Saturday, February 14, 2009

I’m No Romeo

As a married guy with two little girls – Valentine's Day is a killer.

In fact, the first half of February is enough to break me.

My lovely wife Darlene's birthday is two days before our wedding anniversary. That means two more cards and two presents right there.

The following week is my eldest daughter Alannah's birthday. There is a party, a cake, and presents from the whole family.

The first half of this retched month ends with Valentine's day.

More cards. More presents – one for all three of the ladies who rule my life in my little household.

I am just a dumb guy.

Before I was married, I never worried about such things as birthdays or anniversaries or Valentine's day.

The good old days.

I'm no Romeo.

I haven't got a single romantic bone left in my poor withered body. And I would like to prosecute the Hallmark executive who came up with this screwy holiday to the fullest extent of my own inconvenience and frustration.


Heart shaped boxes of chocolates.

Lovey – dovey smoochy crap.

Good grief.

Now don't confuse this admission of my own insensitive guilt to mean I don't love my wife and two daughters. They are my life.

Which translates to "they have taken over my life".

And I don't know what I would ever do without them!

Which translates to "I forgot what such freedom is like".

In our early years together, my lovely wife Darlene would always get a card and a bouquet of flowers. Perhaps even a trinket of jewelry left from the stash I bought for her birthday or our anniversary.

And sometimes we would go out again for dinner. Maybe see a movie.

But now days, by the halfway mark of February; I'm just plain worn out.

And broke.

This year, for our daughter Alannah's birthday, we skipped the big party. We had a cake at the kitchen table and a few presents to open. Then we pulled both the girls out of school and took off for a couple of days of fun at the largest indoor amusement park in Ontario.

This place had a pool with a couple of water slides, a full indoor roller coaster, Ferris wheel, and a lot of other fairground rides. It had a mini golf, a bowling alley, an arcade, and several types of eateries. It had pool tables, bumper cars, ping pong and shuffle board.

It was a kid's paradise.

And Dad's are generally big kids.

But more importantly, my lovely wife Darlene, and my two little girls had a great time. They loved it and they were sad we had to leave. I pretended that I couldn't wait to get out of that dump. Back to my own couch with my flat screen TV so as not to miss a stroke of the Bob Hope Classic at Pebble Beach.

And they believed my act.

So this year, I think I am going to get away with no Valentine's Day cards. No heart shaped box of candy. No roses or flowers or lovey-dovey-smoochy crap.

I think I did it.

And it only cost me five hundred bucks.

Because this Valentine's Day nonsense has to be stopped.

As a married guy with two little girls – Valentine's Day is a killer.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

My Lovely Wife Darlene

If you are a frequent or even occasional reader of Head Stuffing, you have probably come to know of my lovely wife Darlene.

But I have never really elaborated on describing her before.

I realized that when I chatted online with an old high school friend who found me through Facebook.

Facebook is an amazing phenomenon to me. It serves really no constructive relationship building, unless you want to see how your high school buddies (whom you have not seen in thirty years) are doing at playing silly games on the Facebook site.

But it does hook you up once in a while with an old friend you have not heard from for some time.

And this was just such a friend.

"I really like your blog", he wrote.

"Thanks, I have a ball writing it", I replied

"So you're married, eh?" he said. "All I ever read about her is that she is your lovely wife Darlene".

After the chat, I went back, and I looked at my blog posts. I did a search for Darlene. Son of a gun, he was right.

So let me rectify the situation.

And today is a great day to do so. It's our wedding anniversary.

Eight years ago today, I married my lovely wife Darlene.

Some days I wonder what I was thinking to marry such an opinionated, strong minded woman.

But most days I thank my lucky stars I did so.

Darlene has been in the emergency services field for the past two decades, first as a paramedic here in Windsor and Essex County, then as a Registered Nurse in almost every hospital in the Downtown Detroit and surrounding areas.

She has some stories to tell. The best ones come out on summer nights around bonfires as we sit with friends. Stories of holding a man's heart in one hand massaging it and eating a piece of pizza with the other hand, because… "there may not be another slow period like this for a while".

So my wife is a damned good medical professional.

When I met Darlene, she was still sailing. She crewed for a rather famous sailor from the Windsor / Detroit Great Lakes area named Jurgen Hendel. His boat – a thirty-three foot Abbott named Rakia - was the renowned boat to beat in summertime regattas on the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie and Lake Huron. Jurgen's partner, Linda was a nurse who worked with Darlene and convinced her to come out sailing with them. Linda and Jurgen became like a second family to Darlene.

Darlene fell in love with sailing, and took it very seriously.

So Darlene is an exceptional sailor.

The only person who can out swear a sailor is an Emergency Room Nurse.

Enough said.

We have two little girls, Alannah and Ashley-Rae. Both are exceptionally pretty, which they get from their mother. Both are exceptionally smart, which of course, they get from … their mother.

When Ashley-Rae was born, she was three months early. It was a battle already for such a small baby, living in the neo-natal intensive care unit hooked up to I.V. bottles and oxygen tubes. But to make it even tougher, a nurse in the unit accidentally infected our daughter while changing her diaper, and her fecal matter got into her tiny blood stream. Three blood transfusions later and love of my lovely wife Darlene, who rarely left her side but to come home to bed, and Ashley-Rae survived and has flourished into our second wonderful child.

So my lovely wife Darlene is an excellent Mother.

Emergency room service is hard work for a nurse. Lifting and pulling and carry people around.

People are hard to lift.

This type of lifting and pulling has taken its toll on Darlene's back. She was diagnosed with degenerative spine. On one occasion, she bore the task of informing a very large woman that her husband didn't make it. The one woman collapsed to fall to the ground, and my lovely wife Darlene reached out to catch her in her fall.

Her spine has not been the same since.

To ease the ever increasing pain, she had a nerve stimulator implanted to run the course of her spine and block pain signals before they reached her brain. The very first one worked only moderately, so they opened her up a second time to adjust it. In the course of doing so they actually damaged a couple of nerves, ripping the sheathing away to leave the raw nerve exposed. This was discovered when removing that stimulator and implanting yet a stronger version, repairing the damage as they worked.

The stronger stimulator does not seem to work either.

So my lovely wife Darlene is in constant pain.

So my lovely wife Darlene is no longer a sailor.

And my lovely wife Darlene is no longer working as a Registered Nurse.

My lovely wife Darlene is now a full time Mommy. That is my lovely wife Darlene's name at our house. Mommy.

It is hard for someone so used to the adrenaline-rich lifestyle of an ER Nurse to be forced to live the quiet life of a stay-at-home Mom. But my lovely wife Darlene is slowly adjusting.

My lovely wife Darlene would much rather be working.

I am very fortunate to have my lovely wife Darlene. I do love her very much. She is my best friend. And at times, we are each other's worst enemies. But we have gone through a lot together. And there is no one else I would rather have gone through this with.

No one except for my lovely wife Darlene.

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