I used to be married to man. Not just any man. A tall man. Very tall. He did tall-person things like reaching in to the top shelves of the kitchen cupboards. He also changed lightbulbs and pruned trees. In fact, for thirty-odd years I never had to do a single tall-person thing.

After he died, I had to adjust, reinvent myself. I had to learn how to live alone, go to restaurants alone, and do tall person things. Because of that I now have three ladders in varying sizes.  One of these I bought only to change light bulbs in a room with a very high ceiling.  I no longer have the high ceiling, but I still have the ladder.

I have learned how to use grabber sticks to pick things out of high shelves, and to put only grabbable things up there. I have repurposed a spaghetti spoon to reach earrings when they fall behind the end table, and earrings often fall behind the end table. I have bought multiple step stools and have stood on all kinds of furniture that wasn’t meant to be stood upon.

I had to adapt in other ways, too. He was the person who balanced the cheque book, understood how the furnace worked, was able to keep a level head during a crisis, knew what was essential and what was frivolous, and could get up before the crack of dawn whenever necessary. I managed to learn how to do most of those things in my own way.

I learned how to balance the cheque book and, with the help of Quicken, to keep track of where the money goes. I learned, more-or-less, how the furnace works and more importantly how to arrange for annual furnace checkups.  I learned how to keep quiet when I am rattled and take a day or two to figure out what just happened. I don’t stay calm, exactly, but it probably looks that way.

I also learned to redefine what was essential and what was frivolous in ways that worked for me. Chocolate is essential, as is feel-good underwear. Flowers in the kitchen, craft projects that may or may not get finished, and lazy afternoons watching Netflix: all are essential. Wine with dinner–absolutely essential.

If there is an afterlife, Geoff is probably shaking his head in dismay and I really don’t care. Actually, that’s probably the most important adaptation.  I stopped caring what he thought. Occasionally, I get up before the crack of dawn just to read mystery novels or waste time on the internet. That would have driven him crazy, but now I don’t have to explain myself.

He was a lovely man, and good in many, many ways, but I spent far too much time worrying about what he thought. Since he didn’t express his thoughts most of the time, this became an ongoing obsession for me. Now, I am more self-determined, self-confident, self-motivated, self-reliant, and even occasionally adventurous. In some ways, I have become a bigger person.


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      1. Very nice miss Anne! You’ve clearly got it figured out with ladders, chocolate and grabby things. I’m really thankful for my tall person, but I know who to talk to if I can’t find him!

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