A digression of sorts. Pete and I got married twice. The first time we signed a form in the Coastal Carolina University’s benefits office, and then had it notarized.
I was then teaching in South Carolina and Pete was going to school in Michigan. The second time around we had a simple ceremony and a party. We were then living here. We again tied the knot in Fairbanks.
The second time around, I wrote our wedding vows. Pete didn’t provide input because he was then busy laying in the foundation of our soon to be combination horse shelter/hay barn. Most admittedly, I didn’t take the task of writing up the vows all that seriously. This is because I came of age in the free love generation, where everything and anything goes. Actually, I would gladly have passed on getting married because things seemed to me to be fine the way they were. However, our having been together for 19 years made this event seem like little more than a formality.
I now wish that I had taken the task of writing up our wedding vows more seriously. This is because (I have come to realize) that marriage is a contract. And a marriage ceremony is public acknowledgement that there is a contract. And in this instance, contracts contain vows.
Today the phrase “. . . in sickness and in health” came to mind repeatedly. I don’t know if I included it in our write-up – I might have. Hard to say because I didn’t hang onto the written document after the ceremony. What these words mean is that you will tend to the other person or the other person will tend to you if one or the other of you is slightly or majorly under the weather.
Vows aside, I know of a handful of people who are such good caretakers that they’ll inevitably be nominated for sainthood. One of these people is my sister Eleanor, who for years has been our mother’s caretaker. She (among other things) is Ma’s medical advocate when the occasion permits. She then watches the doctors and nurses like a hawk.
I more than admire such individuals because they have the compassion that I lack.
And really, I wish I was more like them. Rather, I’m a more callous individual.
So right now my husband has a cold. Always, when he gets a cold, a very nasty cough follows. This is as inevitable as bad weather in Southcentral Alaska. I have a hard time dealing with the endless hackin, particularly when (like now) I’m beneath the cloud cover. And I then sometimes grumble and mumble when I’m asked to do things. Add to this, there’s a lot to be done around here. I get by, in part by reminding myself that colds are a short term illness. I can’t imagine what it would be like to care for someone with a long term illness. I hope that I never find out.
Back to the vows. They are a reminder to me that I signed on to this relationship knowing that there would be good times and not so good times. And I’m fortunate that scale around here is usually tipped in favor of the good times. Furthermore, when I’m sick, Pete more than honors his part of the contract.
I can and will do better knowing that in a few day we’ll both be feeling better again.
Next: 17. 1/17/14: Under the Weather, Still