Our Story Begins:
A Change in Perspective
A Change in Me!
I used to dread the last week of October and first week of November.
This, by the way, was long before my wife, Andrea passed away.
The reason for the stress and difficulty was always the events that would be coming in that week-long period. They always created scenarios that made my head feel like it was going to split open.
First, and this was most stressful, was my late wife, Andrea’s birthday: October 30th. I’ve detailed before that I never seemed to get this day right. Most of this was my fault, I will cop to that. I work in an industry that lives off of ratings and those ratings periods happen four times a year. February, May, July and November the Nielsen company measures viewership for local television stations. The one major hiccup in that is that the November ratings period inevitably starts the last week of October. Andrea’s birthday, Halloween, and my oldest daughter’s birthday all fall in that ratings period. The ratings period is a major time for television and it’s also when I worked the most hours.
Stress came because my wife was constantly calling asking me to come home early on those days. Not just her birthday, though that was always the day she called most . . . but also the other two days. Andrea hated being surprised, yet when I gave her a gift she already knew and wanted she was upset because, wonder of wonders, there was no surprise. We had more arguments on her birthday than any other day. My job depended on my working on those days but being married to someone whose job – at the time – wasn’t at all accepting of leaving after just eight hours never went well.
Halloween was always hard but I made it home every year to Trick-or-Treat. I just missed the school parades and neighborhood gatherings. Add the insane parties my wife would plan but ask me to implement for our daughter’s birthday and there wasn’t a box of Calgon big enough to take me away by week’s end.
I bring this up not to paint a horrific picture of my wife, though it may look that way. I say this because these are the things I saw. I’m a guy. Guys see what’s obvious, they don’t analyze the things going on behind the obvious. What we do need is a 2×4 to our heads to make us realize.
For me, that 2×4 came when Andrea passed away. She didn’t want the gifts, the party, hell, even the cake. She wanted me home. She wanted me to put her above all else, that day in particular. Was it fair? I can’t say it was or wasn’t but it’s how she felt and I never addressed it. I should have.
Since she died, I turned Andrea’s birthday into a celebration. I’ve done more things this week than I did before. On October 30th, we had cake and the people I love the most, got gifts from me. I gained a sister in Andrea’s sister and the love of so many in tender ways I cannot recount.
Halloween came and I took the kids out and even dressed up. That’s a big thing . . . I haven’t dressed up for Halloween since I was single. Not once. This year I was Tom Baker, Doctor Who #4, scarf and sonic screwdriver in hand. We went to see friends, Trick-or-Treated and had a blast.
And my daughter . . . she’s in college and having her birthday with friends.
It’s not about the stuff. It’s about thinking ahead and thinking of them. My kids are far more understanding about my job, particularly now, and my job is very understanding of my family.
I just wish I hadn’t needed a 2×4 that big to realize it.
What about you? Are you seeing but not listening? Do you give subtle hints or signs but not just say what you want? Do you make sure you know what’s at stake in those important events?
Dave Manoucheri is a writer, journalist and musician based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.