June 25, 2014
An “uncommon” common man.
On my last post of June 5, I said that although I am getting back to writing again, I won’t push myself as much as I have in the past. For example, although today I planned to hit the computer, I took time out for a trip with other residents of my retirement community to visit the new Pasadena Humane Society.
I was impressed with the facility and the money they raise to care for dogs, cats, birds, squirrels, raccoons, and miscellaneous creators that live among us.
As we walked through the new surgical center, I looked through a glass wall and saw an anesthetized pet lying on her back, all covered up except for the surgical area. It was easy to identify what had been removed: two fallopian tubes with ovaries at the ends and a small uterus. Stitching finished the process and one more animal could be loved without her owner worrying about unexpected puppies.
Okay, now that I’ve shared that piece of news — ‘cause I know you were dying to know where I was this morning — I’ll get working on this first of four posts concerning my husband, Bob, who died on February 12 and whose life we celebrated on April 19.
How two quite different people stayed together
First, I want to point out that Bob and I were very dissimilar. In fact, our children often asked me why we ever got married in the first place! I could only reply that it seemed like a good idea at the time.
The more interesting question is why in the world did we stay together for all those years?
As I reflect on how to answer that question, I think it is because we had a quid pro quo relationship. By that, I mean we accepted each other’s idiosyncrasies and realized we each contributed to the marriage in our own special way.
Bob’s approach to life came primarily from his left brain: logical, rational, and linear. While I am not unfamiliar with my left brain, I rely much more on the right brain’s contribution to life: spiritual, emotional, and metaphorical.
He claimed I was handicapped because I never studied differential or integral calculus. I responded by saying he was handicapped because he didn’t understand differential diagnoses of mental illness.
People are always surprised to learn that Bob never read any of my four books or any of my hundreds of articles. He just wasn’t interested in reading something to which he couldn’t relate.
When I tell people that my latest book is How to Love a Perfectionist Without Going Crazy, many who don’t know me (but know my husband was an engineer), assume the perfectionist in our family was my husband. Wrong! As readers of this blog know, I have struggled for years with perfectionism and believe it is because of my husband’s acceptance of me, just as I am, that I have been able to move from being a practicing perfectionist to a recovering perfectionist.
Bob’s excellent use of his brain allowed him to work as a mechanical and structural engineer and help develop some of the world’s leading finite element analysis software, Nastran. (Don’t worry if you don’t know what that means. I don’t either.) He continued to work 40 hours a week until shortly before his death at the age of 81. He often compared going to the office to “being paid for having fun.” A few weeks before his death, his company bestowed on him a lifetime achievement award and named him their first Technical Fellow.
If I had to paint a picture of his personality, I would need to say that, like many of us, he was complex; but what showed through was his kindness, generosity, modesty, humor, honesty, hard work, and intelligence. One thing he was not was pretentious, and fashion never interested him. All in all, you could say that he was comfortable in his own skin. My aunt said he was a most “uncommon” common man.
Bob called himself an introvert — gradually becoming more outgoing as the years went by — and wasn’t interested in philosophical discussions or self-analysis. He simply did his best and gave others a lot of space to be the best they could be.
When you were with him and it was time for you, or him, to go someplace else, he would wish you well and say, “Have fun. Enjoy life.” He certainly did!
In the next post I will share the things I most miss by not having him in my life.