Column: Til death do us part is a long time


I read a joke once that said, “Smashing one’s thumb with a hammer is how the first cuss word came into existence.” I have my doubts. I think the introductory curse spewed forth the day the earliest newlyweds got home from their honeymoon and realized how long “til death us do part” was really going to take. The reason I’m considering this to be in the vicinity of truth and reliability is that I’ve noticed another phenomenon that has to do with older folks who’ve been married a long time. They often have teeth that are worn down to nubbins. I might not have the scientific explanation for how this happens, but I have another version and it’s probably more accurate. People who’ve been married for decades have teeth problems because they’ve been gritting them since right after they said, “I do.”

After death, Gar doesn’t want to be cremated. I’m fairly sure he doesn’t want it before death either, but he’s never said so maybe that’s an option. I’m not sure if I’ll honor any request since I can take frugal and spin it into a whole new realm. I told him I’d take a shoe box and hot-glue a piece of cardboard down the middle as a divider. It’d be a his/hers urn and amazingly cost-effective. Since he’s never sure if I’m serious or jesting, he grimaces quite a lot.

Three years ago, when Gar sprung the idea on me that we should winter in Florida, I was on board and happily loaded the truck and camper then he mentioned taking a lot of tools. He hoped to be able to help with homes destroyed by hurricanes, so he decided to take every hand and electric gadget he owned. Then he included a large, heavy, cumbersome 4-foot by 2 1/2-foot table saw. I was not tickled about taking this apparatus; thus we had multiple “discussions,” not the least of which was about how it would be transported and where it would be stored. We ended up getting it to Pensacola by strapping it to the luggage rack on the back of the camper. Think Beverely Hillbillies.

Upon arrival, we had to heave-ho like sailors, through doors and around corners, to get it into our daughter’s storage. Did I mention how much I thought bringing this was a bad idea? The kicker was the monstrosity never moved from that spot one inch in three years, except for the times I bumped into it with my shins, attempting to get around it to get something I was really glad we’d brought. I readily admit to cussing the saw and the saw’s owner, and oftentimes gritting my teeth.

Last spring, we helped our daughter, Lunny, move from Pensacola, and as we studied the belongings in her storage, the saw was a hot topic. Our son, Tanner, and grafted-in-daughter, Wendy, offered to take it if need be, but Gar didn’t want them to feel obligated. During one discussion, we talked about selling it at a friend’s yard sale, which was just up the street. After packing up the storage all day and loading boxes into the U-Haul, the saw was sitting to the side, and I noticed Gar contemplating it. Finally, I heard him sigh, and turning to me said, “I think I’ll just take it home with us.” I gawked at him, dumbfounded. Then through squinted eyes and clenched jaws, I hissed, “I didn’t want to bring it in the first place, it’s never moved the whole time here, now we have a chance to give it to our kids or sell it, and you’re getting all sentimental and want to haul it 1,900 miles back home, only to put it back in our storage?” You might have heard me screech this because I’m pretty sure my voice was booming just a tiny bit. Gar and Lunny were staring at me. After a second, I matter-of-factly and without mirth, stated, “Fine, we’ll haul it back home, but you’d better hope I die before you do because if you go first, whether I put you in a shoebox or in a coffin, there won’t be a headstone. No, I’m gonna put that saw right at the head of your grave.” For a count of three, all was quiet as the dead, no pun intended, then we all burst into guffaws.

In the end Tanner said Wendy really wanted it and we happily loaded it into their truck, perhaps saving a marriage … or a life.

Trena Eiden [email protected]

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