Notepad on Life

February 15, 2010

My new mentors on sensitivity – rugby players…

Filed under: Family — - @ 11:14 pm
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Ireland vs Georgia, Rugby World Cup 2007. Stad...
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A strapping England rugby player and his petite wife are interviewed on Mr & Mrs.

“I couldn’t imagine being without her,” he reflects. “It would absolutely break me.”

He’s already set me up by being such a goody two-shoes where domestic chores are concerned, yet the verbal salvo fired at me from the far end of the sofa when the interview ends, takes me aback with its sheer directness.

“I don’t think you’d feel that way about me if I wasn’t here,” my wife says, with the tone of a woman trying to make out she’s been reduced to a state of resigned acceptance. “I think you’d just carry on as if nothing had happened.”

I’m genuinely shocked by this. The insinuation is so brutal, it briefly winds my reason like a punch to the gut. My initial reaction is to think it must be true, because it was said with such feeling…

It takes me the rest of the weekend to rationalise. I remember how I am when she goes away for a while; the initial bliss of space and silence giving way to unease and dissatisfaction as my mind turns in on itself.

I think of life without a sounding board, its grey moods no longer lifted by a moment of her daftness and it undoubtedly registers. I think of the intermittent jabs of realisation as to just how lucky I am, which hit home as surely as they did 18 years ago.

And I remember the story my mother told me about my grandmother, her husband dead at 53, setting about a mountain of laundry the day after his funeral.

“Leave that, mam,” my mother pleaded with her. “I can wash them later.”

“He’s dead, sweetheart,” my grandmother replied. “We’ve got to get on with it.”

Exactly. You can weep buckets but you still have to get on with it, just as millions of people have done since the dawn of humanity.

So it’s genetic, then, and if it means that I turn out to be made of slightly tougher stuff than your average England rugby player, well, I’m not going to be embarrassed by that fabulous possibility.

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