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Friday, 05 November 2010

Midlife Surprise

By Nancy Leitz

In the fall of 1978, the house was almost an empty nest, but not quite. Jerry was still technically living at home except that he was at Lafayette College starting his senior year. Roy was busy working at Hummel Engineering and I had just left the pharmacy where I had worked as a pharmacy assistant for 11 years.

I was sort of having a midlife crisis. At 50 years old, I thought I was too old to go back to school but the kids thought otherwise and for Christmas that year Chris and Patty presented me with a tuition payment for a course at Gwynedd College.

I chose to take English Literature and, to make a long story even longer, I loved it and thrived on the college life. The next semester I chose a course on Shakespeare and enjoyed that, too. But, I was confused. I couldn’t figure out if I was enjoying the courses themselves or just being in school.

I finally realized that I was happiest when I was busy doing something and now that the main thrust of my life (raising four children to be productive adults) was over, I wanted to find a real job that would keep me occupied most of the time.

Roy was not an 8 to 4:30 sort of guy - more like an 7 to 7:30 sort of guy. So I decided to take real estate courses the next semester and see if that would be something I would like and would keep me busy and satisfied.

Well, it turned out that I loved being a Realtor and Roy loved it too because it took all the pressure off of him to reduce his hours on the job; I was away almost as much as he was.

So, we settled into a routine. Almost every Saturday and Sunday when he was OFF, I was ON. There was always a house to show or an open house to spend Sunday afternoon in. He started to do the food shopping and even the cooking. It was wonderful to come home tired from a long day of showing buyers a lot of houses and find Roy in the kitchen cooking a nice dinner for us.

At first, he was willing but not too good at selecting a nice mix of meat, potatoes and vegetables. Sometimes he would have a steak and an ear of corn. Or a pork chop with beans. Once, I came in and he was delighted to serve a steak, mashed potatoes, corn, baked beans and a roll and butter. I looked at my plate and laughed as I told him that if I perspired, I would starch my dress.

But, gradually, he got much better in his selections and began to make nice tossed salads to go with his steaks and, in general, he got very good as a chef.

This had been going on for almost a year when our wedding anniversary came along. On the night of the celebration of our 28th year of marriage we decided to exchange gifts before eating the lovely meal he had prepared. Until we opened each other’s gifts, I never realized how much our roles in this marriage had changed. Why?

Because he gave me a briefcase and I gave him a blender.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


This was wonderful Nancy. It's amazing how our roles in life can change....and work for us. You and Roy sound like you have been a very adaptable and well-suited couple for your entire married life. Cheers to you both...and love. ~Joy

Roy sounds like a good catch - a man who can give up some control.

That last line is priceless!

Nancy - Great story, as usual!

This would never work in our home because my cooking skills start and end with toast. (Except when I burn it.) - Sandy


Yes,thanks to Roy's cheerful disposition we have had a great marriage.

We just celebrated our 60th Wedding Anniversary in September.

Thanks for your nice comment.

We have gotten along all these years because I always let him make the big decisions and I make the small ones.
The small ones are: Where we will live.What religion we will be.How many children we will have.
The big ones that Roy makes are: Should we admit Turkey to NATO? Or how many troops should we have in Afghanistan? See, I'm fair..

Gail: Thanks! I am glad to enjoyed it.

Sandy: Before Roy began cooking for us he was pretty much like you. He didn't know he recipe for ice. Now, he really is a good cook.

I was lured along so gently and then you hit me with the last line. What a charming, loving and yet funny story.

Naturally this was a great story. I showed up too early yesterday to read it and am glad to see it today. You really got us with that last line. Our story is close because when Ron and I married, he did all of the cooking. I had never been very domestic and he had taken care of his own feeding for fifteen years. Little by little he taught me to cook and now I love it so much. Most of the meals I fix are the ones he taught me to make.


Thanks for the nice comment.I appreciate it and am happy you enjoyed that last line.


Yes, we should both count our blessings that we got great husbands who like to do things for us.

Nancy, I lost my note about your story and just found it - hence the lateness of the comment. I love all your stories and this one is especially funny! I wish my husband knew how to cook - let alone choose what to serve!! You were lucky!

Hi Judy

Yes, I was lucky to get a guy who wanted to cook. He was also very mechanical so I seldom had a repair man in the house.

Thanks for your nice comment.I appreciate it.

I love stories like this because they shatter the commonly held belief that all households in the earlier days were stereotypical and Traditional: Mom was a housewife and Dad was the one who "went to work." In truth, there were plenty of situations like yours, and they were very harmonious. You and your husband are a treasure!

Hi Nance,

I enjoyed reading your thoughtful comment.Thanks for your kind words.

I came right through your NEO hometown on Sunday on the way to Philadelphia from having Thanksgiving dinner in Chicago.

The "Lake Effect" snow was flying around and I must say I thought of you as we passed the exit for Cleveland on the Ohio Turnpike.

I loved the pictures of Marlowe and Piper on your site. We have a new "Grandkitty" in Chicago named Sparkle and he is a beauty. I will send you a picture of him.

Thanks, Ronni, for making this conversation possible.You are the best!

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