I Must Try to be Less of a Grump

My wife just left me.

I’m laying here on this bloody bed again because I spent 3 hours out of the house, possibly I walked for 50 steps, maybe I stood for 10 minutes, probably I sat in a less than comfortable chair and talked to people about life, the universe and everything (disclaimer: we actually talked about magnesium, mental health, dogs and chickens, and pain management) for about 40 minutes, mostly I tried to move as little as possible. My punishment, nonetheless, is to ache with the effort, wrangle my reluctant body to make something to eat to take the pill to stop the pain to give relief (not so much), collapse on this bed.

My wife did most of the running around, she drove the car, went to the supermarket to get milk and money, grabbed the animal food, drove to the market, dropped me off, parked the car, came back, carried the coffee, found the food, held my hand, engaged in another terrifying conversation about chronic pain management, went off to get the car, picked me up, drove some more, disassembled and packed up the free hammocks we found on the interwebz, went back and did some more shopping because we forgot things, drove home and started unpacking the car, reassembled the hammocks, cleaned the kitty litter, started on the dishes…

I snapped at her.

I growled and grumped and snarled and whined. I muttered under my breath and built up imaginary hurts. I demanded a level of preparedness and anticipation that is unreasonable to expect. I was a cantankerous curmudgeon.

So she left.

It’s for the best.

She needs the practice.

Her pager went off. She kissed me goodbye and raced off to respond; probably dragging her boots on as she tumbled out the door to jump in her car and get to the fire station to be part of the strike team that responds to the call out to fight a grass fire on the other side of our small village.

I’m proud of her. I’m proud of her courage and resilience and eagerness to help. In country Victoria (in fact most of rural Australia) all firefighters are volunteers. Now, if you’re not from Australia, you might not know that bush fires and grass fires can get pretty scary and dangerous pretty damn fast. As I lay here I watch the grass on the back bank and wind gusts are bending the stalks to 45 degrees, gusts of around 30 km an hour. I think about how that is feeding the fire she and her crew have gone to fight. I heard them leave, the wail of the fire engine’s siren carried on those same winds.

I hope that she is safe, that the training and the protective gear and the expertise of her crew will keep them all safe. I don’t worry about her really, she is competent and capable, but fires are so unpredictable. Today we are lucky that it isn’t very hot in this country where summers are renowned for heat. Today we are unlucky that the wind is gusty and changeable. Every day of summer we are lucky when we do not have a fire to contend with.

I must remember to apologise to her when she gets back. I must remember to praise her for looking after me and keeping this household going. I must remember to thank her for taking on the challenge of becoming a volunteer firefighter and going out to keep me and all of our community safe. I must remember to remind her of the wonderful, capable, brilliant person that she is and to let her know I love her.

I must try to be less of a grump.

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One thought on “I Must Try to be Less of a Grump

  1. Sadly it was a house fire. Luckily the young man who lived in the shack was out when his off-the-grid, LPG fridge exploded. His dad was comforting him while the police and fire investigators worked out what happened and volunteers stopped it from spreading into the bush that surrounded us.

    I spoke to him not long before we packed up and left home. He was devastated, having lost everything apart from his car and the clothes on his back. We have gone through our wardrobes, finding the men’s clothing we have that might be suitable to give him while trying to be mindful of my dad’s experience of being given people’s ratty cast-offs when he lost his family home as a teenager.

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