Yesterday I saw a woman I’ve known for years, and decided to sit with her for a bit at the counter at Dunkin’ Donuts. I see her around our small town, she lives near me. She’s a recently retired school bus driver and has more time on her hands these days. She’s a talker and sometimes I don’t have time to chat but yesterday I did. I’ll call her Miss Debbie.
When I saw Miss Debbie at the counter I remembered someone’s blog post where they listed simple things we can do for others, and one of those was to listen to an elderly person talk, because sometimes they just need to.
Miss Debbie is probably in her seventies, but she’s mobile, healthy and spunky so “elderly” doesn’t seem quite right, but I guess on paper, she is.
She is also the Ex- wife of the man my Ex-mother-in-law had a long-term affair with.
Let me explain. I may have to distribute a chart later. Years ago and for a period of many years, my ex-mother-in-law was sleeping with this woman’s husband. Everybody knew. We live in a small town outside of a large city. It is a bed of gossip. The affair between my Ex-Mother-In-Law– let’s call her Shirley and Miss Debbie’s husband, who I’ll call Larry, was common knowledge.
I took the stool next to Miss Debbie and we chit-chatted for a bit. She told me about problems she was having getting work done on her house and her latest cataract surgery. I suggested a couple of contractors I know.
As always, she eventually asked if I’d seen my Ex mother-in-law, and I said, no explaining again that I don’t have any contact with her, or have any reason to have contact with her. I added that I hadn’t heard anything either way so I guess she’s okay.
Then Miss Debbie said, “It was all in my face, that was the most hurtful thing.”
Yes, I nodded. Truly that must have been horrible.
The woman who would later become my mother-in-law, Shirley, used to pull up to a nearby lot outside Miss Debbie and Larry’s house and beep her horn for him until he came out. I repeat: Shirley beeped her horn for all to hear — until Larry left the home he made with his wife and two children and went off with her. That would be a hurtin’ thing. A country song inspiring hurtin’ thing. A spit on your own porch and clean your gun hurtin’ thing. I can’t imagine.
Granted, Larry was no prize, obviously. Still, he was somebody’s husband — and this somebody was sitting next to me having coffee.
Let the record reflect: Some men do leave their wives for their mistresses. It happens. Case in point: Larry eventually left Miss Debbie, moved in with Shirley and her children, one of them being my future- and ex-husband. (ha! That sounds funny . . . but I digress . . . ) Still later, Larry married Shirley. An alcoholic, he almost missed his own wedding because he’d been out drinking the night before. Not surprisingly, perhaps, Larry and Shirley’s happy union was short-lived. Shirley eventually kicked him out but not before an “accidental” shooting . . . by Shirley . . . but I digress . . . again. This was over twenty years ago.
Debbie still lives in the same home, Shirley still lives in hers. Larry, however, died last year, I think it was liver damage, cancer, karma, whatever. His last days were spent living alone in a little apartment, his grown daughter providing assistance. His home going service (funeral) was planned by ex-wife Miss Debbie and his children. I’m not sure if Shirley and Larry ever officially got divorced, but my Ex-mother-in-law Shirley was the last wife of record. Someone called Shirley to see if she wanted to come or contribute. She did neither.
Sitting there with Miss Debbie, who knows my husband (Shirley’s son) left me, and hearing the pain in her voice when she reflected on her husband’s affair, “. . . that was the most hurtful thing,” I felt for her. Just like labor pain for some, there is some pain that you can’t forget, even if it was long ago.
I offered just a little comment, saying,
“Well, I gotta tell you. I’ve never had any interest in somebody else’s husband.” This make her break out in a good loud chuckle.
“Me neither,” she said.
Just Me With . . . a coffee break.
P.S. If anyone knows of that blog post that inspired my coffee with Miss Debbie along with this post, please let me know. I want to give props.
I hadn’t been well. I hadn’t been taking care of me. I admit. I was depressed. I was underweight. I hadn’t been sleeping, I hadn’t been eating. This was mid-separation but before divorce proceedings had begun. It was also before we had a visitation order and my then husband did not take the kids out much, instead he would visit our marital home. I don’t remember why the kids weren’t there. It may well have been the first time he did take them. I honestly have no recollection of why the kids were not home — that never happened — so I had a visitor. Our relationship is not relevant to this story, but he is a good guy and he spent the night. It may have been the first time I’d had a visitor since my separation. It had been a while.
We didn’t get much sleep.
I was in actual pain the next day. Afraid I had contracted a horrible disease I called my best friend, who happens to be a gynecologist. She said it was probably just irritation. Did I mention it had been a while?
It got worse. I started spotting. Damn, this can’t be good, I thought. When I described the latest symptoms to my doctor friend, she said, I needed to be seen immediately. (She’s never been my personal gynecologist, that would just be too weird).
By this time, I had frequent and painful urination, along with the bleeding. I was so uncomfortable. When I finally got to my gynecologist, I was given a diagnosis of urinary tract infection and a prescription for antibiotics. I’m a little prone to urinary tract and bladder infections. I had them while pregnant and had them as a child. I knew the drill. Since I now had my antibiotics, I’d assumed I’d get better.
I started to have flu symptoms . . . fever, chills. After a couple of days, I’d become a little disoriented, had trouble driving , and was sensitive to light. I felt like crap.
But mothers can’t get sick so I tried to play it off. Plus I was taking antibiotics, I just needed, I thought, for them to kick in.
I got progressively worse. I got more feverish and my head felt like it was splitting. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink. I hurt all over. I’ve taken care of the kids before with the flu, but this was debilitating.
Finally I called my mother to help me with the children because I had trouble getting out of bed. She took care of them during the day and I stayed in my room — feverish. She checked on me a bit but her attentions were with the kids. Confined to my room, I got progressively worse.
During this time in the separation process, on some days the ex would drop by to see the kids in the late afternoon. He did so, relieving my mom for a couple of hours, but I don’t think I got out of bed. He left by nighttime.
But it was Just Me With . . . my five kids. I was the only adult in the house. And I was very, very sick.
Taking Tylenol and forcing fluids did not bring down my fever and the antibiotics seemed to do nothing. I still had painful frequent urination and was barely making it to the bathroom. Laying down caused excruciating pain in my head. Sitting up was still painful but not quite as bad. So I sat, without television, reading material, or music. I just sat on my bed in a darkened room, shivering.
My first set of twins told me they had checked on me that night. They said when they peeked in my room I was sitting up with my eyes open and my arms flat and motionless at my sides, palms up. My eyes must have rolled back into my head because my children told me that though my eyes were open, they only saw the whites of my eyes, and I was not responsive. They said I had no color in my face, that I looked completely white.
“We thought you were dead, mommy.” They said.
Ugh. My poor babies. They thought they were in the house with their dead mother.
“So what did you do?‘ I asked later.
“We ran back into our room and got under our beds.”
My poor babies. I think they were maybe eight years old at the time.
Later, “Baby B” twin convinced “Baby A” twin to go back and check on me again. (“Baby B” twin is always convincing the other kids to do things . . . there was an incident with an open window . . . but I digress . . .) When “Baby A” twin looked in on me, I was on my bed, but I had slumped over, with my arms still at my sides, and eyes still open.
So I hadn’t laid down —- I had tipped over. Yeah, I must have looked dead. My poor babies.
Frightened even more, the girls reportedly stayed up all night until they saw me get up to go to the bathroom early in the morning. I do remember going to the bathroom. I remember seeing them down the hall and not being able to speak.
When my mother came again later that day I told her I had to go to the doctor. But my mother doesn’t drive. My dad had dropped her off and left. He didn’t answer his phone. So . . . I drove myself. Obviously, I wasn’t thinking clearly. I could have, should have, called a neighbor or friend, but I wasn’t thinking straight. My mother didn’t know how sick I was, since she had spent most of her time with the kids. I think she was just relieved that I agreed to go back to the doctor. Luckily, he doctor’s office was less than two miles away, though I distinctly remember considering pulling over to rest.
When I finally arrived, my doctor took one look at me and said,
“I think you need to be in the hospital. How did you get here?”
He was horrified that I had driven myself . They sat me in a wheelchair while the nurse got a hold of my dad who drove me to the hospital. I stayed for four days. I had a kidney infection. I had never been that ill in my life.
If I hadn’t gotten to the doctor, I very well could have died right there in my house, alone with my kids down the hall.
My poor kids, traumatized by spending a whole night thinking their mom had died in her bed. To this day, years later, they check on me at night. If I am sick they check on me often.
“Mommy, are you okay?”
I eventually recovered, though I was weak for quite some time. My body was run down by my depression, the physical problems that resulted from it and my complete lack of self-care. I was a mess.
In a way, it was a learning experience. I had to have the discussion with my children about where to go and what to do and who to call should they be worried that something has happened to me. They should never have to suffer through the night thinking their mom is dead. It still makes me shudder, my poor babies. The whole experience forced me to realize that I would indeed be the only adult in the house for an indefinite period of time and that the kids need to know what to do should something happen to me.
I’m all they have. It’s a little scary.
Plus, I felt guilty. My serious illness and the traumatic experience to my children were triggered by my having a “visitor” whose liveliness caused a urinary tract infection, which progressed to my kidneys, and landed me in the hospital.
I couldn’t catch a break.
So ends the tale of me almost getting f**ked to death. And you wonder why I’m a little hesitant to get out there.
Just Me With . . . . a lover, a kidney infection, and reports of my death slightly exaggerated.
I later told my visitor that he could claim bragging rights to almost f*cking a woman to death. He was not amused. He’s a good guy.