I knew by the look on my husband’s face that something was wrong. Really wrong. This was serious.
“I need to talk to you,” Oliver said as he walked into our kitchen on a scorching southern summer afternoon.
“What is it?” I asked, scared all the way down to my painted toenails in my sandals.
“Am I losing it? Be honest. Have you noticed lately that I’m forgetting things?”
“What? Are you serious?” I asked him.
“Yeah, I’m serious,” he said, as he stared at me. “I’m worried that I’m having memory issues.”
“You’re not forgetting things,” I told him. “Why do you ask?” I was puzzled.
“Because a couple of days ago I bought a new bottle of aspirin. I put it in the cabinet with my medicines. Now, I can’t find it.”
Relief washed over me.
“Um,” I began, “I’m so sorry to make you worry. I found this recipe on Pinterest for making homemade monster tomato fertilizer. I’ve been saving eggshells for two weeks for it. I started making it the day before yesterday and realized I needed to use some of your aspirin. I figured I’d buy you a new bottle.”
“You mean I’ve not been able to sleep the last two nights, worrying that I have the start of Alzheimer’s because I can’t find my new bottle of aspirin. And, all the while, you had my aspirin but didn’t tell me?”
“I’m so sorry! I had no idea you were lying in bed, tossing and turning, worrying about your aspirin and your memory,” I responded. “I meant to put the aspirin bottle back two days ago. I should have told you I used some of your aspirin. I should definitely have told you about the tomato fertilizer recipe.”
“Yeah,” he said. “You should have.”
True story. Really happened several summers ago.
Not funny at the time because Oliver was so freaked out about his normally impressive memory possibly not being so impressive anymore.
And, because we walked through the long, dark tunnel of Alzheimer’s with his mom for eight years. We know what memory loss looks like. Many of you do, too.
Over the past few years, however, the tomato fertilizer incident has become another in a string of funny memories that Oliver and I share, made even funnier by the fact that the tomato fertilizer recipe worked so well that we were nearly to the point of handing out tomatoes to random people standing on street corners. I’m talking about our little backyard garden producing enough tomatoes that summer to cover the kitchen table and counters multiple times and put tomatoes in the freezer and give gift bags to friends and family members. We’ve never grown so many tomatoes.
Sometimes, I feel like I’m starring in an episode of “I Love Lucy.” The aspirin incident was one of those times.
Another of those times was when Oliver and I were newlyweds.
One Monday, I excitedly drove home after work, my car’s trunk filled with brown treasure. My coworker had trimmed his grapevines over the weekend and brought the trimmings to me–for free. Major score.
I pulled all the grapevine pieces out of my trunk as soon as I got home and placed them in a massive pile in our only bathtub. I turned on the shower as hot as it would go and closed the bathroom door behind me so I could go start cooking dinner.
Oliver arrived home a few minutes later. He’d been sitting in afternoon rush hour traffic for a while, so he headed straight for the bathroom.
“Melinda?” he called, quizzically. “What is all this?”
I explained that I was running the hot shower for a while with the bathroom door closed to steam the grapevines from my coworker to make them pliable enough to bend into wreaths to use in our home and to give as Christmas presents. Seemed very logical to me.
I think his comment that day was something like: “Uh huh.” Then, he backed out of the bathroom and closed the door.
Oliver has also come home from work to find me covering the dining room table with items for a yard sale (you have to put prices on, right?), painting birdhouses at the kitchen table, making Christmas ornaments out of salt dough on the kitchen counter, and, well, redoing pretty much everything in the house at one time or the other.
In December, he spotted me in the front yard as he drove down our driveway. I was spray painting something.
As he walked up our sidewalk toward our house, he asked what I was painting. I told him I was painting my childhood sled black because I saw this post on Pinterest where someone used an old sled as part of a front porch decoration for Christmas.
He just shook his head and walked inside. (Front porch looked great, by the way.)
While Oliver really hasn’t complained about my projects over the years, he did ask how long the grapevines would be in the shower. Also, how many days the dining room table would be covered in piles of stuff for the upcoming yard sale. And, he really did expect me to buy him more aspirin. Totally fair, right?
Ephesians 5:33 says: “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
That last part of the verse means I am accountable to God for showing respect to my husband.
So, I have decided what I should have decided many years ago in our marriage. I need to give my husband a heads up before I do something crazy, messy, offbeat, organic or thrifty. That’s the least I can do. Just issue a simple warning in the morning like: “Today, when you come home from work, don’t be surprised to find me making a giant zebra for…”
That’s only fair, right?
By the way, here’s the link to the homemade monster tomato fertilizer recipe: https://blog.mypetchicken.com/2012/05/07/shannons-homemade-monster-tomato-fertilizer-recipe/.
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