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Fly Fishing, Marriage & the Risk of Asking for Help

Have you ever asked a loved one to help you with something? I should have known better than to ask my husband to show me how to fly fish. I was already reading The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fly Fishing by Michael D. Shook. And I am an idiot—I’m sorry—a completeidiot when it comes to the sport of fly-fishing.

Christy Hayes

Me in my seriously oversized fly fishing outfit (otherwise known as waders)

We were on vacation. On a river. With all the gear. And he was going anyway. I’d already read the first five chapters, through knots and casting. Now all I needed was the feel of the rod in my hand and the sound of the water. Just me and nature and my most loved one. Why you ask? For my work in progress, of course! I couldn’t care less about fishing, mostly because if I actually caught a fish, I’d have to touch it to get it off the hook and I really didn’t want to touch it.

The first time I’d ever asked him for help was back in college when I was taking accounting for non-majors and he (a finance/risk management major) seemed like the perfect person to help. He loved me. We never fought (remember new love?), and he was way smarter than I was about math. It was our first fight.

Obviously, we made it through, but it set the stage for a lifetime of me asking for help and him seriously making me mad and not being able to relinquish control. The scenario plays itself over and over again whenever he and our son try to do something together. My poor baby! He can’t call the man a control freaking idiot and walk away the way I can. Although now that he’s fifteen, it probably won’t be long.

What is it about spouses? Is it just me? Even when I ask him to help with something simple, something I’m sure he won’t take over, we end up at odds and I end up wishing I’d never asked.

At the end of our lesson when he wrestled the rod from my hands for the hundredth time saying, “Watch me. Like this,” I couldn’t take it any more. I didn’t want to watch him. I wanted to do it myself and figure it out on my own. I guess that’s what happens when two headstrong people vie for control of a situation that requires finesse and patience—two things neither of us possess.

So make me feel better, will you? Tell me about a time when you and your significant other struggled to get along and complete a task. And if you know of any fishing guides out there who’d be willing to answer some pretty basic questions, send them my way, would you? 🙂

PATIENCE, GRASSHOPPER

I interrupt my writing time to take my 92 year old father-in-law (FIL) and 83 year old mother-in-law (MIL) shopping. My FIL uses a walker and shuffles at a snail’s pace. My MIL moves almost as slow.

I must constantly remind myself Patience, Grasshopper, for one day you will need assistance, too.

We start at the bank, where my FIL and I chat in the car until my MIL returns. Then we drive to the health food store and wait some more. Every time I have to help one of them in and out of the vehicle, it’s pure agony. We’ve only been gone an hour, and we still haven’t reached our main destination.

At Wal-Mart, I park beside the front entrance so my in-laws won’t have so far to walk. I almost – almost – leave the car running and the keys in the ignition. At the very last moment, something tells me to grab the keys and I pocket them. By the time I get around to the passenger side, my FIL has locked himself in the vehicle and can’t figure out how to get out.

After unloading my passengers, I park the vehicle and hurry inside. My MIL is watching for me and the moment she sees me, she races off at a surprisingly fast clip. My FIL decides this is the perfect opportunity to do his own grocery shopping. Soon my arms are filled with cereal and wagon wheels and bananas and bread.

I find a cart and dump the groceries in, but by now my FIL misses his wife. We spot her snow white hair on the opposite side of the store and we start our long journey toward her – shuffling forward inch by inch. Half way to our destination, my MIL disappears up an aisle. By the time we reach the spot where we’ve last seen her, she’s gone.

We search the aisles and finally find her, only to have her race off again. By the time we’ve made a complete circle around the store, we’re both exhausted and agree that it’s time to sit down at the nearby fast food joint.

But the moment we have our coffee and juice in hand, my MIL appears. Strangely, the items in her cart are not bagged, but since she’s headed off to buy herself a coffee, I assume she’s finished shopping and has run her items through the cash register.

We finish our refreshments, which means I’m nearly home-free, and now all we have left is one quick stop at the pharmacy. Then my MIL remembers a few more items she has to pick up. And oh yeah, she still needs to pay for her purchases.

It takes us three and a half hours to do what would normally take me less than an hour. I smile, silently thank my Dad for sharing his patience gene with me, and sit back to wait.

Three and a half precious hours. As far as time goes, it’s a drop in the bucket of my life. My in-laws won’t be here forever. I remind myself Patience, Grasshopper, for one day you will need assistance, too.

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