Chapter 1: Husbands and Other Hazards of the Happily-Ever-After

And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help fit for him.Genesis 2:18

Husbands are incapable of retiring from management. Written in their DNA is the need to regulate, supervise, delegate and even hold meetings to assess the compliance and productivity of their staff. My husband Vern, being one of these, began holding management meetings at our breakfast table even before his retirement became official. This caused problems in paradise. I wanted to run fast to some undisclosed location. I checked into getting an unlisted phone number, but our couple’s cell service was on the same plan.

I didn’t want to be managed or regulated. At 62 years of age, I didn’t want to be supervised, either. Vern wanted to rearrange, reorganize, and restructure my life, including my kitchen, which apparently wasn’t in compliance. This in spite of its productivity; endless hot meals over the years, even hosting holiday dinners and special events.

Without his usual outlet for management duties and crew supervision, I became the sole target for Vern’s quality-assurance specifications, observation, monitoring and modification implementation. He even planned team-building meetings into his schedule. The only team building I planned to implement was to get out of there as fast as I could.

I wanted to sit at my desk working on my novel, write letters to my grandchildren, volunteer with animal rescue services and have lunch with my friend Laura at the neighborhood cafe. These were my plans for the coming years.

It was the day Vern handed me a to-do list with 17 items on it, I decided to run away from home. I didn’t really want to leave my husband and the retirement farm we’d purchased, but for my mental, emotional, and physical health, I knew I had to escape.

I could feel my blood pressure, usually on the low side, jump a few numbers higher just at the sight of Vern approaching with that to-do list in his hand. I found ways to take short weekend trips away from home, but for the long term, this would begin to get costly and certainly wasn’t practical.

I visited a therapist, had acupuncture for stress relief, made an appointment for a physical and took vitamin supplements specifically for mental and emotional health support. I tried various ways, too many to name, to address this problem. But when two people live in the same household, sooner or later things come to a head and one is faced with the reality that a change must be made or else.

Or else what? This was not a question I wanted to entertain. I loved my husband. The problem was living with him under the current set of circumstances. I had to find a way to escape without leaving.

The solution presented itself on a short four-hour trip south into Missouri one weekend, to visit a quaint Amish community. There was Sarah, a young wife in her thirties with eight children, pregnant with number nine. Her homemade sugar cookies stacked on a plate alongside baskets of freshly picked berries caught my immediate attention.

However, the family also had an interesting side business. During winter months when plowing fields, harvesting, and other outside work was not taking place, Amish brothers Jonas and Jonni hand-crafted one-room log cabins. Constructing these little darlings in their huge dairy barns on their family farm, the cabins were then delivered to the purchaser’s property, ready-made.

I bought one on the spot, as in, immediately. The check was written out and handed over before I finished eating the sugar cookie. If there’d been a way to hitch the little cabin to my Smart Car, towing it home that very afternoon, I would have. Instead, I ordered a couple of customized additions such as actual stairs going to the small loft rather than a ladder, and built-in bookshelves underneath the stairs.

Then we set a delivery date. I could feel a breath of fresh air spring forth as the ink dried on my pocket calendar book. Hope re-entered my life. Somewhere in the distance, I could hear an angelic choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

Thus began the creation of my personal space. It would be the salvation of my marriage, my sanity and emotional stability, my physical health and over-all well-being. My she-shed would allow me to run away from home without ever leaving. I would now have an escape place. The thought of having my own little cabin, even before it became a reality, allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief instead of feeling the onset of a migraine.

The next week, I visited a farm sale. Half hidden under oil cans, boxes of nails, and several sets of mismatched hinges, I found a rusty bucket. Inside was a treasure to behold. It was a CLOSED sign. With faded white paint on weathered wood, it was the most beautiful thing I could imagine. I bought it for a dollar. It was the first thing purchased for my escape place, before a chair, a lamp, curtains, linens, or other necessities. I stood there after handing over the dollar bill, marveling at this true find.  

My CLOSED sign would be prominently placed on the she-shed exterior, nailed tightly to the cabin’s nine-inch logs, just in case anyone with a to-do list had thoughts of being invited in.

…and the door was shut. Matthew 25:10B

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