Monday, August 30, 2010
Rob’s father will recover from his heart attack but it may be a few months until he can work again. After spending the night with Rob’s mother at the home in which he grew up and spending most of the day at the hospital, Rob and Celia are driving back to Columbus. Celia is scheduled to begin her position with the afterschool program on Monday.
Even though Celia had offered to drive, Rob preferred to have something to do to occupy his mind. This was fine with her; it gave a chance to think about the things she had been hoping to accomplish this weekend before they had been called away. She wanted to show up as prepared as possible tomorrow for her first paid day of work – she had performed countless volunteer hours over the summer to help prepare the rooms in the old parsonage.
“Mom and I were talking while you took a shower this morning,” Rob said. Celia looked up from the pad of paper on which she was scribbling notes. “I think she’s flipped the other direction now. Yesterday she was sure Dad was going to die, but today she’s underestimating the help she’ll need in the next month. Both Sara and Maria are leaving for college in the next few weeks. Dad won’t be able to help drive them or move them in or anything, and Mom is going to be busy taking care of Dad.
“That’s a lot,” Celia agreed. “I hadn’t thought about that.”
“I was thinking that once Dad is back home that I might take vacation time to help out. I have ten days saved up right now. That’s two whole weeks. I could do some of the stuff I know Mom’s not thinking about, like find someone to take care of the yard. I could help with the college packing and even get them both up to school. I can come home when I bring Maria back.” Maria had decided to follow in Rob’s footsteps and go to Ohio State, in Columbus.
Celia was relieved to hear that Rob’s mind had re-engaged following what was, certainly for her, a disorienting weekend. Rob had been so flooded with worry – understandably, Celia reminded herself – that he had been unable to think the way he was now all weekend. On one hand, Celia further reminded herself that she had risen to the occasion just fine. On the other, she could not deny that she vastly preferred this Rob as her husband to the one who panicked and had to be told what to do next.
But part of Celia feared that if Rob became the man of the house in his family now, that he might never be free again to be her husband.
How does Celia respond to Rob?
Monday, July 19, 2010
I’m glad that you’re here
Rob and Celia are driving to Cleveland, having heard an hour before that his father has had a heart attack. Rob was emotionally flooded following the news, so Celia took the lead and made the decision to drive across state immediately.
“OK. We’ll be there as soon as we can… love you too.” Rob disconnected the call from his mother. “Dad’s in surgery right now,” he told Celia. “He’s having an angioplasty.”
“Do you know what that is?” Celia asked from the driver’s seat.
“No idea,” Rob said. “None. No effing idea whatsoever.” Rob had pulled it together sufficiently after the initial news to eat, shower, pack a few items and begin to get his mind around the facts of his new world: that at least for the short term Dad was no longer in charge. More than anything, this was the piece that hit him the hardest.
The strange thing, though, is that Rob did not know he had relied on this. Rob had graduated from college two years ago and had begun his new job and found an apartment almost immediately; he had not actually lived at home since the summer following his freshman year at Ohio State. He was married, for heaven’s sake. But for the moment, the demographic accoutrements of adulthood were meaningless. Wife, job, and age aside, he felt like an orphan.
“Celia,” he said, still looking out the window. “I needed your help this morning. I was kind of stuck. Thank you.”
Celia briefly reached over and touched his leg to acknowledge his comment. Then she put her hand back on the wheel. Rob smiled, because he knew Celia did not like driving with one hand. They could never hold hands when she drove.
“I’m glad I rose to the occasion,” she said. “For once.”
Rob realized he was still a little overwhelmed by everything, because what Celia said felt like something that deserved a response, yet he was not sure what do to with it. She was being strong and self-deprecating at the same time. How to begin to respond?
“I’m glad you’re here,” he said, which was true and all encompassing for the moment. He might still be nude and immobilized sitting on the side of the bed without Celia’s intervention.
Whatever they might find at the hospital in Cleveland, Rob took comfort that they would face it together.
What do they find at the hospital in Cleveland?
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Who has the perfect family? (Joanne’s comment)
I am concerned about Celia’s self-esteem. This deficit makes her externally focused, which means that Celia struggles to find inner value because she is reliant on others’ opinions of her. If we remember back to Celia’s issues around getting married—she wasn’t sure she wanted to be a teacher, or stay in Ohio, or even be married yet—we are reminded that there are parts of Celia that are young and unformed and desperately need some positive experiences. I agree with Harold that one of the places Celia can turn for validation is to Rob. I am, however, worried that the combination of Celia’s low self-esteem and professional dissatisfaction, which is hitting up against an un-motivating economic climate, could begin to cause a low-level depression that will undermine the quality of Celia’s life and marriage. Healthy individuals make for healthy marriages. I hope Rob can find ways to support and encourage Celia to continue to grow into who she is and wants to be despite the family shortcomings that she finds so burdensome.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Celia felt guilty that she had ruined Rob’s evening of
basketball viewing with her absurd attempts to distract him when he had made it
clear to her that this was his evening’s priority.
Rob could feel Celia’s eyes on his back. She was probably still pouting as she
lay on the sofa, now in silence, and he was angry enough that he couldn’t even
enjoy the game, even though his team looked like they would pull it out. He even had a momentary fantasy of
covering his beer bottle with his thumb, shaking it and turning it onto Celia,
in case his point hadn’t been made; but he rolled his eyes inwardly at himself
for this and let the bottle remain still.
a moment he heard Celia get up from the sofa. Maybe she’s leaving, he half-hoped; but then this would have
to continue tomorrow which he did not relish. But she went into the kitchen. Rob could hear the opening and closing of cupboards and the
fridge and felt himself begin to relax, just to be alone in his living room for
the moment. His team scored again
and he reached for his beer, but it was no longer cold and Rob did not like
could ask Celia to get him another one since she was in the kitchen
anyway. That could be construed as
a peace offering of sorts, to begin a “normal” conversation, but she might take
offense at his asking her to wait on him right after he’d told her off. He didn’t want to go into the
kitchen while she was there, either, because then they’d have to speak, unless
he wanted to continue the cold war and ignore her while he grabbed a bottle,
which he didn’t want to do either.
So he remained on the floor in front of the television, while the game
proceeded without his full attention.
did he want to get married, again? He had more sports channels in his cable package
than he could count and he could do this every night, forever, if remained a bachelor. But he knew he didn’t really want
Celia was doing in the kitchen, she began to half-sing and half-hum
something. Celia had a pretty
voice; music was her field after all, and this half-and-half eccentricity was
something Rob had always found amusing and endearing. Rob could feel himself relax further as he listened to her,
and suddenly the basketball game was enjoyable again.
heard Celia walk back in, and suddenly a cold bottle of beer was dangling in
front of him. He took it as Celia
sat down on the floor next to him, placing a plate of nachos and taquitos, with
salsa, on the floor between them.
She reached over and grabbed her glass of water from the coffee table
and turned her own attention to the game as she took a sip and set it
a quick moment Rob braced himself for the continuance of the conversation from
earlier, but then he realized she wasn’t going to return there and
understood: This is her
peace offering. He watched her watching the game next to him, really for
him, because she didn’t care one whit about
took a swig of beer and set the bottle down. When the game went to commercial, he picked up the remote
and muted it as he turned to Celia.
What does Rob say to
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
The New Traditional (Joanne’ comment)
Celia has grown up a lot in recent weeks. I wonder if Rob thought that as Celia committed to the relationship and began to do the work necessary that she would suddenly just accept his position on everything. Instead, as Celia becomes more comfortable in her own skin she is stating her positions and disagreements clearly, standing on them and owning them, and expecting Rob to interact with them as valid. She has really broken old patterns.
Holiday plans can be difficult for couples that are committed but not yet married and this can continue to be a point of constant negotiation after marriage as well. Celia's felt responsibility for her mother during the holidays is real, as is Rob's concern that this means he'll always come second. Resilient couples figure out how to have it both ways -- acknowledge what's really important and give and take to approximate what everyone needs. However, both Rob and Celia must recognize that what has been "traditional" up until now probably won't work anymore, and "really important," of course, is open to debate.
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