Rick has pondered publicly about purpose and choices. Whitenoise has openly mused about life paths. Mary and I have discussed many, many times the ideas of growth and change and how the obligations we willingly (if not somewhat ignorantly) took on early in life have a limiting influence in the present.
The way my family and I live our lives changed dramatically on a Tuesday morning. December 6, 2005. Eleven thirty. Mister and I were driving a small pick-up truck and were rear-ended in a parking lot. Mister felt pressure in his lower back. Very large L4/5 disk herniation. Excruciating pain--and Mister has a superhuman threshold for pain.
The usual treatments ensued. Rest. Drugs. Cortisone injections. And finally surgery. Surgery worked. But rebuilding the strength he lost has been a far lengthier process than either of us ever expected. And he's not back to his normal workload. And likely never will be. My crab fisherman turned tugboat engineer husband can no longer live on the water. He cannot haul the heavy cables and crawl around in the tight areas of a marine engine room. It's over. His body has said so.
It's not like we didn't realize that this strong, healthy man wasn't going to be eternally strong and healthy. But what we didn't make any contingency plans for is that it would change in a heartbeat.
When the accident happened, Mister was only 43. Before that Tuesday morning, it had not occurred to us to start seriously thinking about the next phase for us when his body could no longer handle the work he is accustomed to. We are thinking now.
I have made a decision. It's my turn at bat. Easier said than done! I've been out of the workforce for 15 years, and prior to that I was only marginally there. And--here's the biggie--I am not qualified for anything! Well, nothing I am interested in. I don't have a four year degree. I have a silly two year 'degree' from a community college. My field of interest was geology. Combing the classifieds lately hasn't turned up too many openings for part time housewife/geologists. With good pay. And benefits.
Would I have more options now if I had transferred to a university? It's a moot point. I had two little children by the time I finished my stint at the local community college. I wasn't going to go on. Nor was I really interested. By then I figured that instead of more school, I could learn about anything I was interested in from books--and much more cheaply.
But . . . I wasn't peering closely enough into the crystal ball when I made that decision. I didn't realize that choosing not to continue with school would seriously hedge my alternatives when I turned 40 and still had a 12 year old to finish raising and my 45 year old husband needed to take time to let his body heal and then retrain because he had lost everything he had ever known. Somehow I didn't see that coming . . .
Choices. Life paths. Obligations.
To be continued . . .