Middle age is hard on children

Courtesy photo

As a licensed private-care caregiver for a lot of years, I’ve observed families and witnessed a few things. In my mind what’s prevalent is that we live these long, vibrant, productive lives, taking care of ourselves and others. Most of us never ask for help and forge boldly to make a life for our family. Then we turn a certain delicate age and our offspring start watching us like they’re our mothers. What a glorious time that will be for Gar and me. I can hardly wait to get marvelous counsel from our kids. If they’re like other people’s children, and I’m sure they are, they’ll tell us to drink more water and stop drinking Pepsi. They’ll say iced tea is the scourge, but flavored water is just the ticket. They’ll encourage us to eat more greens and less carbs, to exercise, walk more, and to basically just get out of the recliner and stop resting. When the kids are in charge, it’ll be wearying for them, and I don’t envy their newly appointed position, but I think we’re going to be up for it. Every now and then when Gar and I lose something, forget a meeting, or can’t remember a name, we say, “Boy, can’t wait for the kids to be responsible for us.” Case in point…

The last few months before retiring from an oilfield service company, Gar had a new boss and a newly hired woman dispatcher. They both came from California, and until being recently employed in Wyoming, had never lived here. To top off this less-than delightful affair, neither had any oilfield experience so oftentimes, Gar found it difficult to get a job completed in a timely manner without a kerfuffle.

One morning, Gar was getting ready to walk out the door while telling me of his latest work-related woes. The day before he was nearly to the top of an icy mountain road in swirling snow, pulling a trailer fully loaded with heaters and light towers for a location. The new dispatcher called to tell him he needed to drop the load, return to the yard, load other paraphernalia, and take it to a different location for a frac, 4 hours away, or 8 hours roundtrip. He was then to immediately come back and finish the current job he was trying to complete. That would’ve put him into darkness, and too late to get everything set up on the current locale. It was so preposterous, Gar nearly laughed out loud. Instead, he patiently told the woman it wasn’t possible, and to rent the items, hire a driver, and hot-shot the equipment to the company man who was not-so-patiently waiting. 

He was lacing his boots and putting on his coveralls as he expressed his frustration, and the more he talked the more worked up he got. Keep in mind, I was part of this scene, leaning against the doorframe, watching and listening.  He put on a hoodie, zipped it up, then stopped and looked at his outdoor wear a moment. Soon, he began to rummage around in his coats, which were on hooks by the door. He frowned and turning to me, said, “Do you know where my other sweatshirt is like this one?” I walked over and rifled through the jackets too, but didn’t see it. I said it must be in his truck, but he shook his head and grumbled that he’d brought everything in the night before. He stared at me, thinking, then irritably muttered “Where could it be?” I shrugged, saying I didn’t know since I didn’t wear it, so kissing me goodbye, he unhappily went out the door to work.

That evening, I met him at the threshold as he stepped through the door and the first thing out of his mouth was, “I found the sweatshirt.” Delighted and surprised, I asked where the heck it had been, and grinning, he said, “I was wearing it.” He’d been upset and hadn’t noticed that he’d put on both hoodies, but here’s where it gets sketchy. His caregiver and right-hand helpmate, the one who vowed to love and comfort him, honor and keep him, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful only to him as long as we lived, was standing there, hanging on every word and hadn’t noticed him doing it. I laughed and not completely kidding said, “We need a keeper, between the two of us, we almost make a half.”

Trena Eiden [email protected]