September 4th, 2011
Henry (not his real name, his real name’s … Britannicus Maximus) drove up to Santa Barbara from our home in L.A. today to pick up our kids at my mom’s house where they and I have been frolicking and creating general mayhem the last several days.
I’m staying on because my mom has decided, after six years of caring for my stepdad after his stroke, that she just can’t do it by herself anymore. We’re moving him on Tuesday from home to an intimate 12-room care facility.
After all these heroic years where she’s been both wife and nurse she’s at the end of her tether. This is yet another example of how really hard things can happen to really lovely people.
But this post is about Henry. Who arrived today like a breath of fresh mowed-lawn air in the nursery of the young, overly-energetic and the elderly-winding-down-on-life’s-journey.
He listened to four women talking at once. His two daughters describing their super-hero drawings and the dragon in Eragon, his wife imploring him to do This and do That, his mother-in-law describing how hard it is to let her own husband go. He listened with equanimity and wisdom. He held all of our hands. Then he went into his step-father-in-law’s bedroom and took his hand.
I can see both these mens’ hands in my mind’s eye. One that had held a gun in World War II, ran a shipping company that covered the globe and expertly fingered the valve pistons of a trumpet to bring the jazz house down, now frail and mottled. The other, younger hand that never held a gun or ran an empire, but bathed his babies’ heads and wrote many beautiful things. There was comfort, communion and brotherhood in those clasped hands.
My husband’s a private man who married me. Poor chap. He finally accepted that I suffer from Indiscretion Illness and told me I could say anything I wanted about him as long as he wasn’t in the room when I said it.
So now that he’s gone home I am free to embarrass him. What follows is my tribute to him in photos and negligible prose, sometimes lapsing into unschooled verse:
His nose is shy. His expression wry. His eyes are an Irish blue. His chin’s unprepossessing, never looking for a fight. He indulges every shrewish, immature flight (of mine). His shoulders are broad, his chest never puffed, he’s simply and indubitably more than enough.He’s a lover of women, two daughters, one wife. Menopause and puberty are coming, Run for your life!
His light saber duels from L.A. to Donegal, are fearsome and epic, yet each time he doth fall. (Edgar Allen Poe, you have no worries).
He has no girlish vanity, he’s too soulful and deep. When he dresses like this I don’t say a peep.
It took him too long to make me his wife (3 years and 2 months, not that I’m counting), but once he did I knew it was for life.
Thank you for my life, manliest of men! I’ve never been more in love with my husband. xo
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