purple bouganvillea. According to the brochure, that is. I don’t think we noticed, since we were swaying ourselves. We walked staggered into the  sparkling lobby with doormen whose smiles froze when they saw our greenish faces.

The elevator ride seemed interminable. The porter opened the door to our ocean-facing room, as cheery as could be. “Here are the light switches to your closet. Can I show you the towels in your bathroom?” Please make this nice man leave, I prayed silently. The door shut behind him, and we collapsed.

Beach in Florida

Those beach chairs were calling our names.

The weather proved to be as predicted all week. A cloudless sky, perfect temperature, probably around 80. The slightest of cooling breezes to make beach goers comfortable.

So they told us in halting English, the housekeepers did, as they quickly changed our dampened sheets while we wrapped ourselves in blankets and tried not to shake. Ai yi yi, they murmured to each other as they made a hasty retreat from this room of doom.

My husband and I, afflicted with something akin to the  Bubonic Plague, were sick in bed every day of that vacation. We could have been in Gary, Indiana for all the beach going we did. Until the day we left, our sole foray was to the local clinic where we were prescribed antibiotics that actually made us worse. I don’t think we even stepped out on the lovely balcony to survey the activity on the beach.

The great restaurants we were going to sample? Nope, not a one. Room service? Couldn’t bear the thought of food. I could barely make it down the hall for bottles of water which I urged my husband to drink. We looked at each other not with desire, but with dismay.

Our journey home was infamous, too. My husband had to push me through the airport in a wheelchair. I felt the alarmed eyes of strangers judging me as I lay inert on the baggage claim floor. Finally home, we could only stumble to our bed with our kids clamoring to find out what we brought them.

It took us a few more days to recover from that nasty flu bug. It’s hard to be a caretaker when you want to be taken care of. Luckily for us, with youth and stamina on our side, we pulled it off.

My husband has bronchitis. But I am not getting sick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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