Working Vacations

Rob took his work along when we visited the States this summer. Three weeks of checking email and troubleshooting from afar. He even attended a virtual meeting during week two when we were in Iowa. He very seldom leaves work at work. His reporting supervisors have even nominated him for awards because of his long distance dedication to “a job well done”

And around his workplace, Rob is known for staycations that are anything but due to the ongoing renovation. His latest bit of time off in fact is all about plumbing, electrical and hardwood flooring.

Our recent trip to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia was more about helping his mother pack and purge (the latter being rather subjective) than relaxing on the beaches of southern Skaha Lake.

We are at an age where holidays are anything but relaxing. If elderly parents do not need attention, children do.

The eight days at my mom’s in July was all about her renovation project. Instead of the hiking and fishing we’d tentatively planned, it was filled with trips to Lowe’s and supervising the contractor. The B.C. trip consisted of packing, hauling and errands.

Part of the problem is that Rob is dependable, knowledgeable beyond the average person and just too damned handy for his personal good. And he is a number one son. Everyone’s go-to. Got a problem? Rob can probably fix it and if you are family, he’ll feel obligated to try even if he can’t.

In the month of August alone, he’s had no fewer than 3 family members approach him with issues that they could have dealt with on their own, but as Rob never just says “no” outright, he is usually a safe bet.

I remember this well, but living on the opposite side of an international border has really cut down on the number requests I receive anymore.

Vacation deprived last year because of the whole “heart attack” thing, we worked as much holiday into our schedule as we could once the weather warmed. A week in Fairmont Hot Springs at the timeshare was laziness itself, but three weeks gadding about in the holiday trailer sometimes felt like work and the “family time” squeezed in between Yellowstone and camping in the less traveled areas after was all about getting Dee fortified with grandma, auntie and cousin time with a side-order of looking out for an elderly mom. In more than a word – exhausting.

The trip west was motivated by Rob’s mother moving to Arizona. Her husband is already there, getting the place ship-shape and hounding his congressman, who is hounding U.S. Immigration about my mother-in-law’s residency application. Even though it’s just paperwork, the U.S. is quite tight-assed about granting legal entrance to the foreign spouse’s of American citizens. There’s nothing they can do to force Americans to just marry each other but they are snitty about it when one doesn’t. Holding up routine requests like this is just one of the ways America lets its miffed feelings be known.

So without her husband to help, Gee has been packing to be out of her condo at the end of the month, and she needed help. Naturally, none of Rob’s other siblings can help. At least I have DNOS when Mom is in need. Rob has …me. And I am better than nothing but not by much because with me comes Dee.

At nine now, she is less mothering intensive, and she is a far superior road warrior than she was when we first moved to a country where nearly every trip of consequence exceeds an hour or more one way. But she is nine. She needs periodic interaction, regular feeding and watering and sleep at the minimum, so my attention is divided.

But I am fully aware that no one factors Rob’s needs into any request for assistance like I do. His heart attack looms over my thought processes whenever stress rears its evil green dripping with fetid slime self. I can tell by the sheen of his eyes and the hallow of his cheeks when he’s running on fumes and the depth of his sighs speak eloquently. If I am not on the scene monitoring, no one else will.

Some of this is Rob’s fault. Competency and a history of saving the day are never rewarded. Good deeds are always punished with being taken for granted and more work. He never says, “I’m tired or busy or have a literal mountain of my own crap to do”. He says “Sure, I might be able to assist” even when he’s really going to stretch himself beyond his limits. My husband is a victim of his own history of awesome successes and even really competent patch-work. The curse of the number one son.

4 responses to “Working Vacations

  1. Pingback: Anti-Holiday Letters | anniegirl1138

  2. Pingback: Fictionish | anniegirl1138

  3. very tough to say ‘no’ to a parent. or a child. but trying to draw the line there, and say “Not my f-ing problem!” to the siblings, cousins, and random favor-askers? might help you get some of your personal time back…

    • It would be easier if Rob was not generally viewed as Superman. His image is so CGI enhanced that some fail to see the real man behind it. He doesn’t have the time or resources to fix everything and often it is our life that gets put on hold while he’s expected to step up and be the designated hitter in someone else’s life. Witness our still non-functioning new kitchen or the not quite finished stone work on the exterior. No one thinks to offer him help in return for all he gives.

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