Several of you got a chuckle over my recent observations on a survey from the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia that says a good way to improve your marriage is to show gratitude to your spouse. As one reader told me, groveling doesn’t hurt, either.
One member of the college’s faculty didn’t find it all that knee-slapping. She posited that “sexism is alive and well” unless I had a catfish in my cheek when I wrote the column. Academicians say the darnedest things.
She added that if I wasn’t kidding — Me? Kid? You’ve got to be kidding! — “The Woman Who Shares My Name must be a saint.” Bingo! The person (wink! wink!) has done her homework. If she would like to undertake additional research, I can furnish her the names of a number of distinguished members of the faculty in several schools and colleges at the university as well as within the UGA administration that will tell her she may be guilty of gross understatement.
Alas, the Woman Who Shares My Name isn’t feeling saintly these days. She tripped getting out of the shower recently, fell and broke her leg and required surgery. Coincidentally, her surgeon, Dr. Stephen W. Smith, is a managing trustee of the UGA Foundation. We like to keep things in the family.
Now she faces several weeks of painful but necessary rehab to ensure she is up and running in time for Christmas. In the meantime, I have had time to reflect on the surreal experience and to be thankful for what didn’t happen. She could easily have been paralyzed had she landed on her head instead of her hip.
I had planned to be out of town at a meeting of Methodist ministers and laity from across north Georgia but decided to stay only one night instead of two. After a lifetime spent on airplanes and in hotel rooms, I avoid being away from home as much as possible. Had I gone as originally planned, she could have laid in the floor for a day or so before anyone, including me, would have found her. That gives me nightmares.
The past couple of weeks have been a learning experience. I have discovered I am not as much in charge as I thought. Somewhere along the way, my kids lost their awe of my ability to manage complex situations. Or said another way, they know befuddled when they see it. Most of my directives have been met with, “We’ve already talked about that, Dad, and here is what we have decided to do.” Oh.
I have taken to calling them Bossy Boy and Bossy Girl, but seeing how that is likely to be viewed by some as more evidence of my sexist attitudes, I will simply call them Bossy One and Bossy One-A. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what I call them, they are running the show. They did allow me to order their mother’s lunch one day. That was a real ego-booster and a sign of their growing confidence in my leadership skills.
I am also finding out what The Woman Who Shares My Name does when I am behind closed doors preparing to jerk the chains of the humor-impaired. It is a lot. Take our laundry. Please. Our washing machine and dryer closely resemble the cockpit of an Airbus A330, only more complicated. I have noticed when I am out of the room, somebody stuffs the clothes hamper full. I pack it all in the washer, hit buttons at random, wait for a buzzer and then dump it all in the dryer and push more buttons. The clothes come out clean and dried — and severely wrinkled.
I have done a bit of grocery shopping, but without coupons. This is will be very upsetting to you-know-who when she finds out. Her 11th Commandment is Thou Shalt Not Buy Anything Unless It Is on Sale and/or Two for One. I have also managed to do the banking, pay the bills, water the plants and carry out the trash without being reminded. But I am clearly in over my head and with much gratitude I look forward to returning the reins of responsibility back to her.
To the public service associate in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia: I don’t have a catfish in my cheek when I say you were spot on about The Woman Who Shares My Name. She is a saint. No kidding.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb