My Father's Words

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

My wife's phone recently began the short and rapid decline towards shitting-the-bedsville, and so today she went to the Apple Store to "check out her options."  Unsurprising to me, next to her name on the account were the magic words eligible for upgrade.  For those few of you who have been fortunate enough to avoid such ubiquitous entities as the Comcast Triple Play (the only know reason for people still having land lines), the Discount Double Check, and AT&T's upgrade eligibility, let me explain in brief.

Ever two years, with the renewal of your phone plan, you get about $450 off the price of a new iPhone.    That's about it.  If you aren't considering switching phone companies, it's a pretty sweet deal.

So, Erin is now forced to deal with the uncomfortable situation of treating herself to something nice.  This is not her forte.  It's not that she doesn't ever want anything nice, it is that she, like so many worthwhile people out there,  doesn't feel as if she deserves it.  And she does.  More than most people I know.  She stands in there and does the nose to the grindstone reading leg-work with these elementary schoolers, and then her thoughts hang on their every struggle and accomplishment.  I'm not saying she is female Jesus or the good-girl sister of Mother Teresa, but when it comes to spending $100 to get the phone she wants instead of the one that comes free, she's way good enough for that.  Not that goodness has ever been a requisite for consumption.  Nonetheless, I get the following text (edited):

"Phone's only mostly broke. Upgrade Eligible. Gonna get free one."

And as I respond, I realize they are my father's words I am typing, "Get the nicer one. You're worth it."

"You're worth it."

These three words form the cornerstone of my father's relationship toward my mother.  My dad views his entire galaxy in her eyes, and begs her to see just one of her stars reflected back.  And over the past few years, she's totally found her solar system.  In retirement my mom finally has the time she's needed to invest in herself, to see what a cornucopia of talents she can excavate.  Renaissance men come from renaissance women.

"Get the purple one.  You're worth it."

"Get the lobster.  You're worth it."

"Take the day off to visit your sister.  You're worth it"

And these comments pass by my childhood like lamented photo-album pages, their meaning seemingly insignificant as the page quickly folds over the last.  But the truth of understanding your partner's worthiness is a concept so fundamentally important that while the indirect objects have faded from my memory (the earrings, dinners, shoes…) the singular importance of the direct object (my mother) remains.

My dad stood behind me in the bathroom, applied shaving cream, and then taught me step by step how to shave without turning my face into a Freddie Krueger original.  When he taught me how to drive, he generously applied the lessor known air-arm-break, pumping his left arm vigorously as if trying to both stop our car while simultaneously propelling the oncoming traffic backward.  But, my dad never sat me down and told me how to be a good husband.  In truth, he didn't even pay much attention to my romantic partners over the years.  As an explanation for this uncharacteristic apathy, I would say that in my mind, prioritizing one woman maxed out his available resources.

But my wife's inability to understand that the "S" in iPhone 5S stands for 'spectacular', and that that is what she is, causes a visceral knee jerk response in me.  It propels me to remind her that without her, my legs don't reach the ground.  Without her love, I am Sandra Bullock floating away in space well past the event horizon of any Clooney rescue mission (no, I have not, and will not, see that panic attack of a movie). She warms my galaxies with her starlight, and her unsullied integrity is infinitely more valuable than a few extra dollars spent on a phone upgrade.

And as those words 'You're worth it' rush through the air above our heads in a million tiny little pieces, I think to myself, "my dad did teach me how to be a good husband, he just didn't sit me down first to tell me to pay attention." 

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