Had the flu this week. Had to work anyway. (That's what happens when you work for yourself.) However, in between task, I did my best to get in bed and rest. Boo was wonderful. She made sure I ate, had my fluids and then did some of the work that I usually do. Actually, I was thanking God for Boo, a few minutes ago, when her kindness reminded me of a friend's situation and how he would be a great example for this week's Love Doctor column.
I know, you single guys think you have it made and many of you are avoiding family life like the plague. At a wedding, recently, the groom couldn't get any of the single men to line up to catch the garter (you know, like the ladies catch the bouquet). It was disgusting. It seems that many of you are unaware of the fact that you are in the cycle of life and one day your situation will change. You have go from "needing and taking" as a child to what should be "providing for needs" in prime of your adulthood to "needing" again, eventually, in old age.
(Ever wonder why you see more old men sleeping on the street than old women. (Hmmm...) I always wonder how many have no children, or children for whom they've done little.)
There's an old song that goes, "You don't miss your water, 'till the well runs dry.", but I have a dear friend whose situation has made me turn those words around to reflect a positive rather than negative situation. One day someone should write a happy song that goes, "When your mouth is dry and you need a sip, if you built a well all you do is dip." Such was the case for my friend.
This week's column is intended to congratulate those men readers who have managed to keep things together in their families, and to warn those who, so far, have found themselves unable to submerge themselves in the responsibilities of family life. Come on, don't stop reading now! The column may open your eyes to benefits of the family lifestyle of which you were unaware.
Unfortunately, in our society, the value of the family lifestyle seems to have been thrown out in the sixties with the Vietnam war. We've gotten into this "do your own thing" attitude, in which some folks actually believe that they can face the world alone. Its easy to understand since television and movies have portrayed the family as a stone around one's neck. After all, people without families don't have to buy food and clothes for kids or provide housing, medical care and education. No one spills ice cream on the seat of their BMWs (or Hundais) and they never have to go to a parent teacher meeting.
The problem is aggravated by the fact that people in the family forming years of their lives often have a mistaken sense of invulnerability, a feeling that they will always be able to do everything that they do now. That's understandable for they have no personal evidence to the contrary... everything still works. During this period of our lives we have very few needs that we cannot fulfil ourselves (or with another consenting adult).
Lets get back to my friend. Here he is... mid forties, well educated, in great physical condition, good job, and reasonably good looking (OK, what do you want me to say, the dude is my friend.) What makes his story relevant is the fact that he was a "well builder", one who accepted the responsibilities of a family. He wasn't one of those "lone rangers", men unattached or only loosely attached to a family. Friend is a Family Man (note the capital letters).
Friend had no way of knowing that in the peak of his years he was about to find himself vulnerable and in a position of temporary "Need" long before the anticipated arrival of old age.
After a nearly fatal auto accident on the night he and his wife celebrated their anniversary, Friend found himself temporarily disabled. Unable to do almost anything for himself, he needed help to do everything. If ever a man found himself suddenly thirsting for human kindness and support, Friend was that man. Fate had thrown him a curve which had turned his life upside down. He would have to go to his well, his family, and depend on what ever he found there. What he found was a well overflowing with the quenching coolness that springs from the Oasis of a family that loved and respected its husband and father. (Boy isn't that poetic)
As we acknowledge the goodness of Friend's support team (which includes his mother in law despite the television stereotypes), let's consider how different things might have been if Friend had not been a solid Family Man. What if Friend had chosen not to have a family at all? What if he had deserted the wife and kids to enjoy the pleasures of the "free life"? Somehow, under different circumstances, I don't really believe that I would be able to have pleasant visits with a guy gaining weight from the home cooking prepared by his mother in law, joking his way past the pains caused by the pins in his leg, feeling warm and secure in the knowledge that whenever he is thirsty he can get a drink. It's nice to have a full well.
Other things come from that well, the pride in children who seek to live up to your expectations, the warmth of father's day breakfast in bed, the getting older and having someone who doesn't see your age. A good well fills up with memories of wide eyes seeing things never seen before on the vacations made possible only by well builders. It's pleasant work building a good solid and deep well and you'll never know when you might need a drink.