Fourteen years, I’m certain she was shocked we’d made it this far and had likely thought about leaving at least a couple of times a week from about year four onwards. I believed I must have some magical powers that kept her hanging in. What else could it be?
Me, I’m just an average guy with an average job. Two nights a week at the local tavern with the boys plus golf in the summer and curling all winter long. Never less than five or six cases of empties waiting to be returned to the beer store and a fridge full of new ones just waiting for me to walk past. Trust me the wait is never a long one.
Then there are the chores, I’m not much for yard work, gardening, cleaning, cooking, or renovations. Now the cars in the driveway, that’s a different story. The neighbours have been complaining to the city for years about the makeshift garage they believe I operate from the side of my home.
Truth be told I’d punched well above my pay grade in the partner department. The better half in this case really meant ‘better’ and it wasn’t a close race. My best pal Cameron would joke that half was generous, it was more like a three quarter, one quarter relationship. He may have taken a couple of shots to the back of the head for it, but he was ultimately right.
And so it goes that on the occasion of our 14th anniversary, I walk through the front door empty handed, well actually not empty handed but with two cases of lager, to my woman waiting to greet me. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to see rage flash in her eyes.
In an instant she’d flown off the handle, hurling a barrage of angry sentiment in my direction but in true husband fashion, I flipped my man switch and tuned most of it out. I was fixated on the delightful aromas coming from the kitchen. Damn, it smelled good and I was hungry. Too bad it would never pass my wanting lips.
At that moment I realized she’d been cooking something special all day and my head began to race. Jesus, fack, what had I forgotten. To be completely honest it wasn’t the first time I’d forgotten a birthday or anniversary or some other date she’d arbitrarily deemed special. It was her reaction that was different, like a climber at the end of a frayed rope or worse yet halfway down as the rope snapped under the weight of years of neglect.
I snapped into the moment, back from the mini-stroke of a panic attack I’d been having to see she was quite serious as she looked me straight in the eye and said, “You are the worst human being I’ve ever known. For 14 years I’ve put up with you and all your bullsh…,” even in anger she couldn’t bring herself to cuss me out. “Why, because I loved you from the moment I set eyes on you!” she continued. “All I have ever asked is that you acknowledge me more often than when you crawl into bed wearing beer goggles. Don’t even try some lame excuse. It ain’t gonna fly, no more.”
With that she turned heel and headed to the bedroom, slamming the door behind herself. When her English started to falter you knew it was serious. About 25 minutes later when her Mama pulled into the drive, my girl stormed out the front door with her suitcase in tow. Through the front window, I saw her look back only once and with dry-eyed resolve she jumped into the car…
It’s been two years since she left me and I must admit I miss her now and again. Today as I sit alone with a cold one, the words on the radio take me back to the night she quit me for good…
That’s why I’m sittin’ on the front steps,
Staring down the road, wond’rin’ if she’ll come back –
This time I don’t know.
After she packed, when she looked back
There were no tears in her eyes,
And that’s got me worried thinking
Maybe my baby’s gotten good at goodbye.
Nothing like a little George Strait to help jog one’s memory but the moment passes, the boys are down at the pub and the beer’s cold and waiting.