Celebrating With My Third Husband

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Anniversary week at Cannon Beach, bundled up even in the sun. #worthit

 

There’s a quote by Margaret Mead that says “I’ve been married three times, and not one of them was a failure.” (I also saw “I’ve been married three times, and each time I married the right person.”). In any case, I do like to joke that I’ve been married three times, even though I’ve only had one wedding.

I just celebrated ten years with husbands two and three, but before you think polygamy, keep reading.

I met my first “husband” in college and we stayed together over 10 years. While we never legally married, we bought a house and raised kitties together. When we split up, it was mostly because we’d found we wanted different things in life. We’re still in touch and I still love him as a dear friend, and cherish his parents as my former “in-laws.”

Then I was single for a while, before meeting my next beloved husband, whom I married at a wonderful wedding celebration in 2007. I was married to this man for almost 7 years before he had a life-changing stroke while we were in Hawai’i in 2014.

My third husband, the stroke survivor, shares many of the same cherished qualities as my second husband – he’s kind, determined, motivated, curious, physically restless – but he also has his own unique qualities.

This latest hubby is a talker, a wordy person. The previous husband wasn’t as verbally expressive, and didn’t like to goof around with words the way I do. Now, #3 has taken over the gift of gab in our household. He’s always rhyming, making up kooky plays on words, punning like a madman. As a Gemini, this is upsetting, since that has always been my lane. He makes me laugh a lot though, even when I’m trying desperately to get my own quips in. It’s like the world’s worst improv show at our house.

He has also taken up writing, an activity that his predecessor would never have sat still for. In fact, since I left my computer at home accidentally while on our trip (I had such good intentions to use it, too), I had to fight to use his for a few minutes as he worked on his latest blog post. He loves to chat with random strangers, an activity that introverts like us rarely engage in, and which I still find disorienting.

#3 also often wakes up with a “song of the day” in his head. There is no logic to the song it is, which is mystifying. Where do these songs come from? Trust me, it’s doubtful he’s heard these songs in the recent past to draw from; recently, a Simon & Garfunkel song made an appearance. Tomorrow it might be Pat Benatar, you just can’t tell.

He’s more impatient than my second husband. Which is ironic, because this is another example of where roles have changed. Impatience is a special skill I possess, whether it’s while driving or waiting in lines. I inherited this from my father, I consider it my genetic birthright. Hubby #2 used to tell me to relax, nothing could be done about it anyway. I used to tell him to shut the f*%k up because being frustrated was how NORMAL people reacted. Now I have to be the one who slows our roll, because getting #3 stressed out is not helpful or healthy. I’m sure it’s been good for me as well – all that fuming about things isn’t a great use of energy (although I will never be okay with people who don’t know how to merge onto the freeway, so please just figure out where the gas pedal is already).

I’ve often thought that I wasn’t really a grown up until I met husband #3. I guess I’m version 3.0 as well. We’ve all been the right person, and not one of us has been a failure – we’ve just been evolving. I am incredibly lucky to have spent these last ten years married to two of the most wonderful men imaginable. And I’m not sure what Margaret Mead would think, but three marriages seems like plenty.

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Dancing in the Rain

Scan_20150628Shortly after Doug returned from in-patient rehab in Hawaii over a year ago, I gave him the card pictured. I knew I had to get him this card, both for the obvious reasons of trying to gain perspective on our suddenly changed lives, but also because we’ve had a long-running joke about Doug’s lack of innate dancing ability. He’ll be the first to admit it – he just doesn’t have great rhythm! We darkly joked that his stroke might actually improve things a bit. And then there’s the rain piece – as the boy absolutely hates rain, which I find mystifying since he chose to move here of his own volition 18 years ago from California. Maybe he had some sixth sense about what climate change was going to entail.

Speaking of which, remember when we used to have “Juneuary” a few years ago, freezing our tails off? And now it’s as hot as a cat on a hot tin roof – or:

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What? I can’t perspire, you know!

In addition to dramatic felines (we call this particular pose “boudoir kitty”), the chickens have been panting all day while hunkered down in the coolest part of their yard. As for our geriatric dogs, their nights upstairs with us have been hell. I finally decided to leave them in the basement last night until one of them started howling at 3. Luckily, by then it had cooled down to 75 or so in our room and they could manage okay.

After reading Cliff Mass’s latest blog post “Heat and Thunder,” I was really hoping for some rain but wasn’t sure it would happen in Seattle or further east. When it started clouding up this morning, I thought, let’s do this! And it did rain – enough to give the thirsty plants a small drink and cool the air a bit. I was so giddy I ran outside and did a little dance in it! Doug said he used to do that growing up in Phoenix when the monsoons would come in August. This wasn’t a monsoon but I felt like that, a sense of relief and excitement. See what growing up in the Northwest will do to you? But as Cliff and all the weather forecasts show, it’s another super hot week and weekend on the way. Guess we’d better learn how to dance in the baking sun instead.

Taking PT to the Outdoors

shoreview-parkDoug and I were never avid hikers, we’d probably go for 3-4 hikes a year, plus a snowshoeing trip or two in the winter. Of course, we didn’t hike at all last summer, nor did we snowshoe this winter. Doug skied with Outdoors for All until he had his first seizures in February, which coincided with the unfortunate lack of snow here in the Pacific Northwest. Still, we have really missed getting out of the city and breathing in the pine-scented air.

So, we’ve been hoping to work back up to some short hikes again, but the uneven terrain is hard for Doug, who’s dealing with tone in his foot and is still working to get his gait more even. He has found it especially uncomfortable to go down any type of hill, mostly because of his toes curling up under him. As he posted last week, he just had botox in his foot for the first time (think of a giant thorn being jammed into your arch, if you need an idea of what that feels like) and he’s already noticed a huge difference with his foot relaxing.

Yesterday, we were running an errand up north that was going to overlap with the lunch hour, so I thought we should take advantage of the situation. Plus, we needed a change of scenery. We’re homebodies by nature, but when you have more limits on what you can do, it starts to become more like housebound.

I packed a picnic lunch (I got us a sweet picnic tote last year that has plates, utensils and ice pack holders and we hadn’t had a chance to use it yet) and off we went to Shoreview Park in Shoreline. We used to go there frequently when we lived in Ballard, taking the dogs  with us along wooded trails and creeks. It’s a lovely park, it really does feel like you’ve left the city. We felt twinges of nostalgia being there again, especially without the two old mutts.

We took a .5 mile loop to “Hidden Lake” and Doug did awesome, even on the trail part, some of which was fairly steep going down. The botox is doing its job! We sat and had our  picnic on a platform overlooking the lake and had a cherry pit spitting contest. I totally won. I told Doug the hiking was great PT for him, but nothing compared to practicing his “oooh” like he had to when he had speech therapy back in Hawaii. He always did hate doing those exercises, so if it takes eating cherries, so be it.

It was a great step forward and we’re hoping to get out and do more short hikes – Doug was definitely tired afterwards but it was so nice being outside in the quiet tranquil forest again.

 

National Stroke Awareness Month – Caregiver Perspective

Doug at the Rose Garden in Portland last fall.

Doug at the Rose Garden in Portland last fall.

May is not just bike month, it’s also National Stroke Awareness Month. As the wife and caregiver of a stroke survivor, it seemed like a good time to talk a little bit about what it’s like to be a caregiver.

Our situation is not common – Doug is young (43 when he had his stroke) and had no risk factors commonly associated with strokes. Quite the opposite – he is very fit, eats well, low cholesterol and blood pressure, and never smoked. This has been one of ways we’re more fortunate than many stroke survivors. Although Doug’s stroke was severe with full left-side paralysis (his non-dominant side), his age, fitness and strength allowed him to regain the ability to walk fairly quickly. His stroke didn’t result in as many cognitive or language problems (aphasia) as someone who has a stroke on the left side of the brain. Doug is also highly motivated and really works hard to keep improving, something that proves challenging for many survivors and their caregivers. Continue reading

Serendipity-do

dippity-doWhen I was a kid, I loved those jars of bright pastel colored hair gel called Dippity-Do. It still exists, but is in a boring squeeze jar, not this lovely magical tub. This and Aqua Net were the go-to hair products of the day, not that any of them ever helped me achieve the lasting curls I so fervently wanted. I used to do extravagant things to get my hair to curl, including perms using the tiniest rollers and the harshest chemicals available. I sometimes ended up with some waves in my hair and though it wasn’t what I’d dreamed, I was still happier than living with my snarl-infested, stick-straight hair (why do we say this – some sticks are definitely not straight…). I have long since given up on this goal, much to my toxin-level’s benefit, and often run into people with natural curls who tell me they always wanted straight hair like mine. Grass is always greener…but not as green as Dippity-do! Continue reading

Pizza Friday

We usually have pizza every Friday. I make a batch of dough from my favorite bread cookbook, Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast and then we put it together and cook it on a stone in the grill. This week I was too tired on Thursday to make dough, so we’re having pizza Saturday instead, meeting our friends at one of the neighborhood spots. We’ll get to see how our friend Tess does eating with her left hand only – she broke her ELBOW of all things on Thursday when she fell while running. Since Doug’s stroke affected his left side and he still has little use of that hand, we joked that if we joined him and Tess side by side, they’d be a person with two working hands! Oh, man. She’ll be having surgery this week to put a pin in the bone that is 2 inches away from where it’s supposed to be. Gruesome. Continue reading