The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

This Time I Told Him – But Couldn’t Take It Back

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Opening my mouth and talking has been a major mistake at lot of times. I should know better by now but, with memory loss, I’m intent on repeating past mistakes. This time around I mentioned to Nat that I thought it would be an idea to buy a new coffee table and replace the kidney-shaped one(s) we have now, along with the matching side table. All three pieces are glass-topped with decorative chrome trim and a blond wood – and look ultra modern in our little cottage-style house. Plus it’s been quite a few years now and I’m long over-due for a decorative change in the living room. This is a habit I’ve maintained for years while I was single. Every year, or so, I would switch around the furniture and accessories that adorned my little apartment living room. Plus, if I could have, I would have even switched around the little bedroom, but alas, not enough space. This little habit of mine just perks me up, gives me a different perspective and makes me feel better!

It seems as if once I turned 65 my decorative tastes suddenly took a sharp right-hand curve. Instead of that modern, clean line look, I’m craving that “English country cottage” look. Nothing modern, but simple and comfy looking. Thus the reason for my suggestion of a new coffee table last Wednesday. Nat looked at me and naturally knew this was going to be a done deal whether he agreed or not. My biggest hurdle was convincing him of the style I was looking for and that he had to agree to the same. He always has a big hand in whatever piece of furniture or fixture we’ve purchased, which can sometimes be frustrating because the two of us are very different in that department. He only agreed to the 3-piece modern coffee and end table we had because at the time I was living in “his” house and it wasn’t “our’s”. A huge mistake any second wife could  make. Always, and I do mean “always” avoid living in “his” house. It’s never, never the same and you begin to feel like a guest in what should be your “own” home.

As I was willing to wait and do some research, Nat suggested we drive down to Wall’s Furniture in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Friday to at least begin our search to see what was exactly out there. We knew we would have trouble trying to match the blond wood cabinets sitting beneath the wall-mounted television, but I knew that even a slight variation wouldn’t matter that much. So, as it happened, the salesman led us upstairs and we were shown a simple 3-piece table set (coffee and two end tables) with clean lines and just a teensy bit of tapered legs. This is where things get a little rough and hazy. We both liked the set. We both agreed that it was a good deal. We both agreed that the colour would work and the next thing I knew the salesman was writing up the receipt. Why was that so easy? And why did I agree to something I had an ounce of doubt about?

Arriving home we agreed we would assemble the set on Sunday afternoon, but I kept thinking about the whole thing. Somehow what I had in mind had gotten away from me. My doubts became bigger with the passing day and a half until Sunday after lunch I started to open up the box. Nat asked what I was doing and the he would get to this in a minute. Suddenly my world blew up!!

Being honest, I told him I wanted to check the colour again and that I was having doubts whether it was right. I (mistakenly) suggested that he agreed to this purchase only because he felt we both liked it and he wanted this whole matter over with. With those words Nat hit the ceiling. He reminded me that I wanted a new coffee table, that I agreed with him that this table seemed pretty good, etc., etc., etc. Why didn’t I say something at the time if I had doubts? What was wrong with me and what did I want? At the time, I truly didn’t know. Nat then began to assemble the tables and in his anger asked where I wanted to put the old coffee and end table. I shouted at him to just leave them alone. He adamantly said NO, that this was going to get done. I shouted back “then you’re on your own“, as he walked the one table alone down to the basement despite my body barricade. He returned for the second half and the shouting continued. The tears began to flow, my voice rose and the tangled words came flowing out.

As the fight moved on I became even more emotional and Nat became even angrier. He was furious at my insults and why not, I had verbally hit him hard. His temper was now scaring me, but with hindsight I realize why. I had said a couple of things that I wished I could take back. As his eyes widened, his emotions came streaming out, loud and clear, all the while thumping his fist on the recliner. “All of this“, he said, “just because of a coffee table“. I walked to the closet for my coat and boots while uttering those words “maybe I should leave this marriage as apparently I’m not good enough“. Bad choice of words as he leapt to his feet, shook his finger at me and told me to “never, ever say that again”!! He then asked where I was going. I said I was going out, that I needed some air and some time to myself. My head was spinning, my mind going crazy and my thoughts were muddled up. I needed time alone to think what the hell I was doing. He took hold of my coat and told me to take it off. Through my tears I told him NO, that I was sorry for all of this, that I didn’t know what I was doing, thinking or even saying, and with that I was out the door. The garage door opened, I wiped my tears for fear of being seen by anyone and walked towards the Friendship Trail. My body was shaking and my hip and legs were throbbing with pain. I couldn’t go far. But I managed to at least ask myself what the hell I was playing at. What was my problem and what exactly was it that I wanted. This mood of mine had taken a stronghold and I had to shake it.  I didn’t even make it to that little bench on the Trail where I sat last time trying to clear my head. I had to go back and face the music. When I returned calmer heads prevailed. Enough was said. In silence we began to assemble the tables. It turned out this whole scenario was for nothing – and I had caused the whole thing. The tables looked great. A bit more space in the living room and the look was more cohesive. I was going to suffer in silence the rest of Sunday as Nat, too, kept  his thoughts to himself.

Expectedly, Monday morning we were up early for my annual doctor’s appointment in Hamilton. We put everything behind us and drove for just over an hour, but it was for nothing!! The computer at St. Joseph’s Health Care had previously crashed and apparently I was one of two people they forgot to call to cancel.  My Doc was overseas on holidays – March Break. What were the odds, this was starting off to be one horrid week. Disgruntled about the expensive parking fees for naught, we headed home for another hour’s drive. Arriving home we were totally frustrated, but managed to get through the rest of the day and now had an excuse to talk about something different! A late night hockey game was on that evening so I made my excuses and headed off to bed. I was totally exhausted and frustrated.

Managing to get a good twelve hours of sleep, Tuesday morning began with warm, but still guarded, feelings. I took a walk around Niagara Square looking for a few decorative things in wicker. With our spare time on Monday afternoon we decided to switch a few chairs around – the burgundy chair in the alcove, the yellow tub chair in the bedroom and the bedroom wicker chair in the living room. Looked good, we thought. Now we just had to introduce a few wicker pieces, order a wicker table lamp and the room was going to look pretty good.

The afternoon saw our landscaper coming by to help Nat solve an outdoor problem. Nat discovered that a portion of the garage floor had flooded last week where the new patio had been laid. The eaves troughs were backed up with solid ice and the rain was flooding the patio and garage floor faster than he could sweep it out the door. I ran for a wad of extra bath towels, placed them by the door, as Nat laid an old rubber mat under the door to tighten the gap between the outside and in. Hopefully with Mike and Nat’s two thinking caps on, something could be worked out to stop the flooding and re-arrange the eaves troughs. The final decision was that Mike would try to come up with something, and that we would call our contractor, Simon, to see what could be done about the eaves troughs. In the meantime, Nat had re-worked the downspout enough to at least divert the water away from the corner that was flooding. Now we would have to wait and see.

And so went the rest of our week. One of the worst we’ve had in years. The flood, the fight, the silence. On top of things, after making egg salad for a change for lunch sandwiches, poor Nat dropped his on the floor and had to retrieve what he could – that was all there was. The sandwich being a bit thinner than he was used to he realized it was sheer clumsiness but ate it up anyways. We both were looking towards the end of this whole week. For me, I’ve etched a sign in my brain – only say something if it’s intelligent and well thought out!!!!

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Author: Twila

Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada, with 5 sisters and a brother. Now retired, my husband and I travel, play golf and am slowly renovating our new (old) home. After my kidney transplant in 1999, we've learned to enjoy life to the fullest. Nat and I have driven across Canada, taken an Alaskan cruise and drove home via the Northern United States. We've also been to Mexico, the Caribbean, the East Coast of Canada and Cape Breton. We've done the "Snowbird" thing, having lived in Destin, Florida for a couple of months of the year. In 2007 we changed our travel plans in order to move into and renovate our new "old" home, but hope to someday get back on the road again. We also love returning to Scotland (Nat's origin of birth) to visit his family and tour the Highlands and surrounding Isles.

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