Life can be ugly and unpredictable: Pick a husband who will last — and laugh with you — a lifetime

lightening

The first time I introduced Skip to my parents, I knew I wanted to marry him.

It was October 1998 and my future husband was not in peak form.

He — like his mother and most everyone on her Hungarian side of the family — had developed a painful cyst at the base of his spine. A few days earlier, a doctor carved a 4-inch zig-zag incision, scooped out the culprit and sewed Skip back up with what looked like an embroidered lightning bolt emerging from the top of his butt crack.

It wasn’t pretty.

And Skip was in pain. By the time we pulled into my parents’ driveway, he was ashen and sitting side-saddle because leaning against the driver’s seat hurt too much.

My mom, I had warned Skip, had no social boundaries. None. She was nosy, touchy and, at times, a wee bit raunchy. But she could also be witty and disarmingly charming.

When mom saw Skip limping up the back stairs, she greeted him with a smile and an innocuous question: “What’s the matter?”

Skip explained about the cyst.

And before Skip could shake my father’s hand, mom walloped him with round two — the inappropriate question, the one I was certain would come even though I couldn’t predict the circumstances or the timing — “Can I see it?”

Skip, without hesitation, unbuckled his belt, dropped his jeans and let mom peel down the dressing so she could marvel at his wounded anatomy.

“Herm,” mom said to my father, “come here, you have to see this.”

My dad, politely averting his eyes, declined and asked Skip — in manly solidarity — if he wanted a beer.

Skip and I were in our early 30s then. My parents were in their late 60s. None of us could have imagined what the future held. But that moment — and the hours that followed — set the tone for all the years that followed, including the past three since my parents moved in with us.

Many readers of this blog have left messages and sent emails of encouragement to me. They say I am brave to help my parents and that my parents are lucky to have me.

But the truth is, my parents are lucky to have my husband.

If Skip didn’t support me — financially and emotionally — I couldn’t help my parents. He also pitches in daily to get things done. Today, on his day off, he took mom on a field trip to the library and listened patiently as she yammered on with two people she knew — even after those people seemed to lose interest.

How many books and movies — both comic and tragic – have been penned about Romeo and Juliet relationships doomed by quarreling or misfit Meet the Focker families? There’s a reason.

Even if you find a soul mate, a lover, a best friend, you’re destined for trouble if your match doesn’t fit with your family. Yes, couples can muddle through. And, for some, family isn’t as important. But I knew, particularly as an only child, that my husband would need both the right mindset and sense of humor to not only cope with my family, but to be happy with me.

I was already in love with Skip before I took him home to meet my parents. But as that day wore on — without tension, only laughter — I knew I would be his wife.

After mom re-bandaged his incision and Skip hoisted up his jeans, mom, who has no science or medical training, told Skip that his cyst wasn’t hereditary.

It was, she declared, his unborn twin.

Mom, now with dad on her side, told the story of a man they knew in Florida who had the same sort of cyst. When doctors operated, they found hair, tiny teeth and bones. Doctors concluded that the man’s body formed the cyst to expel the remains of a twin he had unknowingly carried with him for decades since birth.

Skip didn’t argue. He didn’t talk about all of his family members with the same issue. Or that, thankfully, his doctors did not report finding any teeth lodged above his butt crack.

Only later, when we were alone, did we laugh, not realizing at the time that his lightning-bolt scar would forever be known in our family as “twin.”

24 thoughts on “Life can be ugly and unpredictable: Pick a husband who will last — and laugh with you — a lifetime

  1. Ah, never knew I had that in common with Skip. I log in with two surgeries back there. I know Skip and I share a love of good beer, and have a similar sense of humor. But we have never sat down and regaled each other with butt crack surgery stories. There are some places you don’t normally go. Thanks, Amanda, for opening that door. I say you are both lucky, that your union was probably what you both needed. Obviously, it goes to your taste in beer, as the logo of your brewed batch was named Christmas Crack, with a gnome showing us his hind end. I suggest you crack one open with Skip.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaha! Our Christmas Crack — of course. Must have been a subliminal nod. And naked santa did belong to Skip’s mom. FYI — I asked Skip’s permission before I wrote about the cyst. You’ll have to ask him more about that day and the joke mom told. I wanted to put joke (about people in nursing home) in here, but it fell flat. Seeing Skip demonstrate it is much funnier. I wonder how many people in Greater Cleveland have had “twin” surgery. Skip gets kidney stones..and his urologist says this is the stone belt (because of ethnicities)…so maybe “twin” belt, too.

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  2. This looks to me like a belated Valentine. What you might not have in a sibling, you gained in a soul mate. I’m so glad you have each other. And hope you have a good day…mine started in the wee hours when I peered outside and saw the thick ice at the top and bottom of our driveway. I left a note telling the elders NOT TO WALK ON THE DRIVEWAY. And as I was letting the pup out of course my father was going out there to get the paper. Last night mom was mumbling about thinking we needed a new toaster oven. It wasn’t working. Maybe that was because she hadn’t set it correctly. When I looked she had it set for over 10 minutes which would no doubt have filled the house with smoke. Off to research a simple model…

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    • Hi Robin. Tx. And you’re right…Skip is more help to me than most caregivers’ siblings. Ugh– ice and toaster ovens. I know from past experience with radios, coffee makers, etc — all they want is on/off. No other buttons, no gizmos. Strange how hard it is to find the simple stuff. Ah — another idea to make millions: Appliances aimed at elderly.

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      • OMG Amanda: You are SO right about the appliances, or at least a review of them..but can we youngsters review FOR them? I just spent time I should have been in the shower looking up toaster ovens and so appreciate the on-line reviews…in the old days, who would have known?? Saw some cheapies with decent reviews but no the ones that pop stuff up on top would not work as we must maintain our fire hazard with the paper towel holder directly above LOL. Came upon one model for $150…never in my life would I have considered spending that…but it has excellent reviews and I just hope BBB will let us use a coupon! It has some readout functions, but a big dial where you pick your choice of toast, pizza, bagel etc….and then a button up or down for darkness…then someone mentioned how loud the buzzer is which will no doubt scare the crap out of me and the pup, but is probably good for the elders who are hearing impaired. It could be a full-time job. Hope your day goes well and is ice free!

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      • When I started my blog, I hoped to post reviews of some things I’ve found that have really worked for mom and dad and some that were miserable fails. I haven’t made it there, yet…but it would be helpful for all caregivers to have a non-biased source for such info. Great day to you, too!

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      • safe before cheap…like airlines LOL…at least how airlines should be. My folks don’t tend to be hard on stuff, and the ease of use contributes to the safety, so I may go for it. Besides, I think BBB will let you return a product if you’re unhappy, bless their hearts! Maybe caregivers should have a discount card like the golden buckeye!

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  3. Love your post’s title. You, of course, appreciate how fortunate you and Skip are. If every adult child who feels responsible for aging parents could wave a magic wand and eliminate feeling like he or she must carry the entire responsibility, (as the old song says) what a wonderful world this would be. Look forward to hearing what else works as you continue with your parents.

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    • I do know…and I thank him for it every day. I have more support that many. Some people have several children…but one child bears all the responsibility for care. I hear about that a LOT! I hope everyone appreciates caregivers in their families. Honor them with a delivered home-cooked meal or loaf of bread…or an offer to sit with the person they are caring for — even if only for an hour. Maybe, depending on their needs, they’d appreciate a cleaning gift certificate or someone to mow their lawn or shovel their drive. Most importantly, tell the caregiver in your family — in person or by email or send a card — how important they are and how much you appreciate what he/she is doing for someone you love.

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      • Amen Amanda. And as someone who has been involved for over 20 years working in the field as well, I can tell you, you speak the truth. Fortunately it is rare that if someone has a child or children that have no involvement…but those are the saddest situations of all.

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  4. Hi Amanda,

    Great story! Glad you have someone with humor to walk this journey with you. My dad was a stroke patient for over ten years and my mom has some dementia now. It’s a journey that you would never ever want and can never prepare for, but it can hold lots of rich moments.

    My mom had problems leaving her stove on and I researched and found a really great thing made by a company in Canada that automatically switches the stove off whenever it senses that no one is in the kitchen. You probably don’t need it since your parents live with you, but maybe some of your readers might find the info useful if they have parents still living alone. It was a Godsend for us as it allowed Mom to stay alone when otherwise it would have been unsafe.

    Blessings to you and Skip and your parents in the wild crazy ride you are on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ava. Do you remember what the company was called? That’s a great idea! I think many would benefit from that. And I agree — I don’t think anyone would want to go on a caregiving journey. I’d never wish it on anyone.

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    • I’m thinking aloud while typing this…but wondering whether I should launch a separate, but connected blog to share this kind of information. Some people read my blog because they’re caregivers or know somone who is…but many just read it because it’s there. That way, people could maybe find what they’re looking for…and I wouldn’t clutter this one up for the other readers…just thinking…hmmm…

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      • and if anyone has any idea besides the belts and locks that keep a fridge closed that will let the freezer dial stay in place and not be turned so it is in the off position…I’d sure appreciate it! The manufacturer was of no help, and I don’t want to keep my mother out of her own fridge, or my father!

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  5. I don’t know which would work best. As you can see from the link with the stovegaurd info, the website and its blog are are dedicated to this very thing. But the thing is whether or not people find these resources. I have told various people about StoveGuard and nobody ever knew anything such a device existed. I am continually surprised at that because it’s such a common problem for people and such an easy and clever fix. I’m sure there are many other situations people encounter and don’t realize there is something designed to take care of that problem.

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    • I’m web savvy and info hunting savvy and when I started this caregiver journey I was shocked by how little unbiased info I found to help me — particularly about devices like this. I think it’s important to not only list the information, but people’s pros and cons…So many websites are bent on selling things as much as they are providing info….and sorting out the truth isn’t easy…

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