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At 7:00 this morning, I was in a store buying a forty. Malt liquor is not my thing; I was buying the bigger box of Tampax Super-plus for Mrs. algebrateacher so that she wouldn't run out before I got home from work.

Today is not only Saturday, it is also the first day of my school district's Spring Break. In order to make some extra money, I went in to work to be one of the two certificated teachers supervising a Saturday Attendance Recovery Program. Students who need to make up an absence show up for four hours (I think more than a few have parents who see four hours their kid isn't home but they are, which might lead to the newest, youngest kid in the family) and the school district gets to collect Average Daily Attendance (ADA) money from the State.

At my pay rate, working today was worth a couple hundred dollars. My wife and I can use the money.

Mrs. algebrateacher hasn't been feeling well lately. After the first few days, she announced that I didn't have to worry, which has been her way of heading me off before I tentatively approach her with the question about whether I should be worried. Worried means I prepare myself- I steel myself- for a long period of caring for her because she's going to need more than usual. Twenty-six years of back problems, surgeries, a cancer scare, an SUV that hit her while she crossed the street...she's disabled but not incapacitated. She can't work but she can still get around, though more and more she needs a day to recover from the day before. She tells me not to worry about that, but I do.

I am fifty-four but I've been an old married man for quite a while. I hold my wife's purse in stores. I decide between two sets of earrings about which goes best with the top she's wearing, the one that I decided for her over another because it goes better with the skirt she's going to wear. I've been buying the right box of Tampax for many years, especially since I take an empty box with me. I shouldn't have to do that anymore because she's fifty-eight and has been pre-menopausal way too long. She's irritated by it but tells me not to worry.

Recently, our term life insurance lapsed and it seemed like a big deal until we realized that the girls are out of the house. I don't have to worry about raising them anymore. It's just us, now. We talked about it and Mrs. algebrateacher said, if something "happened" to her, I should be alright because I'm still working and will be for at least a dozen more years. I will be able to stay in the house and the bills will get paid. What I thought of, while she said this, was that if she passed away, I probably wouldn't want to live in the house anymore. So much of the house is hers and the girls'. I don't need all this room for just myself. I'd rent a space for all the stuff and live somewhere efficiently.

Then she said, "You know, if something happened to you, I couldn't live in this house. I couldn't take care of things the way you do. And the memories...this is our house. I don't think I could live here without you." We agreed that she'd go live somewhere else. Her dad would take her in in Phoenix but that's not going to be available someday. I'm sure that both of my sisters would let her live with them, particularly the one she was on a trip with the night my mom died. My mom's illness strengthened bonds that already existed between my wife and sisters.

What she'd need is some money. Between survivor's benefits and the relatively small life insurance I have through my Union and my school district, and minus a mortgage and homeowner's insurance, she might be able to adjust. I am still worried, though, that she'll have enough. I need to investigate on the cost of enough insurance to get her through for, I suppose, the next dozen years.

I'm no fool about my health. Since my ventricular tachycardia incident six years ago, I've been living with an implanted defibrillator. Supposedly I'm less likely to drop down dead because of it but just having Death wave at you as he passed by makes you think about things a little differently. My secret prayer is that I don't go through a long illness or other incapacity. It would be too hard for Mrs. algebrateacher. It was really hard for her six years ago while I was in the hospital and then home recovering. She and the girls would have a hard time caring for me. I think it would be tougher on them than surviving me. I worry about that.

So when some people can't grasp how being married means you take care of someone else, and you worry about someone else more than you worry about yourself, and you worry about taking care of them even after you're gone, and you tell the world with a vow and a piece of paper and you tell the world that it better respect that bond, and if a man wants to do that with another man or a woman wants to do that with another woman then, yes, dammit, I get how important that is and the world should just accept it and respect it.

And anybody who doesn't understand that kind of bond and wants to deny it in any way, well, I have a fucking problem with that.

Originally posted to algebrateacher on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 05:01 PM PDT.

Also republished by WYFP?.

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