It only recently occurred to me that it’s been one year now since my husband retired, an event I was not looking forward to. I’m not the first woman who has at least thought, if not said, “I married him for better or for worse, but not for lunch” — although actually, at one point in our lives (when the kids were little), he did used to come home for lunch, and I enjoyed having a hot meal on the table for him. That was a long time ago.
So here we are, a year later, and it hasn’t been as bad as I’d feared. I truly was afraid that he would be one of those horrible men I see wandering the supermarket with their wives, badgering the poor woman about all her choices; I always want to say, “Hey, she managed the house just fine without you for 35 or 40 years, so buzz off, buzzard!!” and manage to restrain myself only with difficulty, which gets harder as you get older.
Fortunately, my husband has found many other things to occupy his time, mostly having to do with selling his father’s house. He made two trips to NJ to clean the place out, in November and December, and we spent much of last winter sorting through the stuff he brought home, which wasn’t as bad as it could have been; he only brought home photo albums (still to be gone through) and tons of paper with confidential information on it because my in-laws never threw anything out. Most of that went into the shredder (thank goodness for shredders).
In July he actually managed to unload the place, albeit at substantially under market value, mostly due to the fact that the in-laws hadn’t done a thing to the place since they bought it in 1973. We debated updating it, and decided to put it on the market at a rock-bottom price (which was still about twice what they paid for it), and let the new owner do all the upgrading; and that turned out to be a good approach, since we got our asking price. I would want that, too, so I could make my new abode my own that way.
And there has been the Garden. Ever since we moved here, 24 years ago, my husband has had a vegetable garden. He grows tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, mostly, all organically — we make and use all our own compost — and from time to time we have Unexpected crops, like tomato plants he didn’t buy (they came from seeds we threw away), and very often, a bumper crop of potatoes, which are a whole new ball game when you grow them yourself. One year he planted pumpkin seeds, and we had pumpkins for about five years after that (and no clue how to cook them, sooooo….).
But now the house is sold, the paper is mostly sorted through, and the garden is going to sleep for the season. There is still the cellar to clean out; it used to be a very nice family room till the kids moved out and started storing all their stuff down there, and now it looks like most people’s cellars. When priests come to bless the house, we always ask them just to “throw some holy water down there,” and since they all have families and Stuff themselves, they know where we’re coming from.
I confidently expect this project to take a couple of winters. After that — I don’t know. But at least he doesn’t follow me around the supermarket, mostly because I send him with a list and some money. Gives me more time for cross stitch.