This next story was to be the ongoing installment of our (mine and Hubby’s) 3-month retirement journey – this was before COVID-19 worked its way into our knowledge.
This was before our kids came to visit us in our bubble of pickleball fun and relaxation in Arizona.
This was before we became disappointed that our activities were being cancelled.
This was before we became shocked and alarmed at the news of a new virus, of illness, of death, and before we became certain we needed to pack our belongings quickly and head home to BC, Canada.
As I’ve had a few weeks to absorb and somewhat adjust to life as it is today, I’m finally able to sit at the computer and edit the story that has sat waiting…. daring me to continue.
The story is trivial in comparison to what is happening in our world but it has given me pause to think about what goes on in the background of people’s lives, what may be happening as they encounter events which forces them to adjust thinking, to correct behaviors or to recognize undesirable actions in themselves.
I wonder how parents are managing cooped up in their homes, floundering with the lack of regular schedules, single people with too many hours without human chats, far too many people without a warm hug or touch, seniors without proper support or not allowed to be near family…and the list goes on.
I’m assuming many of us have seen THAT couple – you know the one, where you are out minding your own business, enjoying a lovely afternoon, perhaps in a store, having just paid for your groceries, daydreaming, walking to your car thinking about a great dinner ahead or some other pleasant thought when suddenly a sound catches your attention.
And, there she is, about twenty feet away but in front of you, and you have nowhere to go but backwards or stop, but no, out of curiosity you keep walking and so does she…talking to herself or at the man who is several steps in front of her.
Maybe… he may be her husband but who can assume that part.
The senior citizen lady is all decked out in coordinated sports clothes, a bright golden tee-shirt and black capri’s and her running shoes are moving like she’s on a march. Her hands are waving with punctuated gestures and some of her fingers are snapping but the words she is speaking which are rushing out at top speed aren’t discernible.
What seems clear by the body language is that the lady is angry. Rigid. Jerky. Words that sound sharp. Clipped.
And what is the assumed husband doing? He’s hanging on to the cart full of groceries with what appears to be a grip like that cart is about to be yanked out of his hands, but he keeps moving forward, never saying a word.
One step at a time until he reaches the car, unlocks the trunk, allows the lid to rise to its top and begins to unload the cart of groceries sliding them into position making sure that nothing will fall over. Every movement careful and deliberate. Quietly.
He then gets into the driver’s side of the car and waits.
Well, if it were me, I’d be curious to know what the problem was and part of me would want to inch myself just a wee bit closer to see what was going to happen next.
Another part of me might wonder what that man had done to spark such animated gestures and feisty one-sided conversation.
But then I’d reach my own car, put away my groceries and upon noticing that nothing violent was happening I’d get into my own thoughts, shake my head perhaps and wonder about such a display of frustration out in public.
I’d smugly think I was so glad it wasn’t me behaving like that and perhaps do a little tsk-tsk as I put my car into reverse, then drive away, on to my own business.
To my utter horror, I discovered that senior citizen couple, that woman, was indeed me.
That was us, that stomping woman and grocery cart man, just a regular looking recently retired couple, trying to adjust to way too much stimulation over a period of weeks while on holiday.
What stopped the whole scenario from moving forward into any more outburst of angry words was me noticing a person I knew, who seemed oblivious to our display and lack of harmony.
As this person rolled her own grocery cart up behind us but across the lane, it startled me into a momentary stunned silence. We then spoke our hellos and exchanged a couple of sentences of words I cannot remember. We said our goodbyes and parted ways.
I got in our car; actually, I slunk into the front passenger side and wanted to crumble right down to the floor.
Hubby backed up the car then drove away.
I felt a hot wave rush to my cheeks and slither over my whole body as I instant re-played the last couple of minutes that I’d been flapping around like a chicken in distress.
Hubby did not say a word; he has a kind of irritating wisdom about him at time likes these.
It took us a couple of days to sort out what had led up to what seemed like a major incident to me but upon reflection and distance, was not.
It took a couple of days because we had to fit communicating into the routine of walking, going to the pool, riding our bicycles to the pickleball courts, eating, watching tv and avoiding talking.
There had been a few separate occasions of attitudes, comments and behaviors which happened that built up because they were not discussed. Perhaps we tired, bored, or some things had not gone our way…?
But then the tiny tipping point happened and is the only item which is discussed here as the other ‘stuff’ is no longer important.
We had come out of the grocery store, I began talking to Hubby about some black barbecues sitting outside the store that I wanted to look at a little bit closer, but I wasn’t looking at him as I moved towards them. I was looking at the barbecues.
Hubby wasn’t looking at me. He was busy watching for cars, crossing the lane and walking himself and the grocery cart in the direction of our parked car; thus, he didn’t hear me speaking.
I kept talking until I finally looked over in the direction of where I thought he’d be, toddling along behind me…he wasn’t.
Upon reflection (a couple days of it) I had been embarrassed, standing around talking to myself, totally not his fault but that didn’t matter in the moment.
I became that woman. You know the rest of the story…
In these last week’s I’ve become so focused on what is truly important.
My family. My friends. My faith – where I get my hope and my peace.
I continue to find joy and laughter in the midst of chaos, fear, yes, some fear, and like you, am daily dealing with new learning curves.
This time of uncertainty is, after all, also the continuing story of mine and Hubby’s retirement journey; writing about it allows me to reflect, burn off some brain energy and helps me adjust to living most of life in the house. The two of us…
We are both adjusting to the reality that he’ll likely be going back to work too soon for my comfort level – for COVID-19 and other critical incident staff support for front line workers in the health care setting.
For now, we walk a bit, we talk, we pray, watch the news and feel whatever comes next.
Please leave your comments and how you are doing during this current season of life.