Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What If...? A Glimpse at Situation Reversal

I realize that most of my posts have been from the female widow’s point of view and there is a good reason for that. I happen to be one.

But, in most of the situations and decision-making dilemmas I find myself in, I often wonder what my husband would do if the situation had been reversed. How would he be handling things if he was here and I wasn’t?

To begin with, he would have had a heck of a time finding any sort of paperwork upon my demise. I did the bill paying, filing, and investing. He did all of the money making, traveling, and his fair share of big spending. When I think back now, I could have totally taken him to the cleaners. I could have had a very healthy online poker problem and he would have been none the wiser until I was six feet under.

I know for a fact that he didn’t know where the life insurance paperwork was (because I wasn’t sure I even knew and I’m the one who filed it). Unfortunately, if he couldn’t find that paperwork, he wouldn’t have been able to locate his passport (which was filed with it) so he wouldn’t have even had the option of skipping the country once things got hard. I'm not saying I do that, but I know the option is there.

To be honest, I don’t even know if he knew how to get into our bank account. He could have been out there panhandling with a sign that says, “I have money in an account but I can’t get to it because my wife took the password to the grave. God bless.”

Once he was gone, this potential situation was brought to the attention of many of his male friends who immediately went out and grilled their wives on the status of their accounts and how to get in.

Sorry, ladies.

As I was going into my “Remodeling Phase” after his death (which I will go into further on a future blog), I knew he would consider the new T.V. I was buying to be “weak” and that if he had been alive instead of me, nothing less than a 72” IMAX in the family room would have been acceptable.

He would have been free to buy all of the 80s looking furniture that I would never let him get and he would probably go out and find himself an 80s looking girl to go with it. This would have been his secret revenge on me because I never grew the “big hair” he so desired.

On the upside, our lawn would look much better than it does now with me taking care of it.

He would have taken up hunting again now that the woman who hated guns and deer guts was no longer around to say anything about it. And it would have been required that the 80s looking girlfriend look good in camo.

And the kids…oh golly, the kids. Would they still be wearing the clothes that I had bought for them years ago before I was gone? Would my son be in capris and t-shirts that hit above the belly, thereby making him look like a 6 year old Incredible Hulk? Would my daughters be in unintentional minis with shoes that resembled the fine Asian tradition of foot-binding?

Would they all be sitting around the dinner table, loaded with Hamburger Helper, practicing how to belch the “Star Spangled Banner”? Would they ever see a green vegetable again? Would they know that soap was meant for washing your hands and not just for a “mini bubble bath” in the sink?

I know, in reality, he would have handled everything just fine. It just would have taken him a period of adjustment just like it’s taken me. And he would have suddenly realized and appreciated all of the things I did that he never knew about, just as I struggle with figuring out how to get everything done that he did.

My son would be handier, because his dad would be around to show him things. My daughters wouldn’t still be riding their bikes with training wheels on them at the age of 16 because my husband would know how to take them off. And my minivan would have a 6 inch lift on it with shinier wheels and a bigger spoiler.

I’m not saying my way is better than his. It’s just all in your perspective.

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© Catherine Tidd 2010


  1. I've thought about this a lot, especially near the beginning. He would have handled things somehow, with love, strength, and courage... but I don't know if he would have asked for the support he would need. I was helped by people from our church, family (who even flew in to be here) and many friends. I connected with people while he was sick and after he died. My husband was a very sociable person, but he did not initiate get togethers... only I did that. He didn't even ask his own friends over, I invited them once in awhile! I think he would have tried to do everything by himself and he would be extremely stressed, depressed and somewhat detached from all the people who could help. They might offer and I think he would cheerfully decline and say "I've got it, it's ok." I HOPE that he would join a support group and find the online support available.

    As for household things... he was a good cook, he was a wonderful dad, he loved to shop and find new clothes for the kids. Proof of this is that going-on 17 months later I still have new clothes to give my 4 and 5 year old children that they are about ready to grow into that Daddy bought for them! He bought larger sizes when he saw a sale. I have a chemistry set to give my son when he turns 8 "from Daddy" because he found it for a good price but it was not for a 4 year old. Mike did more shopping, and I think he even did more parenting than I did. He had more hours with them during the day because of his schedule vs. my schedule.

    Finally, there is NO QUESTION about this one... our house would resemble a garbage dumpster. There would be papers piled EVERYWHERE. There would be toys on every floor surface in the house. There would be 10 shampoo bottles each with 1 inch of shampoo left in the bottom. The bed would NOT be made, and the kids would acquire more and more mass quantities of toys and clothes without ever getting rid of outgrown things or old toys. We might have another dog or two... maybe a big dog... I am curious to (just for a second) have a glimpse of our home as he would have it after my death. There is no argument from anyone who knew him on this front: Mike never threw out anything and he just didn't "see" mess! As long as there was a path through a room he thought it was a clean room.

    But the kids would be safe, fed healthy food, taken to preschool on time (I'm always late), well dressed, and much loved. That's the most important thing.

  2. I wish I could have had kids with my late beloved boyfriend....When I think of all that fine genetic material...Well, when I think of all that might have been...What can I say? Just *sigh*...

  3. This can also become a burden. For the first three years, WWJD stood for "What Would John Do?" I analyzed every decision from "his" point of view. Only recently have I been able to stop doing that. I have to practice saying to myself, " He's not here anymore, do it the way YOU want." And it sure feels good.