Views from Annie's Cabin

miscellaneous musings on aging and living and loving

OPERATION SAM

on February 11, 2021

(Operation Save-A-Marriage)

FEBRUARY IN THE DARK CORNER

I can still hear my mother’s voice: “Anne, watch out for February—it’s your most dangerous month. You always want to change everything: change your job, move somewhere else, cut your hair, even change husbands.  Please, just watch out for February——-!

Well, at the ripe old age of 71, a true Septuagenarian now, I thought I’d beaten that old nemesis month.  Turns out I was wrong.  Here’s the back story:

Mother was right.  An astute Charleston lady of the old school.  Who knew everything, kept her eyes open and (usually) her mouth shut.  Except, the older she grew the more she spoke the truth openly and directly.  She could pitch a dagger to the heart with humor and a twinkle in her eye—yet she always spoke the truth. And she coached us in Life’s nitty-gritty maxims, too, like “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” “Familiarity breeds contempt.”  And “Be careful what you wish for….”

As I said, she was right.  Every February we’d suffer together whatever changes were my destiny that year.  She was always my champion, my oracle of wisdom—always my rock.

So she loved it when I finally married the man of my dreams, my very first boyfriend (from way back in ‘62) and her favorite of them all.  But I was young and so was he and we drifted off into our different life paths.  Only to meet up again forty-five years later, to Mother’s delight, and our own wonder and amazement.  We felt that God had saved us… till a time when we knew what we were doing.

And for eleven years now I’ve managed my Februaries, succumbing only to mild stumbles and diversions.  But nothing too far off the path of a settled and happy marriage.

But then came Covidious.  And The Year In Isolation.  

And now the front story:   We live in paradise.  In a rustic old (restored) fishing cabin on the Middle Saluda River, tucked way back in the Blue Ridge mountains, in the northwestern tip of South Carolina, fondly (and sometimes not so fondly) called The Dark Corner.  Where we’ve been living happily ever after, tending a wilderness garden, writing, painting, cooking, drinking wine on the screened porch, taking walks along woodsy trails. And getting along just fine.

Until Covidious made the cabin shrink.  Along with our world.  Not that we ventured out a lot, but every now and then we enjoyed meeting friends and family, going to our favorite rocking chair theatre in nearby Flat Rock, excursions to a local vineyard and winery. 

My husband has a compromised immune system.  I have a torn meniscus that’s waiting on surgery.  This last from a surprise encounter with a young 300 pound black bear in our garden, where my Little Black Dog (LBD) was in fearless attack mode.  I managed to grab the dog, the bear shuffled off, but I was left with a badly twisted knee.  And though it was only June, it was fast beginning to turn into February—and therewith, OPERATION SAM.

I’ve always been active—a swimmer, hiker, a yogini—but a crippled knee puts a stop to all those lovely stress-relieving activities.  I was suddenly lurching around like a drunken sailor, walking with brace and cane, finding all semblance of grace vanished, seemingly forever.  

And did I mention that my husband loves to cook?  And that we both love to drink wine?  And that June turned into October and October into December and December into February.  And that I sat about, read thousands of books, even finished and published my second novel (JOURNEY HOME, see www.anneblythe.com).  And got fat.  And short-tempered.  And sharp-tongued.

Now…my husband is a good-natured soul, but he IS a man.  And so most of the changes coming upon me were taken in stride, not really noticed.  Until a night recently when, sitting by the comfortable fireside, after a comfortable supper, watching the uncomfortable news, he happened to say, “Anne, I know your knee is a problem, and I know you haven’t been able to exercise like you used to, but maybe if you were to lose a little weight, your knee wouldn’t be under so much strain.”

Did I mention it was February?  And that my good humor had been turned into bile by Covidious?  And that I was at my wit’s end, the end of my tether, that my rope was frayed and ready to split?  

I suddenly heard myself yelling—not speaking softly, but yelling at the top of my lungs, “Well, all we’ve done since last February is to drink wine and eat peanuts!  What the samehell did you THINK would happen?  We need a break—our marriage needs a break!”

And thus…. OPERATION SAVE-A-MARRIAGE was born.  

We both decided that we needed time apart in order to survive together.  Which we wanted to do.  We wanted to survive together.  Our marriage is a good one, we have fun, we love a lot and laugh a lot, and very rarely let the outside world mess with our inner serenity.  I blame it on Covidious.  I blame it on watching the entire world living in fear and everyone masked, looking like they’re fixing to rob the nearest bank.  I blame it on never being able see smiles in the grocery store, on having dinner dances with lifelong friends cancelled for the foreseeable future, on simply not being able to go the movies again.  I blame it on this upside down, broken world we’re living in now.

But– OPERATION SAM is saving our marriage.  My good husband hied himself off to the beach, where the ocean fixes everything, and I stayed home and am singing with the river.  I’m getting my groove back.  I’m happy again.  I still love my wine but I’m not drinking at 4:00 every day.  We talk on the phone and say “I love you,” and can hear the lift in our hearts and voices, can feel the love growing stronger again.

Every marriage needs a break, a little time-off every now and then.  Here at home…alone…the energy is feminine, the incense burns, I do awkward yoga that only my LBD sees; I eat what I want when I want, and have tackled long put-off domestic triumphs around the cabin.  He’s been walking on the beach, having thinking time, and planning projects he loves.  

OPERATION SAM is working.  Our marriage is saved.  Thank you, Mama………….


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