A week without my better half


I have been married for … well, let’s not get specific here, but for a very long time. Over the years, my wife and I have learned how to work together to get things done. It’s almost like clockwork – well, until she goes away for a week. Then everything goes haywire.

I was thinking about this when I was driving back from the airport after dropping her off so she could spend a week with our grandchildren in Denver before they go back to school.

I felt her absence immediately. When we travel together, she handles the GPS and the music and the books downloaded from the library. I just drive. When she’s not there, I still just drive. No stories, no music, just radio, and listening to the radio in the car can be a nerve-wracking experience – lots of crazy people shouting at each other and bad music.

I set the GPS before I go but there is no checking the phone for details. So there I was driving back from the Cincinnati airport, which actually is in Kentucky. I am driving from Kentucky instead of from the Dayton airport, which is just down the road from me, because you really can’t get a flight from Dayton directly to Denver – or almost anywhere, for that matter – these days. You have to fly through somewhere else and it takes all day and costs a fortune. So I drive her to Cincinnati.

With no navigator, I have to make a big decision about how to get back across the Ohio River. The Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati is a total mess and I hate to sit in traffic. Since the shrill guy on the radio is saying there is a half-hour backup both ways at the bridge stretching back somewhere into central Kentucky, I opt to go back the way I came — the long way on I-275. This takes you through Indiana and halfway to Montana to get around Cincinnati. The problem is, lots of other people have the same idea, so it’s a bit of a struggle. I finally make it home, but it ends up taking me as long to drive there and back as it does for my wife to fly to Denver.

When I get home, I have to make myself supper (hamburgers on the grill! I will have them five times this week), then clean up, feed the cat, do a little work on the computer, play with the cat, then stumble into bed.

At 4 a.m., the cat decides to pat me on the head. This is unusual. The cat normally does any night time communication with my wife, but she is not here. At 5 a.m., the cat is back, playing with the sheets. I wonder if the cat is angry because my wife is not there and is taking it out on me. She never does this kind of thing when my wife is around.

Finally at 6:30 I get up. The cat rolls around on the ground and purrs, apparently because she knows she is in control of the house. She then leads me to her food bowl which is … empty! No wonder! I didn’t give her enough food. Tonight, I will fill her bowl to overflowing in the hopes of putting her into a food coma before I go to bed.

It is Saturday, so I manage to get a few hours of yard work in before it gets too hot, then go into the office to catch up on a few things. I discover I am having a hard time making basic decisions. When I stop at the grocery store on the way home, I can’t decide if I should buy lettuce or applesauce. So I buy chocolate donuts. Plus, the grocery store keeps moving things around so I spend a long time finding just a few items. Usually when this happens, I call home and ask my wife where to find things. But she is in Denver and I resolve to take one for the team and do it on my own. Sometimes you have to show a little courage.

When I get home, I have to feed the cat (lots of food!), clean the litter box, make something to eat, clean up, sweep the sun room floor (spilled a few things there) and answer some e-mails. My wife and I often take walks and I consider that option but it’s hot outside and, besides, I’m pretty much exhausted. She’s been gone barely 24 hours, I’m practically in a coma and the cat is looking at me with that evil black cat look in her eyes, as if it’s my fault her favorite person isn’t here. I know the cat is plotting another 4 a.m. attack.

It could be a long week. I guess it’s a good thing I took some emergency action and bought some Klondikes to go with the chocolate donuts to get me through the week. Both the cat and I will be happy when someone gets back home.

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