Mychal Wilmes: Surgery is certain to rattle household

November 20, 2018

Mychal Wilmes

“These are the times that try men’s souls.’’ — Thomas Paine

Using a quote from the great Paine, who was an intellectual leader of the Revolutionary War, might well be overstating the case; then again, it might be understating it, given the challenge that awaits.

Kathy will have carpal tunnel surgery this month, and the outpatient surgery threatens to rattle the household. The surgery will prevent her from doing what she does, which involves, but is not limited to, almost everything.

“Are you ready to handle it?’’ she asked during a brief, quiet moment that followed a question about delaying the surgery until after the holidays.

Thanksgiving is upon us, although the holiday conceived by Abraham Lincoln and formalized by Franklin Roosevelt in 1939, seems to have been ignored by the retail rush to Christmas.

Kathy is an exquisite planner and her skills have been on display. She has baked three pies, given a tutorial to a disinterested student about paying bills online and finished most of the Christmas shopping. Because I have no need for the impractical, I suggested a pair of dress pants and a couple shirts for Christmas. The request assumes that I’ve behaved well enough to earn Santa’s rewards. Be that as it may, it appears I won’t be getting what I need.

“I’m not buying you practical things,’’ she said.

If that’s the case, a convertible might as well be parked in the shed alongside a riding lawnmower with at least two cup holders. Evidence abounds that the world is an upside-down place. As a teenager, I wanted a new bicycle and got underwear and socks instead.

Kathy is in pain, which the surgery will remedy. However, she is also pained by the possibility that I’ll whiff on the new responsibilities, of which there are many. The turkey will need to be stuffed with apples and oranges and made golden brown. Its relative doneness will need estimation and potatoes mushed into a lump-free frenzy. Wavy gravy will be formulated into Elmer’s glue consistency.

We’ll host Thanksgiving eve and Christmas Eve dinners followed by two additional days of making the rounds.

“You’ll need to take me shopping and to meetings, too, because I won’t be able to drive,’’ she said.

I would much rather attempt to comprehend the nonsensical new math than spend hours chauffeuring. The attitude is as shallow as a creek in drought and the sort of selfishness that ought to be beneath a caring person.

The list of responsibilities is remarkably long.

“You’ll need to put up the Christmas tree, too,’’ she said. “Elliot will help you with that.’’

Two kids — one way too big and the other a whirlwind of disorderly energy — will bring out four rather discombobulated cardboard boxes from deep in the closet. One holds the artificial tree that was in mint condition in the early 1990s. The other boxes contain ornaments of great sentimental value.

“You’d better get organized or heaven help us,’’ Kathy said, which is a good summation of what awaits. “You’ll do fine if you’re properly motivated.’’

Organization is not a strong suit and has become even more flimsy in retirement. There are times when I forget which day of the week it is. I can recover when it’s time to vacuum, wash dishes and feed the dog.

We’ll be OK.

What’s important is that the house will be so crowded at Thanksgiving that chairs will need to be carried from the basement and a folding table placed in the living room. The turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce may not match the usual standards, but they will not sicken those who talk and laugh around the tables.

Right now, Kathy and I can only hope and dream that it all turns out fine.

I suspect a statement like “remember that year when the potatoes were so lumpy ...” will be the instigator to many future belly laughs.

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