Division of Labor

After going at it alone for two-and-half-months, I have Hank home again. He was Back East for a good cause — helping our daughter with her new home. Hank is a skilled woodworker and a willing Dad. You should see the deck he built.

As I wrote in my last post, I used the solitude to good advantage  — writing at will. I did go to a few events I don’t think he would have enjoyed as much as I did. I gardened, cleaned, and landscaped heavily. I carried on knowing there was an end in sight.

What is apparent to me is how over the years we have found a natural division of labors.

Outside of home Hank will check the postal box and take care of those little errands such as dropping off dry cleaning or going to the hardware store. At home, he cooks Mondays and Tuesdays, my longest days at the newsroom. He hand-washes the pots, pans, and anything that doesn’t fit in the dishwasher. He cleans the cat’s box daily and makes the bed. He irons better than anyone I know, certainly better than me. There’s a lot more, and I missed his contributions very much in those months.

But then I missed cooking for him and me, which is more inspiring and fulfilling than cooking for me. I certainly missed having someone to speak with and share the details of my day. There were a couple of times in those months, I really could have used his help.

I’d say we are close, caring companions, with love for our grown children, plus similar tastes about entertainment and politics. He doesn’t garden but we do stack wood together. I wish he wore his glasses when he cleaned but he does keep things very neat. You should see all the furniture he has built for us.

It’s great to have Hank home.


Hank and I get married

Hank and I decided to get married. Something small and quiet.

After being a couple for eight years and with all those kids, it seemed the right thing to do. It never mattered in the other places we lived whether we were legally married, but in a small town like Worthington everyone knows everyone’s business and more importantly forms opinions about them. Perhaps something sensible and traditional about this New England town rubbed off on us.

I sent notes to Hank’s father in Philadelphia and my family so they would know. The date was Aug. 28, but we were not expecting them to attend or send gifts.

My parents gave me a wedding for my first marriage, with a white satin gown my mother sewed, which she keeps in a cedar chest in my old bedroom back home, and a reception in the basement of the church with a band. I was a senior in college, and my hippie friends showed up, my tribe, my father called them. My parents did enough.

Hank, too, was married before, for less than a year to a woman in Chicago. She had a baby, not his, and the wedding party went to a Polynesian restaurant where they had a strip show for entertainment.

On our wedding day, we drove to the home of a justice of the peace in Goshen. Win and Joan Donovan were our official witnesses, and the four kids, of course.

The JP performed the brief ceremony in the field near his home in Goshen while his young daughter watched behind a fence. Afterward we posed for pictures. Nate squirmed in Hank’s arms and the other kids were lined up beside us. My long dark hair was pulled up in a roll on top of my head and the fringes of a shawl Joan lent me hung gracefully. It was a happy moment.

Afterward we had a small party at our house. Word got out, and a few friends from Boston drove to surprise us. Some people, new friends, came from town. They brought us presents, a coffee maker, and gift certificates. I made enough food, and we had beer.

The weather that day changed, first hot and sunny, and during the afternoon, it rained and then something cold and frozen fell from the clouds. It was a signal, I was certain, our marriage would be as full.

The next day, we took the kids to the Cummington Fair, a farm fair with horse draws, a vaudeville act, and 4-H exhibits, and we joke still that’s where we spent our honeymoon.

Our wedding day with Nate, Ezra, Sarah and Emily.