Carson, my Norwegian friend from Rapid City, called me yesterday from his motorhome in Arizona while on vacation. He told me that his wife was along on the vacation too since South Dakota was experiencing a rough winter with plenty of snow. She was worn out from shoveling their sidewalk and back porch. He said he was working on his new toy, a 1923 souped up hot rod with a 350 Chevy engine all winter and didn’t have time to shovel the snow. He also told me he had sold his business a year ago and was in full retirement. He said that he had sent me a letter which I just received sharing the joys of retirement. It reads…
When I chucked my job and took early retirement a year ago, it became necessary for Nancy to get a full-time job both for extra income and for health insurance benefits that we need. She was a trained lab tech when we met thirty some years ago and was fortunate to land a job at the local medical center as a phlebotomist.
It was shortly after she started working at this job that I noticed that she was beginning to show her age. I usually get home from fishing or hunting about the same time she gets home from work. Although she knows how hungry I am, she almost always says that she has to rest for half an hour or so before she starts supper. I try not to yell at her when this happens. Instead, I tell her to take her time. I understand that she is not as young as she used to be. I just tell her to wake me when she finally does get supper on the table.
She used to wash and dry the dishes as soon as we finished eating. It is now not unusual for them to sit on the table for several hours after supper. I do what I can by reminding her several times each evening that they aren’t cleaning themselves. I know she appreciates this, as it does seem to help her get them done before she goes to bed.
Our washer and dryer are in the basement. When she was younger, Nancy used to be able to go up and down the stairs all day and not get tired. Now that she is older she seems to get tired so much more quickly. Sometimes she says she just can’t take another trip down those steps. I don’t make a big issue of this. As long as she finishes up the laundry the next evening I am willing to overlook it. Not only that, but unless I need something ironed to wear to the Monday’s lodge meeting or to Wednesday’s or Saturday’s motorcycle ride or to Tuesday’s or Thursday’s bowling or something like that, I will tell her to wait until the next evening to do the ironing.
This gives her a little more time to do some of those odds and ends things like shampooing the dog, vacuuming, or dusting. Also, if I have had a really good day fishing, this allows her to gut and scale the fish at a more leisurely pace.
Nancy is starting to complain a little occasionally. Not often, mind you, but just enough for me to notice. For example, she will say that it is difficult for her to find time to pay the monthly bills during her lunch hour. In spite of her complaining, I continue to try to offer encouragement. I tell her to stretch it out over two or even three days. That way she won’t have to rush so much. I also remind her that missing lunch completely now and then wouldn’t hurt her any, if you know what I mean.
When doing simple jobs she seems to think she needs more rest periods than she used to have to take. A couple of weeks ago she said she had to take a break when she was only half finished mowing the grass. I overlook comments like these because I realize it’s just age talking. In fact, I try to not embarrass her when she needs these little extra rest breaks. I tell her to fix herself a nice, big, cold glass of freshly squeezed lemonade and just sit for a while. I tell her that as long as she is making one for herself, she may as well make one for me and take her break by the hammock so she can talk with me until I fall asleep.
I could go on and on, but I think you know where I’m coming from. I know that I probably look like a saint in the way I support Nancy on a daily basis. I’m not saying that the ability to show this much consideration is easy. Many men will find it difficult. Some will find it impossible. No one knows better than I how frustrating women can become as they get older. My purpose in writing this is simply to suggest that you make the effort. I realize that achieving the exemplary level of showing consideration I have attained is out of reach for the average man.