Friday, March 30, 2007

Joe and Margaret - Tuesday, October 3, 2000

Tuesday, October 3, 2000

Margaret sighed as she put away the dairy and meat. There were still the gutters to do. At least with them she had an excuse for blue jeans. Joe had been so insistent on her wearing dresses after Pastor Larry mentioned the passage about women wearing clothes proper to their gender as it said in Deuteronomy 22:5. She couldn’t see the big deal - blue jeans were for both women and men, but Joe did. As she changed clothes she plotted - if I start in the back I should be around front when Joe can see me as he gets home. He’s always a little more ready when he sees me in blue jeans, I know I have to be patient since the accident, but the Bible did say for the husband to give due affection to the wife in I Corinthians 7:3. It seemed to be easier for Joe to give her a full measure of that affection when he had seen her in slacks or blue jeans.

“Margaret, Come here!”

Oops, Margaret thought, he's already home. “Yes, Joe? I’ll be a minute. I’m changing to go do the gutters.”

“The totals are wrong on the grocery list. It says sunflower seeds and I didn’t put any away and it doesn’t have the peanuts.”

“I’m sorry Joe, I didn’t catch that at the store. Should I go back and get it corrected?”

“What was the price of the peanuts?

“They were $2.19.”

“The sunflower seeds are listed at $1.99. No, Margaret, don’t go back. I’ll put the difference in a letter and mail it to them. Then I’ll take the costs out of next week's grocery allowance.”

Margaret sighed and went out the bedroom window. How could she get through to Joe that a few pennies didn’t matter? He seemed to be more unreasonable each day. She agreed with him about the importance of honesty. But, honestly, a few pennies mistake at the supermarket, a wrong price just didn’t seem that important.

Joe wondered why Margaret couldn’t see how important honesty was. It didn’t matter who made the mistake – honesty was the only way to live. Keeping track of every penny enabled one to do God’s will. He still remembered the error he had made the night of his accident. If only he had done God’s will, the accident wouldn’t have happened. Maybe then he could have continued to be the husband Margaret deserved.

But then, Joe thought, maybe if Margaret would look to me as head of the household I would be able to be a better husband. The Bible does tell women that as Christ is head of the church so the man is the head of the woman. Margaret gets that some of the time - but too often she has an independent streak. She just keeps missing wrong amounts on the grocery list. I just can’t see why the counselor thinks that is not important when we talk about how I’m recovering from the accident.

Margaret finished the gutters and went to change. Joe’s going to be upset if he sees me in blue jeans, she thought. If I change into a nice dress, he may say I’m being a good wife. I’m grateful he hasn’t yet noticed the passage about blending two types of fabrics (Leviticus 19:19), it’s difficult enough to meet the church's idea of what are women's clothes. Joe’s been so good to me it’s the least I can do.

Joe had dinner ready by the time Margaret came down. He’d taken over that chore after she started doing some of his jobs. Margaret didn’t think Joe realized how much she enjoyed mowing the yard, cleaning gutters and generally getting messy. It wasn’t womanly, but it was fun. She didn’t think Joe realized how much he had hated those jobs, though he did realize how much he enjoyed cooking. She knew Joe worried about the mixing of gender roles, but since his accident there was just no way he could do those outside jobs.

Joe began praying, “O God, bless this food to your use and us to your service. Help us to love each other as we love you and may we always be grateful for your gifts as we give you the obedience that you command. Amen.” Margaret looked at the burnt meatloaf and wondered if she should volunteer to cook, but no, Joe wanted to feel useful as if he could do more, and Joe seemed to enjoy it even when he made mistakes.

Joe continued talking, “Pastor Larry’s sermon was interesting. I’ve been thinking about the James part about calling in the elders. I just think I should be healing faster. Pastor Larry is so right about us needing to be a part of the community of the church and how we need to model the order in heaven in our families and church. Jesus heads up the church, then the elders head up the church and the husband heads up the family. Should we start in James in our evening Bible studies or do you want to keep going straight through?”

“I think we should keep going through the Bible, Joe, though getting through one of those shorter books sounds attractive. It would feel like we got through more if we could just chalk that one up as finished. But whatever you decide is o.k. with me. And then, we are starting Ruth so it’s a short book like James. I really don’t have a preference. You’re the head of the house. I like both thoughts.”

“Let’s go with Ruth then.”

Margaret was relieved; she really wanted to study Ruth. It was so encouraging hearing about the women in the Bible. They finished the meal in silence.

Margaret rinsed and loaded the dishwasher thinking how lucky she was. She had started cooking at eight after her mother disappeared. Her father had never talked about it except to say that now that his wife was gone his daughter would be responsible for her duties. She knew, now, how sick it was for him to expect her to do everything a wife did, but what did an eight-year-old know. Joe had given her a resting-place from all those demands and let her choose her own time. His patience had been so wonderful, if he needed time to recover from the accident; well she could just give it to him.

As usual Joe read. Margaret picked up some cross-stitch, she was beginning a series of Christmas ornaments, and went to her own thoughts. So Orpah and Ruth are encouraged to go to their mother’s houses. I wonder what it would have been like to have known my mother and mother’s mother. I think I have memories of playing in a garden, but I wonder if that is from one of the houses we lived in before my mother disappeared or if it really was with my grandmother. But I’m not sure I want to find out, if they were anything like my father’s family then I’m better off not meeting them, though I don’t recall anyone yelling at me other than my father and his family. Mom seemed pretty quiet, at least in what I remember. When we got married I didn’t know where that “entreat me not to leave thee,” came from. But Joe has been my safe haven and I am so thankful for that. He gave me such a wonderful space when we got married. He didn’t make any demands except to see that the house was clean and that is so easy after living with my father. My father kept demanding that the house be clean, sparkling clean, but he could come in drunk and spill liquor all over and still expect it to be clean when he got up. And if anything was out of place. Well, I just don’t have to worry about that with Joe.

copyright Roger Victoria 2007

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