Perhaps life was becoming to comfortable…
I had just reached 60 years young, and our two pets, now 16 and 21 had become less dependant upon us. I, understandably expected life to slow down a little.
I thought that my wife and I would be able to spend more quality time together, which after 20 years of operating ‘Dads taxi’ 7 days a week I was quite looking forward to.
I was in for a surprise!
One evening, and completely out of the blue, Tess, my wife dropped a bombshell on me that gained my immediate and full attention.
“I have decided to go to university and get my nursing degree,” she announced in a monotone voice!
I could tell that she had rehearsed this announcement as her tone of voice could have just as easily been used to disclose she was off to the shops to buy kumquats, boot polish and ear buds.
I stared back in silent amazement half hoping to hear this was a cruel joke!
It wasn’t, and I needed a little time to mentally quantify the sheer enormity of this declaration.
For someone in their teens or even their twenties this was a big ambition. …but those years for Tess had long past.
Tess was then )#$@> old, and eleven years younger than me. This astonishing revelation was as unexpected as the hearing that the Queen was expecting triplets.
Why I asked? Mainly from a selfish perspective, as this news I knew would result in me seeing less of her than I did at present.
Tess, wearing her best serious face, sat squarely in front of me, so there was no escape and elaborated:
I should explain that for a couple of years Tess had been on a self-development campaign. It was at my suggestion, searching for something that she could develop a passion for, and something that would make her happy.
It seemed that the long and short of it was, while doing her GCSE’s at college on a part-time basis, she had been bitten by the (think big – you can achieve anything) education bug.
So this new determination wasn’t one of her usual mad cap ideas, it had evolved.
No, she had this all planned out. This September she would start a full-time access course at college, and the following year enroll in uni!
She had really thought it through.
My amazement quite quickly turned into deep admiration because I knew that this wasn’t an easy decision for anyone to make.
As September approached so did her excitement and she spoke about little else and I became more proud of her by the day.
Becoming a college girl that September was the high point of her year. She reacted to the workload that followed as if she had been shot with a taser gun!
It must have been like running into a brick wall.
The excited speculation of things to come had been replaced by the reality of daily hard work.
Things had changed a lot since my school days and the sheer volume of course work required to get the pass mark, which qualified her to attend university, was quite alarming.
As was the growing, almost overwhelming levels of assignments she was presented with.
She responded by becoming positively more work focused, and negatively more grumpy with the family.
To make things worse, English was Tess’s second language, and writing and composition didn’t come easy to her.
But she stuck at it, and never gave up!
Whenever she had a spare moment, she was on the computer studying and doing mock exams and tests. In fact, it wouldn’t have surprised me to see the screen fading with amount of time she spent staring into it.
As one of her regular tests or exams approached, Tess would stress out.
Relationships are about sharing…
However, she has always been a generous and sharing person. For that reason, and so I didn’t miss out on the sense of occasion, she became irritable and argumentative beyond belief.
I tried to understand, and found it best at such times to avoid eye contact which could and did spark an argument. I would sit in silence reading or writing, but within earshot just in-case she needed help.
Extra domestic duties:
As her course intensified, I not only became “dad’s taxi”, but the college girls’ taxi also.
I also was assigned the duties of what in my wife’s language would be referred to as Labandero. This was the man who attended to the laundry, and I did as I was told.
College and university have meant a lot of changes in our lives for both of us.
Tess has had to make many huge sacrifices which reminds me of a piece of very wise advice I one heard, I’m not sure of the source which was:
First decide upon what you want in life, and then what you are going to give up to get it!
For me, the biggest sacrifice is taking holidays alone as Tess is presently too focused to take breaks, but that’s her personality and another story.
50% of this journey to her starting point is now over.
We’re now approaching the end of her first year at university as she is positively a different person in so many ways.
Tess I know has realised that the journey is just as important as her destination.
I stopped writing at this point yesterday evening, and during the night, and as I slept the reason why came to me.
Sleeping on it is great for answers.
I awoke this morning and realised what has changed and been responsible for the person my wife has now become.
For many years she never seemed happy, and in fact, she used to tell me she wasn’t as if it was all my fault.
Perhaps in some way it was for taking so long to realise why.
However, only now, with her new self to compare against does the reason for her discontentment become obvious!
She was stagnating and mentally not reaching her potential in life, not even close.
She needed something bigger, something new, and something to aim for.
College, university and nursing has furnished her with exactly that.
What this has taught us both is you’re never too old to learn something new, in fact, you’ll probably be better at it.
So are you happy?
If not, this MAY be a contributing factor.
I am so proud of my wife, but I’m sure she already knows that.
To finish, I would like to share same quotations by one of my favorite authors and a truly great visionary: Earl Nightingale:
“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal!”
My wife is living proof of this.
As for happiness:
“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether its at work or with your family. Every moment should be enjoyed and savored!”