An Intermarried Thanksgiving

By Michael Kaufman

Thanksgiving at our house will be a little different this year as it comes at a time when my wife and I are facing a critical point in our marriage. After more than 21 years together, we are now forced to deal with one of the burning issues of our time: Can an obsessively compulsive woman and a man with attention deficit disorder live together in peace and harmony?

We have successfully evaded the question all these years because one or both of us has been working fulltime so we were rarely together long enough for the other’s annoying habits to get on our nerves. Now, thanks to a spectacular hiking accident that shattered her ankle in several places on November 7, and a less-than spectacular economy that has rendered me without a fulltime job since February, we are home … alone (except for when the kids come in for a weekend or holiday) … together (except for the dog and cat) … all day long. Our love has never been so greatly tested.

Under orders from a renowned ankle surgeon in Manhattan (so renowned he doesn’t accept insurance) she is unable to put any weight on her right foot. She has only been outside once since her surgery — to attend a performance by our daughter in a school play — and it was a fiasco. She said the wheelchair we rented that day was uncomfortable. After the show I loaded the chair into the car but forgot to load the crutches. Backing out, I ran over the crutches. The ride was bumpy. As we neared home a large deer darted in front of the car and I had to brake hard. The sudden stop nearly sent her crashing into the dashboard and sent painful tremors through her entire leg. She hasn’t been outside since, nor has she used the wheelchair. Remarkably, the crutches sustained only minor damage and remained serviceable.

Stuck at home with nothing to do but sit or lie down with her leg elevated (“Toes above the nose,” was the emphatic mantra from the nurses) she has little to do. She hates TV except for “Jolly Widows,” the Korean soap opera we watch together Monday through Friday nights on WMBC (Channel 20 on Cablevision … you should watch it, it’s great, really) from 9:20 to 10 p.m. And maybe a little Keith Olbermann (sorry Gaydos) and Rachel Maddow.  She reads. And she obsesses.

She says, “Could you put that glass in the sink?” She says, “Can you bring me my reading glasses?” She says, “Can you straighten out that cover on the ottoman?’ She says, “Oh, and when you bring me my reading glasses can you bring the quilt and the water bottle?” She says, “Thanks, but you forgot the quilt.” She says, “Can you bring me my notebook computer, my hair clip, and the quilt you forgot before?” She says, “Can you bring me my pillow?” She says, “That’s not the right pillow. I want the white smooshy one. And can you bring me my Blackberry?” She says, “That isn’t my Blackberry. It’s my cell phone. Can you bring the charger, too?” She says, “That’s the cell phone charger.” And so it goes.

To be honest, we got on each other’s nerves a litte bit at first, but we’ve gotten pretty good at laughing at ourselves. It may be a cliche, but laughter is still the best medicine. The answer to the burning question is yes. 

NOTE: Special thanks from Eva-Lynne and our entire family to the wonderful rescue workers from Greenwood Lake, who carried her safely from the treacherous site of the accident on the Appalachian Trail. And thanks to a hiker named Roger, whose kindness and assistance helped ease her ordeal throughout that long and painful afternoon.

Michael can be reached at


2 Responses to “An Intermarried Thanksgiving”

  1. jkauf Says:

    A glimpse into the not too distant future for me. My wife is scheduled for back surgery and although the names are different, the players are the same in my house. Mike, you provide me with hope when I thought there was none. Great piece (as always)!

  2. kate Says:

    My husband and I entertained the exact same injury 12 years ago. My toes were above my nose, forever. We survived… and then I cleaned the house!

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