No Thanks, I’m Driving

Roger Clark
July 2023

Like many of us, I devote sixty hours a week to making sure a load of greeting cards, gift certificates, child support checks, and my sister-in-law’s hand-made envelopes make it safely to their destination. Reading Jen’s letters is a twice-weekly study in humor, history, candor and squinting as she fills every square inch of paper with horizontal and vertical hand-written sentences. She and husband Ken are God-fearing, hard-working Cornhuskers who live every day in a spirit of humility and gratitude. 

My wife’s whole family is like that. They won’t cuss, can’t drink, don’t smoke, and wouldn’t know a kilo of coke if it dropped in their lap. They’re all physically fit, spiritually grounded, mentally stable, and devoted to making the world a cleaner, safer, saner, and beautiful place to live. But it’s okay. We like them anyway.

People like them remember a compliment from ten years ago but forget about me cursing up a storm yesterday morning. They remember the shirt I wore to a high school volleyball game in 2015 but can’t recall my bad manners last week at the dinner table. And it’s no use. I can’t get them to change.

 The most beautiful of the bunch is my darling wife, who is always number two, no matter who else is in the room. There isn’t anything she wouldn’t do for her God, husband, family, or grandbabies, regardless the day, hour, weather, or location. And nothing dims her spirit of joy, even seeing me off to work at 2:00 AM with a fresh thermos of coffee in the lunchbox. 

She knows better than anyone how to keep me awake, put me to sleep, help in the office, and finish a conversation on the phone when I start cussing. She has great empathy and zero pity. She is openly compassionate but with unseen emotion. She’s quick to praise, slow to anger, works hard, and rests smart. 

 Eight years into this marriage and Susan still graces every meal with formal place settings. She’s not just a good cook, but a thoughtful one. Since May of 2016, WE have been on a low-sodium diet, and WE have unrestricted access to healthy choices that she studies relentlessly. Even a quick trip in our Chevy Grocery Grabber can take two hours, but I’m convinced each run adds a year to our life span. And believe me, at my age every day is a minute shorter than the last one.

The woman is a gardener, mower driver, wildlife curator, and still has great curb appeal. She’s into yoga, walking, fitness, and probably records more steps running errands than I do in a week. Every day she practices her Spanish lessons, studies the Bible, writes to her siblings, and proof-reads my meager contributions to the written word. 

We have a fifty/fifty deal with money. I make it, and she spends it. Because of me, the data looks like financial chaos. Because of her, we have the highest possible debt-free credit rating. Because of me, I bring home the bacon. Because of her, we have the home to bring it to. 

I don’t thank her near enough, and it’s because I’m driving. Okay, maybe it’s just that I’m lazy, or haven’t learned how to dial a cellphone. I thank God for her every day. One thing I know for sure is that I’ll never leave her, which could also be attributed to laziness, but there’s also this.  If she ever leaves me, then there’s no doubt about it. I’m going with her!