17 March 2006

A letter from John

by Anton Piatek

“Please be aware that as your wives age, it is harder for them to maintain the same quality of housekeeping as when they were younger. When you notice this, try not to yell at them. Some are oversensitive, and there is nothing worse than an oversensitive woman.

Let me relate how I handled the situation with my wife, Marsha. When I was laid off from my consulting job and took early retirement in April, it became necessary for Marsha to get a full-time job, both for extra income and for the health insurance benefits we needed.

Shortly after she started working, I noticed she was beginning to show her age. I usually get home from the golf course about the same time she gets home from work, and although she knows how hungry I am, she rests for an hour or so before she starts dinner. I don’t yell at her. Instead, I tell her to take her time and just wake me when she gets dinner on the table. I generally have lunch in the Men’s Grill at the club, so eating out is not reasonable. I’m ready for some home-cooked grub when I hit that door.

She used to do the dishes as soon as we finished eating, but now it’s not unusual for them to sit on the table for several hours after dinner. I do what I can by diplomatically reminding her several times each evening that they won’t wash themselves. I know she appreciates this, as it does seem to motivate her to get them done before she goes to bed. I really think my old job as a consultant helps a lot. Telling people what they ought to do is one of my strong points.

Also, now that she has gotten older, she does seem to get tired so much more quickly. Our washer-dryer is in the basement, and sometimes she says she just can’t make another trip down those steps. I don’t make a big issue of this, just as long as she finishes up the laundry the next evening. I’m willing to overlook her shortcomings in this area. Unless I need something ironed to wear to the Monday lodge meeting, or to the Wednesday and Saturday poker club, or to Tuesday’s and Thursday’s bowling, I’ll tell her to wait until the next evening to do the ironing. This gives her a little more time to do some of those odds and ends, like shampooing the dog, vacuuming and dusting.
If I had a really bad day on the course and it was wet and muddy and my clubs are a mess, I let her clean them, you know, getting the grit off the grips and a little light Brillo on the club faces. Since my golf bag is heavy, I lift it out of the trunk for her. Women are delicate, have weak wrists and can’t lift heavy stuff as good as men. But I had to tell her that I don’t like to be wakened during my after-golf nap, so rather than bother me, she can put them back in the trunk when she’s finished.

Another symptom of aging is complaining, I think. For example, she will say that it is difficult for her to find time to pay the monthly bills during her lunch hour. But boys, we take ’em for better or worse, so I just smile and offer encouragement. I tell her to stretch it out over two or even three days. That way she won’t have to rush so much. I also remind her that missing lunch completely now and then wouldn’t hurt her any (if you know what I mean). I like to think tact is one of my strong points.

When doing simple jobs, she seems to think she needs more rest periods. She had to take a break when she was only half finished mowing the yard. I try to not make a scene. I’m a fair man. I tell her to fix herself a nice, big, cold glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade and just sit for a while. And, as long as she is making one for herself, she may as well make one for me, too, then take a break by my hammock. That way we can talk until I fall asleep.

I know that I probably look like a saint in the way I support Marsha, but I’m not saying that showing this much consideration is easy. Many men will find it difficult. Some will find it impossible! Nobody knows better than I do how frustrating women get as they get older. However, guys, even if you just use a little more tact and less criticism of your aging wife because of this letter, I will consider that writing it was worthwhile. After all, we are put on this earth to help each other.
Regards, John.”

Editor’s Note: John died suddenly Thursday, May 19th. He was found on the golf course with a broken Big Bertha Golf Driver lying beside his body. His wife Marsha was arrested, but after the jury read this letter, they accepted her defence that he accidentally sat on it. She was released from custody on Friday.