Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

May 21, 2014

John Cannon: The Better Half really is better: 05/21/14

John Cannon
The Independent

ASHLAND — As I am nearly recovered from my April 9 knee replacement surgery and will return to work at The Independent on Thursday, I would be remiss if I did not take time to commend my Better Half — aka my wife, Lynda — for all she has done for my family and me during the last two months. Prior to my surgery, I did not realize what a burden it would be on her.

My wife and I have always shared our household duties, but since my surgery, I have not kept up with my share of the workload. Not even close, in fact. While I have been hobbled by my new knee, my wife has been the keeper of the family finances, the payer of household bills and the chief taxi driver for my two grandchildren. She has taken and picked up my granddaughters from school, carted them off to dance classes, play practices and T-ball and soccer games.

Oh sure, my daughter —their mother —does some of that, but because she works in Grayson, she often is not available for taxi duties in Boyd County. Thus, someone else must do it and prior to April 9, that usually was yours truly. However, because I was unable to drive for nearly seven weeks after my surgery because my new knee was not yet flexible enough to safely operate the gas pedal and brake, my wife had to assume the taxi duties, often having to adjust her work schedules to do so.

I finally drove Saturday for the first time since April 8, and it was a feeling of freedom I don’t believe I had felt since I got my driver’s license when I was 16 nearly a half century ago. Getting in and out of my car with the steering wheel in the way is still a bit of a challenge, but, hey, I’m driving again. Beware, fellow motorists.

For most of our married lives, my wife and I have maintained separate checkbooks, and we have always tried to live on my income and use hers for vacations, nonessentials, cellphone service and clothes my wife buys for her children, grandchildren and herself. We used to have one checkbook between us, but it caused a lot of unnecessary disagreements. For us, having two checking accounts works better.

Because of this arrangement, I have always paid the bulk of the household bills like electricity, water and sewer, gas, telephone and satellite TV, which is part of our phone bill and has become, in my humble opinion, ridiculously expensive.

During the nearly six weeks I was out of the house, my wife became the payer of bills, using my checking account. I went more than five weeks without even seeing my checkbook or my billfold. Most of the time I was in Kingsbrook Life Care Center, I was flat broke. I couldn’t even buy a soft drink out of a vending machine. That was fine with me. Everything I needed was brought to me.

Thus, this was a learning experience for my wife. She had no idea how much we paid each month for gas, electricity, telephone, water, sewer and trash pickup, satellite TV, etc. Now she knows, and I think she was a bit shocked. I know this because she is talking about ways we can save money. By the same token, I still don’t know how much she pays for her fancy cellphone service — and I don’t want to know. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

As a general rule, I hate to shop, but there is one major exception to this. I like going to the grocery store. Because of this, I would say I do about 90 percent of the grocery shopping in our household. My wife always makes a grocery list, but it is my job to find each item in the store and pay for it. I actually enjoy doing it.

However, since April 8, all of the grocery duties have fallen on the shoulders of my beloved wife. And she has taken on this added responsibility like a trooper. However, I know she longs for the day when I will again be able to shop for groceries. That’s probably another week or so.

I mention all his only to let my wife know I recognize my surgery has increased her family responsibilities and given her less time for herself.

Maybe I will reward her by taking on her on a long, cross-country train trip to visit members of her family I don’t even know.

Oh that’s right. That’s already planned. In fact that is the first thing we will do when I retire.

 JOHN CANNON can be reached at jcannon@dailyindependent.com or at (606) 326-2649.