Photo of 1950s ad man, fictional character Don Draper, sitting in an office chair, slightly reclined.

Photo credit: Everett Collection

I’m pretty much a 1950s male. Many women are jealous, including my mother.

Practical Man retired early, after a career in mining, the military, and technical work thereafter. He has done the home stuff for us (laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning, maintenance, yard work) for our entire marriage.

He was home and he was great at it.

The result is over 22 years of me being a person who has a person to do most of their basic needs stuff. Being a 1950s male has been pretty great, I’ll be honest.

But, this luxury lifestyle means that I have forgotten most of anything I once knew (if I ever knew it) about garbage/recycling night, which cleaner gets the dirt out of the micro-fiber sofa, re-starting the water pump for our well/household water supply, paying bills, changing the furnace filter, grocery shopping (I accidentally bought $75 chicken two years ago), rattling the thingamabob on the lawn tractor when it won’t start, how to get the water to fill all the way to the top on our washing machine, when to pick the potatoes in the garden, and how to flip the air ducts from summer to winter…just to mention a few things.

He runs our house. This, on top of chopping trees and splitting firewood, welding, digging stuff up with the tractor, plumbing, electrical, woodworking, building, renovations, and fixing everything that breaks.  Even after taking early retirement myself two years ago, I still basically show up, do a little writing and episodic vacuuming, career advising and the odd bit of baking and sewing (both of which he can do just as well or better than I can), and crawl into bed.

Tomorrow, he’s getting half his lung removed to try to rid his body of two aggressive cancer tumours. The recovery will be long and includes time in the ICU. It’s scary and brutal and may involve additional sick-making treatment, after the surgery and/or long-term illness. In the past few weeks, he’s been doing everything that can be done in advance and I’ve been getting a crash course in how to run our house–indeed, our lives. My part has barely scratched the surface and this student deserves grades at about a C- or less, when it comes to practical matters. Beyond the house, there is all The Nature that comes with our property.

Everyone knows how I feel about The Nature.

I am like Don Draper of Mad Men fame and many others of that ilk, masquerading as 2020 humans. I can teach a class of a hundred medical students, but I have to ask for help to find many items in the grocery store. I can write an entire book, but I know next to nothing about what’s in our freezer.

On the other hand, I do have healthcare training and experience from long ago so I can help with personal care and support better than many, but I’m positive I’m going to get my stack of newspapers and plastics rejected by the recycling guys and that will ruin Practical Man’s shining record.

He tells me he’ll only be gone for a few days and he’s done everything he can to get things ready. I know he’s right, but still:

Send Help.😳😫🤣