My husband retired last week.
Up until his final day, he worked his job and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
While he tied up loose ends there, guess who kept the home fires burning? Yeah, me.
Guess who got the meals. Can you figure out who cleaned the house? Me. All me.
I didn’t complain, at least out loud. I just kept my head down and plowed through, thinking that soon the other half of the Kincaid work-team would get back on the home track.
His first day home, he said we really needed to start working around the house. In fact, he had a list of 11 things we needed to accomplish over the Memorial Day holiday.
“Hey buster, that’s my time off too,” I protested. And then I reminded him that for the past several months, I’ve been doing everything at home. It’s all rested on these shoulders.
It was like I wasn’t speaking. He just kept adding items to his list.
The designated work day arrived, and he was up early with the coffee pot on to fill me with the life-blood I need every day. And as predicted, it did its job. But it didn’t put me in a good mood.
Thankfully, he never noticed. He was too busy humming and adding a few more chores to his to-do list.
Work began before 8 a.m.
I suggested we work in different rooms, which he thought was a fine idea. He believed that was to make multi-tasking easier. I knew better. I knew we needed separated so I didn’t hurt him as he did his Tasmanian-devil twirl from task to task.
Part of me was hurt that he thought things had fallen into such a state of disrepair in the months he had ignored all things home-related. Hey, I did the best I could do, and if I could live amongst the filth he was imagining there, so could he.
But truth be told, the larger part of me was horrified that this was what life might be like with a retiree: him thinking up work both of us could do.
And on a national holiday.
I remembered hearing the horror stories of others who have gone before me on living that first year with retirees. In the past I scoffed at the tales, certain they were imagined, or at least magnified.
Now I know. They are real, and they are horrid.
“I’m too young to deal with this, and I’m too old to keep up this tremendous work load,” I told myself. Something had to be done, and done quickly.
When we broke for lunch, I decided it was now or never.
“You know,” I began, “you have worked for years with a staff of people. You have been part of a large team that has worked together to accomplish wonderful things.”
He was nodding his head in agreement. I knew I had his attention.
“Well friend, that team is gone. Now, I’m your team, and I can tell you now, your team is not happy.”
I reminded him that team did not mean coach and player. I ranted a little about working together and sharing the vision. At some point I lost track of my argument, but I know I ended my soliloquy with “if mama ain’t happy, nobody is happy.” Perhaps not my finest speech, but it was out there and too late to take back.
Then I walked out to watch Divorce Court. No hidden agenda there, just a smarmy guilty pleasure.
Oh, and I ate a candy bar.
When I returned, he was back at the cleaning. He did tell me I could knock off early if I was tired, but there were only two more things left to do of the 11 originally slotted for the day.
“Doesn’t that make you feel better?” he asked. And, to let me know he understood my earlier concerns, he really did believe the list was something we both wanted to accomplish.
He was serious.
I think somewhere he was trying to fit that “I” in team.
It’s going to be a long retirement adjustment.