As yesterday drew to a close I began to get a sense of real excitement. The long weekend arrives at last. A sense of quiet descends around the office as people begin to leave for the day. My last appointment is cancelled and I'm left with a bit of time before Joe arrives to gather me up and take me home. I don't want to work anymore so I call the boss and talk to her about oolong tea, surf the net reading other bloggers blogs, tidy up my lunch stuff and ready my wheelchair bag. When the phone rings I know Joe is downstairs and waiting for me.
Today is a 'we're a family' day. We are getting set to make a huge vat of chili in order to can a dozen or so jars. That means that I'm going to spend the morning chopping onions and peppers and then we'll slowly fry them up, making the kitchen fragrent with the smells of enterprise. We'll open the cans of beans and ready the spices - we like our chili to have kick so we'll pull out the chili powder, cayanne pepper and a few spices that make our chili really our own. Over our 39 years together, we've fine tuned the recipe and our secret ingredients will never be shared.
We do this often, we cook up vats of spaghetti sauce to can, make huge lasagnes to freeze into meal sized portions, and every time we do it we enter into well rehearsed dance. Each knowing what to do and when, chatting the whole while about work, people we know and our life together. Given the amount of time we spend together it's perhaps amazing that we still have anything to say, but we do, and in the relaxed atmosphere of a shared task we say what needs to be said.
This is an activity that has not been touched, even slightly, by my disability. I have my kitchen wheelchair which allows me free movement around the kitchen, allows me to fully participate in what we do together, ensures that my contributions are real. At least once I'll say something that will dissolve Joe into fits of laughter, at least once Joe will say something that is so obscure that I'll be lost for a moment looking for the threads of his logic. It's tradition. That we are a family, a couple, would be obvious to anyone with the capacity to pick up the sent of chili on the stove.
This is my family.
I value it.