by Elise Seyfried
I was walking with my friend Sherri this morning, and a topic of conversation was the age difference between me and my husband, Steve. He is 66, and I am 58. Although I will do my very best to die the same day he does (thus ensuring us a heartwarming feature on Action News), I have to face the fact that I will probably have some years alone down the road. And it got me thinking. What do Steve and others do for me that I will someday have to learn to do for myself?
Where do I begin?
Steve is the resident handyman, laying kitchen floors and installing light fixtures with aplomb. Sherri told me today of a woman she knows who hires someone to hang pictures on her wall. I pretended to be shocked at this, while at the same time saying to myself, “So? What’s the problem?” Steve resurfaces the driveway in spring, shovels it in winter and does any gardening (admittedly not much) that is done on the Seyfried property.
Steve is the long (and even short) distance driver. When we were on the road on our children’s theater tour of the Northeast (1979-80), he literally drove every mile. I was charged with being the (abysmally inept) navigator. But he didn’t really need me to give him directions as he ALWAYS knew how to get where we were going, even if we’d never been there before.
Nowadays, I blame my (abysmal) eyesight as I count on my husband to drive daughters Julie and Rose to their NYC-bound trains in Trenton, to go out for groceries when there is ice and snow. What will become of me when I have to ferry myself around? Not ready to find out!
Steve pays the bills and balances the checkbook. He battles with Blue Cross on the phone when they won’t cover our college kids’ doctor visits away from home. He goes up into our scary attic to find this or that box of whatever that I suddenly decide I need to look through. Years ago I was able to navigate the rickety pull-down stairs myself, but one day as I climbed I was met by a squirrel, its mouth full of my son Sheridan’s kindergarten drawings. I was so shocked I nearly fell backward. That was the end of my attic exploring. Haven’t had squirrels up there in a decade, but you never know! Better safe than sorry! Better depend on Steve!
And my dependency doesn’t end with my hubby. I lean heavily on my grown kids for help with just about anything to do with technology. I recently accepted a writing job, and the editor set up a Dropbox account for me. Dropbox is, I am told, “a personal cloud storage space.” Say what? After two frustrating hours of trying to open and save files and folders, I had merely succeeded in deleting the template I need to use to write. Call is in to Rose, who knows and uses Dropbox and can hold my hand through the learning process (with only minimal sighs of impatience). I rely on my offspring to download phone apps for me, to help me back up my computer files, and to make videos and take still photos as well. (I can’t figure out how to focus my iPhone camera, and so everyone looks like they are underwater.)
I chuckle at the fact that our 90-year-old associate pastor at church still uses a typewriter and has never owned a computer, but honestly? She still lives on her own, drives, presides at worship services and Bible studies and is sharp as a tack. Perhaps I shouldn’t be chuckling.
None of us know our last day on earth, so it behooves us to be prepared and to be as independent as possible for as long as possible. Clearly, I have a looong way to go to be ready to be a solo act, and I fervently hope it will never happen. But just in case it does…
I wonder if Sherri knows the phone number of the picture hanger?
Elise Seyfried is Director of Spiritual Formation at Christ’s Lutheran Church in Oreland. She is also an actress, wife, mother of five and co-author (with husband, Steve) of 15 plays for children. She can be contacted through www.eliseseyfried.com.