A comment on one of my blog posts and a couple of facebook links really nailed me this week.
The comment was nice, the writer pointed out how good things were in my life. They were spot on, my life is good. It’s good for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is I have the time, resources and health to tend to Marty’s care.
The face book post was about being content in a career. The writer posited that some in their chosen career groused because they felt like they were supposed to grouse, that they were, somehow, supposed to be unhappy because their chosen career was very hard and required long hours sometimes fighting against great odds. I resemble that post.
The article I read, also on face book, listed five regrets the dying often had in common. The last regret, one many of us can understand, was wishing they had let themselves be happier.
All three of these pieces dealt with happiness. They all spoke to me and reminded me of something….well they reminded me of …..Me.
Somehow I got it in my brain that feeling real abundant happiness, expressing joy, was okay for some, but not for the serious. Overt happiness was not for those who had important things to do. I don’t know where it came from, I don’t know why it would be there because I like happy, heck I am a huge fan of Pharrell’s Happy, I love it, it makes me do the baby boomer head bob.
But the curmudgeon gene is somehow stuck in me. I know it’s kind of a stupid thought and I really, I promise ain’t that stupid. I suspect it has to do with that whole Texas work ethic manly crapola.
There have been too many times I have found myself feeling a little guilty for being happy. I worked hard in my life, I worked at hard jobs, I was a hard, serious career man, how could that produce happy? Told you it was stupid.
Then came the strokes and being a giver of care for Marty, talk about a serious undertaking.
I distinctly remember as Marty lay in a coma in the intensive care unit I was having a light moment with my children one evening. I laughed, I smiled, and I felt a brief moment of happy with my favorite people in the world. I occurred to me at the time I should not be having happy stuff and I decided right then and there I needed to feel bad about the happy feeling.
Marty was sick, really sick, very sick, it was serious, how can serious and happy exist together? In my mind they couldn’t so I couldn’t ever experience a light moment, everything had to be a heavy burden so I could show myself and others that I felt miserable bad about my wife’s plight, our plight. Guilt made me move away from happy, serious made me shun joy, dumb, dumb, dumb.
It has taken me time, like years, but I’m better at finding and accepting joy. I still struggle with the guilt of feeling happiness, especially when Marty is feeling bad or when I am away and doing things while she is at home, recovering from her strokes, my fallen partner. How can this engender happiness?
I know and Marty knows that we have many things to celebrate in our lives. We have Marty being here, we have a supportive loving family, our children are good people who have joined with good people and are producing amazing people. Happy, happy, happy.
We are supported by good people and we have met many amazing health care givers who are serious about their craft and about helping Marty. We are incredibly fortunate to have been touched by so many who care so much and are so very talented at their chosen endeavors. That’s bound to be happy.
We worked hard and had very good fortune and I know we are blessed that we are financially able to maintain this rather expensive care giving hobby. This is a lot more expensive than golf, and for me and my golf skills, much more rewarding.
We have been lucky and in spite of the overall tragic circumstances we, I have a lot of reasons to be happy. I’m happy Marty is still with me, I’m happy I’m healthy and able to care for her, I’m happy with my family, I’m happy with friends, I’m happy a lot of the time.
Most importantly I know Marty and I know she fights for happy moments for herself so I should do the same.
I still feel a little guilty for it.