Sunday, March 19, 2017

Him



The escapes come often and frequently.  I sit in my wing back chair poised to watch a film.  The slab of chocolate and broken pieces lay on the opened wrapper, my toes touch the floor pointed, raising my knees to  intentionally cradle the contents in my lap.  Birthday chocolate. Precious cargo. These days, I avoid buying chocolate for myself because I have no control.

I guess you could say that we balanced each other out.  This wasn't always the perfect in paradise kind of love.  He loved to eat meat, while I prefer plant based proteins.  He liked the bedroom cold, while I preferred heat.  A soft hearted soul whose kids could talk him into just about anything, especially if it was adventurous and a bit risky, my husband was always full of surprises.  I, on the other hand am more practical and I'd like to think more controlled and logical.  An impulsive, fly by the seat of your pants kind of guy versus a planner, a list maker. We pretty much kept to our roles through over 36 years of marriage, until this summer.

My husband, Jerry never missed a day of work except a few days here and there during hospitalization or following surgery.  This summer, despite lingering unexplained fatigue and pain, he worked through it. Some days it took all of his will to get out of bed, but he made it to work.  In the late afternoon, he would drag himself to the bedroom and lay down.   This summer, work required all of him so by the time he got home, he was spent.

Nearly, everyday for three years, we played Parcheesi.  He was a competitor.  The captain of his football team, a state champion pole vaulter, my husband was tenacious.  These competitive tendencies worked to his benefit while playing board games, too.  Despite feeling rotten, most days this summer he played parcheesi.  He held a stash of Dove Chocolate in the freezer, in a yogurt container labeled, "Frozen Corn."  We were both as serious about our ration of chocolate, as we were about our game. Some nights it was hard to discern whether we played to play or we played to eat chocolate.  In unusual restraint, he allowed us two bits of candy. No more. Both of my candies were unwrapped and devoured before he took his first bite. I always begged for more.  "Can I have one more, please?  Please?  Just one?  Then no more, I promise."

In an unusual stance, he refused my request, " No, save it for later.  We each get two." He wasn't a guy that said no.

I looked at the board and thought about swiping off the smears of chocolate with a sponge after the game.  Seconds later, thinking he might relent. "Chocolate, please?"

Again, I heard, "No."  Strangely, the back and forth resembled an exchange with one of our teenagers.
Night after night played out in a similar fashion.  He held me to two pieces, despite my protests and attempts to wear him down.

Now, I sit in my wing back chair, shoving thick pieces of European chocolate into my mouth.  The first chunk barely melted in my mouth before I shove more in.  I have lost interest in the movie, and  I am not really aware of the quantity of chocolate I have consumed, that is until I look down in my lap and see there are two little pieces left.  Carefully the remaining pieces are wrapped and tucked away for another time.

Everything reminds me of him.  I eat.  I eat.  It does little to fill me up. Vignettes of our life, of him settle in my head replaying. I thought it was the chocolate, but really, I can't get enough...of him.

5 comments:

Mary Ann Reilly said...

I know that sense of hunger that food simply does not fill. I am getting a sense o Jerry through your writing. I would have liked to meet him -- and of course you.

Katie Gordon said...

Oh. Your piece subtly hints at the alteration from the beginning, but it is all the more gripping when it comes.

travelinma said...

My daughter in law, a former journalist wrote his obituary. It is really a great piece of writing and truly gives a sense of who he was. I don't want to force it in you, but if you want I can provide the link.

Sally Donnelly said...

This is the first time for me to your blog. I smiled when I saw the heading photo. In my house the game is scrabble. As I read on, I so enjoyed "watching" you and Jerry play. So sad for your loss. So grateful you can write about your amazing memories.

Judy said...

Such a special man, but I don't know that I'd like the limit of two pieces of chocolate. Thank you for sharing Jerry with us and letting us get to know who he was and how much he meant to you. Hugs