Before I lose you
“I would like to grow old with you, before I lose you.
“You may lose me, first, for I am not all so very young, anymore. But I will take care of myself so that I live to see your life. You will grow old like a thick vine, still flowering.
“I would like to see you wear that same turquoise dress with white flowers when your hair has turned white.
“I would not like you to cut your wiry hair, but to wear it long: proudly but messily the way beautiful old women who like to garden or make art do. I would like to grow old with you before I lose you.”
—Waylon Lewis, “Things I Would Like to Do with You”
Who wouldn’t love reading or listening to words like those coming from one’s partner in life? But the chances of that happening are one in a million. One is better off listing down those things that make life with The Other livable from day to day.
I can list down things I WON’T like to do with him, firstly, because we don’t have the financial resources to visit these places in other people’s bucket list, and secondly, because I don’t want to risk what little else is left of my life and my creaky limbs.
I won’t do extreme skiing in Wyoming, cliff camping, climbing the Redwoods, sitting on the Trolltunga rock in Norway, rock climbing in South Africa, ice climbing a frozen waterfall, skywalking on Mount Nimbus, Canada, extreme kayaking at Victoria Falls, diving 30 meters through a rock monolith in Portugal, and many more suicidal ventures.
Let’s just say work is my husband’s real wife. I am the mistress, but unlike your typical image of the mistress who prettifies and perfumes herself while waiting for the visit of the beloved, I’m dressed in my ukay-ukay daster all day. I face the computer, not the dresser mirror.
Before hubby leaves for work around noontime, I’m still at it, encoding my stuff or editing the occasional manuscript thrown my way so I earn pin money for stationery items, books and art materials I like to purchase, and eating out with friends. I don’t have any food prepared for the family breadwinner. It’s up to him where he will forage for his lunch. The same “arrangement” goes for dinner, but usually I text him to buy a take-out meal which we can share.
Breakfast is my responsibility — sunny-side up eggs for him, well-done egg yolk for me or soft-boiled egg for him, hard one for me with an aside from him that it’s because I’m hardheaded. Or we have toast with butter and jam or chicken liver pâté. He takes and makes the coffee, I have cold milk chocolate in a glass each morning. We’ve got this routine down pat.
I’m extremely thankful for these breakfasts. It reminds me so much about that quotation from writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh: “A simple enough pleasure, surely, to have breakfast alone with one’s husband, but how seldom married people in the midst of life achieve it.”
More than our brekkie togetherness, I’m grateful he washes the dishes afterwards while I return to my writing, revising, or editing. He knows that I can’t afford to miss a date with The Muse. Early morning is my most productive time.
He also sweeps the floor, gathers the trash on the first and second levels of our home and throws it in the village bin. He used to do the weekly wet marketing until he found the public market too filthy. Now he buys the meats, fish and veggies from the supermarket. He has a rice and egg suki and brings a woven native egg basket with him in the car so the eggs don’t get broken.
I always tell him that should the time come when either of us goes, let me be the one to depart first because I don’t know the first thing about running a house. It sounds selfish, I know, but it’s the truth!
Housework is not my métier. I’d rather try my hand in writing an epic poem than cook family meals daily or—horrors!—go to market and mentally plan a week’s menu based on what’s available in the vendors’ stalls. He does those so well.
Once, my grandchild stopped in her tracks, turned and addressed me: “You know what, Booboo (her term of endearment for me), you’re lucky!”
Surprised, I asked, “Why am I lucky?”
She answered, “Unlike Tats (her term for her lolo) and Mamay (her mother), you don’t have to work or go to an office.”
She repeated, “You’re lucky, Booboo.”
I agree. I found a partnership that works for both parties. It may not be soul-lifting romance, but my goodness, it works!
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Elizabeth Lolarga, 62, is a freelance writer-editor and painter preparing for a show in the ‘ber months.
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