‘As long as you both shall live’
Vail CO, Colorado
Steve rolled his truck; his wife Susan was inconsolable. That was the gossip I picked up at a local ski shop last Saturday. The news was delivered by Pete, who was on his way to pick up Steve’s wife and take her to the emergency room.
“She’s in no condition to drive,” Pete said.
The good news is, other than some bumps and bruises, Steve is fine. This was a result of both good luck and a good choice of vehicle. I don’t know this for a fact, but I would imagine that, since the accident, both Steve and Susan have an added appreciation for life and each other.
Later in the day my mate and I were having coffee at home while I was telling her about my friend’s close call.
“Steve rolled his truck this morning,” I said. “Susan was inconsolable.”
We both rejoiced in Steve’s good fortune. Ellen even threatened to make him some of her world famous lima bean muffins to aid in his recovery; I told her I did not think it necessary.
Despite my better judgment I asked my mate, “Would you be inconsolable if I rolled my truck?”
“What are your injuries?” Ellen immediately asked.
“What does it matter?” I answered back in a slightly raised voice, “I just rolled my stinking truck!”
My mate knew she was treading on thin ice but she could not help herself. You see Ellen has a problem with honesty ” she insists on always telling the truth.
“Well obviously if you were seriously hurt I’d be inconsolable, but if you just were just banged up a little I probably would be able to be consoled.”
She saw the look on my face then added quickly, “It wouldn’t be easy to console me; it would take some effort.” She went on: “But if anything seriously were to happen to you, if I lost you, I’d be a wreck. I don’t care how good the skiing was.”
“Now that’s more like it,” I said.
When I took my wedding vows, “Until death do us part,” I didn’t think much about it. I was more concerned with Ellen’s last minute veto of the “honor and obey” part. But now as we both get older there is no getting around the fact that, if statistics bear out, my mate will one day be a widow.
I have a lot going against me. I’m over a decade older than she, way more stressed, and I participate in high risk activities she avoids ” like rock climbing, road biking and cleaning toilets.
On the plus side, I’m more preventive-health aware. I ski much more slowly and I never drive a car while listening to an I-Pod, talking on my cell phone, applying sunscreen and steering with my knees.
Sometimes after watching a sad movie, where a couple is parted by death, Ellen will hug me and say, “I could not live with out you. I hope I die first.” I’ll invariably give her a squeeze back and respond, “Me too.”
There again, statistically there is little chance of that.
I honestly believe my mate and I together are far happier than the sum of our parts. If something were to happen to her, after the novelty of a clean house wore off, I’d be a mess. But certainly if I were to go first, of course I’d want her to be happy.
And that being the case, there is so much I’d like to tell her so she could get on with her life. Perhaps now is the time.
So Ellie if there comes a day that I’m not as lucky as our friend Steve and you are left alone, here is some stuff you need to know.
The fuse box is in the basement in the boiler room. The vacuum cleaner takes U-type bags ” don’t be afraid, it is easy to operate. We pay taxes in April ” call Debbie A., our accountant. The trash goes out on Tuesday, and the recycle before it smells. Make sure you have your oil changed regularly and check the air in your tires before long trips. But most importantly, remember to have fun, enjoy each day and if you fall in love again that’s OK as long as he treats you well and is a liberal.
But after having said all that the optimist in me hopes that neither of us will have to experience life without the other. Certainly the best case scenario would be for us to go together, maybe in some sort of fiery crash. Now that’s a feel-good scenario with which we both can live …
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com. Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com.