“Families involved in commercial fishing are familiar with change. In fact, many fishing couples enjoy the changing nature of family life that accompanies the fishing cycle. Husbands enjoy their connections to the sea and a sense of self-sufficiency that comes with fishing. Wives enjoy a sense of accomplishment and independence by running their homes….”
(Adapting to Change–The Ebb and Flow of Fishing Family Life–Oregon Sea Grant)
I went shopping with Eva and Vincent yesterday. In addition to our other groceries, we bought a couple heads of purple cabbage and a few carrots. We got sweet potatoes and some chicken broth. When we arrived home I cleaned the carrots and sweet potatoes, cut them in quarters and put them in the crock pot. Next, I layered several pounds of sockeye salmon from Vis Seafoods. I poured chicken broth over the whole thing and set the crock pot to cook on high for four hours. By 4:30 p.m., the smell of a comforting dinner filled our home and it was time to lift the lid and begin scooping it out.
Does this sound like a wonderful dinner?
It was— but it wasn’t Eva, Vincent, or me who ate it.
Upon scooping the meal out of the pot, I filled our heavy-duty blender and ground it all up, and then poured it into storage containers for Toby. Toby, as you know, is our 4-year old pitbull who has cancer. Special meals like this are part of his treatment plan. At meal time twice a day, I go downstairs and fill his bowl with homemade food. Next, I add a scoop of powder here, a tablet there, a squirt of this, a dash of that. I mix it all up and set it on the ground, petting Toby as he eats. Mandy, our healthy border collie mix, gets a little of the food mixture so she doesn’t feel left out.
I also give the dogs vitamins twice a day and Mandy her thyroid pill.
Next on the list—and I really do keep a list—are Vincent’s daily meds for the terrible virus he caught. Antibiotic twice a day, inhaler four times a day. Flouride at night, vitamin drops in the morning. Eva gets iron and flouride at night, and a vitamin in the morning.
Mom gets…well, you know what I get. When 5:00 pm rolls around (four hours from now, but who’s counting?) I mix my own special meds. Not too much, because since George is in Alaska getting ready to set gear and get some fish on board, I’m on solo duty. I’m on point 24/7 and must keep my wits about me at all times.
When George leaves, I assume all of his duties in addition to my own. To accomplish all of this, I get up at 5:30 in the morning. The little ones and I are pretty well on our way by 8:00 a.m., when the construction crew arrives with five or six of the biggest trucks you’ve ever seen, 75-foot long steel beams, and tractors to work on our house project.
Now, I’m not the sort of mom who simply takes things as they come, one at a time, or stays especially calm. I get stressed out quickly. I depend on George far more than I should for mental and physical support when he is home, because I get anxiety attacks from just looking at a table that needs to be wiped down or a floor that needs to be vacuumed (and then mopped).
I mentioned to my parents last night that I have been in shock over what my days have been like, as well as the fact that I’ve been getting through them reasonably well. In addition to the rest, I finished writing two new stories and submitted them (cross your fingers!) and returned to Jazzercise for the first time since Vincent and I became so ill.
George made it to Alaska on Tuesday, but he still has about four more days of travel until he gets to the first halibut/blackcod fishing grounds. When he called from Sitka, I filled him in on the kids and our week, the way I always do. Only this time, when I finally stopped talking, he said something I rarely hear because George is a man of few words.
“I’m proud of you, hon,” he said.
Thanks. The feeling is mutual.