Growing apart: He grew defensive, they wanted a husband, dad

Jo Fredell Higgins
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She bought the green beans, took the children to the dentist, and cleaned the toilets.

He was a rising star at the company because he was affable, capable, and personable. He wanted his moment on center stage.

She decorated the house for Valentine’s Day, took the children to violin practice, and wept alone at night.

He travelled more, drank more, and worried more. Was he going to make it, be a top-nocher, earn more? A poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more, was he.

She arranged the birthday celebrations, chaired the church bazaar, and planted the Summer garden. She bought fresh tomatoes.

One pleasant Wednesday he was appointed vice president in charge of sales. A large raise, a window office facing Main Street, and prestige within the company. His growing family became less important to him because he wasn’t there very often. He was staying at the best hotels, eating the finest food, and drinking.

She congratulated him on the vice president promotion, wrote relatives to tell them the news, and took the children to parents night at the school. She bought sweet cantaloupe.

He travelled the world now, often gone for weeks at a time. Brazil, Italy, China, Canada had all stamped his passport. If he was content, only he knew. The money earned would assure the children the best education. The best of everything. Is that what his children wanted or did they want a dad?

When he was home, and she tried to talk about their marriage and the sacrifices all were making, it usually ended up badly. He grew defensive because, after all, wasn’t he providing for them? If his wife had needs, they went unmet. If he expected gratitude for his work life, no one was willing to show it.

She colored her graying hair, took piano lessons, watched the children perform in school plays. Her tears were dry now.

It was in China that he collapsed. His heart could not take the incessant stress and stopped. He was 51. His body was shipped home for burial.
She arranged everything and wept for what might have been. His company insurance would provide for her and the children comfortably.

It is a story told over and over when he chased recognition and power and money.

She bore it all with a stoic grace and accepts what the marriage had become. She hardly missed him.

So what do we know?

Extremes are almost always dangerous. Ambition is mostly blind and should be moderated. Time passes without regard to personal agendas. Time, that dressmaker, specializes in alterations.

He didn’t have many years.

She had all the time in the world to fashion a new life.

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