“Great place to eat,” my friend Judy said, pointing to the new mall diner, finishing our weekly walk. “Dave and I ate there yesterday. Been there yet?”
“Us? You gotta be kidding. We only eat out on vacations and special occasions…But then we go first-class,” I said, trying to cover up my husband’s cheapness.
”Really? You never eat out?”
“Only rarely. How ‘bout you?”
“Once a week at least,” she said, noting her husband also eats lunch out at work. But then, we’ll probably never retire like you all,” she added, trying to make me feel better. “Don’t you ever get cooking burnout? You know, bored with your old menus? I grow weary searching for new recipes. But then, I’m no gourmet cook.”
”Yeah, I guess,” I sighed. ”But, hey, no gourmet cook here, either. I went into marriage knowing only how to scramble eggs. Then there was my Italian mother-in-law. A real cook. Made her own pasta, slaved over a hot stove of homemade spaghetti sauce. No Ragu for her, mind you. I remember how intimidated I’d felt around her. But I have cooked her son’s dinner for the past 34.5 years.”
“But you guys are retiring soon. Time you started enjoying life.”
“Yeah right,” I said, trying to hide my resentment.
We ended our walk and I drove home, wondering, just when do I get to retire?
At home I prepared dinner, as usual, wondering just how many meals I’d cooked over the past 34.5 years of marriage. I figured a little less than 365 meals a year times 34.5 long years. I did the math, subtracting birthdays and other holidays…. Taking off roughly 14 days a year (for vacations and special occasions) the number came to around 12,474 meals.
Okay, I confess. I only cook his dinners. My husband, Ed, is trained to pour his own Wheaties and slap bread and lunch meat together for his breakfasts and weekend lunches. But then, again, I’ve packed his lunches all these years. So adding on an additional 250 bagged lunches each year, I came up with 8625 lunches. Added to the 12,474 dinners, that makes 21,099 meals I’ve prepared.
A traditional couple. That’s us. Maybe I can’t change a tire, but he can’t boil water. Yep, back in our day the junior high gals took “Home Economics” and the guys took “Shop.” Not like today where the classes are equally mixed.
Whenever I fly south to take care of my elderly mom, Ed panics, calling me long-distance for help with his TV dinners. He’s also clueless when it comes to grocery shopping. One time I sent him to the store for lettuce and he came back with cabbage.
I put dinner aside and continued packing for our move to our new retirement home next week. I’d almost forgotten about the old cookbooks my late mother-in-law had given me as wedding presents. My “Dinner for Two” cookbook, the pages now yellowed and smeared with mustard and barbecue sauce, had remained, unmoved on the bookshelf for years. After more than three decades, I knew the recipes by heart. I remembered how I’d cried when I’d burned the waffles after we got back from our honeymoon. But it wasn’t long before I did learn to cook. And I’ve been cooking ever since…..
I took a break and opened the mail. My spirits brightened when I spotted a late Christmas card from an old college roommate. Shocked, I learned she’d recently separated from her husband who was addicted to internet pornography. Then she shared more distressing news about a mutual friend whose husband had left her for a younger woman.
I thought about my own husband and realized I was blessed. Never, not even once, had I ever worried about him being unfaithful. He may be a penny-pinching old-fashioned traditionalist, he was still a good husband. My less-than-Christ-like attitude convicted me.
I don’t need these cookbooks anymore. Haven’t used them for years. What I need is a good recipe for a happy retirement. Not another recipe for lasagna, I sighed, sucking in my bulging stomach.
Then, dusting off an old family bible (another wedding present I’d received years ago from my mother-in-law), I opened it. The scripture jumped off the page…."And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus….”
Hmm…..A recipe worth trying….?
And a guaranteed formula for a happy retirement.
*Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
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