by Daddy X
It happens that this topic has caught Momma and me in a “count our blessings” mode. Not that we live in a world where a spiritual entity has graced us in any way.
Just looking back, I hold gratitude for the choices we’ve stumbled into rather than planned. Right now it’s gratitude for the high quality of health care where we live, in the SF Bay area. We have Stanford, U.C., and our Kaiser health care system, which I am grateful for. UC and Kaiser have saved both our lives a number of times.
Two weeks ago, I had my appendix out @ 72 years old. Age was already a factor, seeing that most people have that operation much younger. The surgeon tried doing it laparoscopically, but complications arose resulting from the reshuffling of organs that occurred during my 2004 liver transplant. Turns out the appendix had been jammed up against the interior wall of the organ cavity and had adhered there, requiring scraping it away from inside. This nixed the opportunity for the laparoscopic procedure and I now sport two incisions. Sigh… But I’m back up and at it, thanks to Momma X and her diligent care. Man, am I grateful for her!
But back in 1964, that wasn’t the consensus, not if you had talked to our respective families. They all said it couldn’t survive. That our mixed-faith teenage infatuation was doomed from the start. But Momma and I knew better. So did our friends, who saw how we were together and the ways we complimented each other. So we went with that. Fuck our respective religions. We were old enough to have lost faith in such caprices anyway. We got married when she was six months out of high school. She came to live with me and another guy in our rented trailer. That in itself shocked my father.
And here we are, 52 years later. Still in love. Still filling in for each other’s inadequacies. She’s the organized one. I’m the doer. I’m the gambler, gambling that my next idea/career will work out. She makes sure I stay on a pragmatic path. So far so good.
When Momma’s grandmother died, we received a small inheritance. Wow! Though small by today’s standards, to us it was a large windfall that we’d never expected. In fact, we used to send her grandparents cash whatever we could. We knew they were on a fixed income, so we’d send $25-30 dollars several times a year, telling them to go out and spring for a cab instead of walking to do their errands as they usually did. We suspect that money went straight into savings accounts.
Luckily Momma and I understood ourselves to the point that we knew on some level that little chunk of cash could be our only chance for a down payment on a house. Before we frittered it away. This sturdy house was the second one we walked through. The more houses we viewed, the better this place looked.
So we bought it. We took on two mortgages and a small balloon to purchase this little home of ours. We went from paying $265 a month rent to $1300. Those first few years were a study in stretching every dollar. I think we allowed ourselves $1.25 a day for walking-around cash. We packed lunches. Lots of peanut butter sandwiches. Dinners of fried onions, cabbage and noodles. Big pots of soup. After thirty years, the place was paid off and had appreciated in value by multiples.
I’d like to say that this was all calculated, that we’d accomplished a well-executed plan. But no. It was just a matter of blindly stumbling into the right thing, the workable thing, decisions made in the moment that had far-reaching consequences, without benefit of certainty.
When we make these big decisions, who’s to know which are important and which can be justified only by circuitous imaginings. In other words, we like where luck has brought us.