Ann and I recently celebrated two major milestones – 25 years of marriage and a newly emptied nest – by taking a week on the Greek island of Kos. It was so awesome that I think we’re going to start taking silver anniversary trips every year. You can view a few pix here.
It costs time and money to celebrate well. Each day we did something special that reminded us of fun activities we’ve pursued at different times in our lifelong friendship. We rented mountain bikes, sailed a catamaran in the Aegean Sea, strolled on the beach, hiked in the hills and ate lots of great Greek food. Near the end of our week we took in the island’s breathtaking views by moped.
A nearly perfect day concluded with a small blip. While climbing up a fairly steep hill, the switchback was too slick and I laid the bike down on our turn. Bam! I vaguely remember apologizing to Ann on the way down: “I’m sorryyyy…” Though we weren’t moving fast we landed hard. Picture 450 pounds of bodies and bike simply falling over in your driveway – you get the idea. Ann bunged up her knee. I absorbed most of the impact with my right shoulder and a split second later felt two dull ‘pops’ in my chest. Thankfully I walked away with only bruised – and extremely tender – ribs. The doctor said they would be sore for 2-3 months.
“I Need Help”
Those three words are some of the most difficult for independent, healthy, self-sufficient people to say. Yet, they have come out of my mouth more in the past week than probably in the past six months. Bruised ribs hurt. They hurt when I stand, walk, turn, lie down, sit up, sleep, eat. Shoot, they hurt when I breathe.
So, it’s easy for you to picture us traveling through five airports on the way home. I have to ask for help. Ann has her knee bandaged up and limps through the airport, hoisting our luggage onto the check-in scales. I, the ever chivalrous husband, deftly handle the tickets and passports. When we board, Ann takes off my backpack and puts it in the overhead bin because I can’t lift my arm that high. I am hyper-aware of people looking at us, probably thinking: What a jerk. Dude, help your wife. All I want is a t-shirt that reads “I have severe internal injuries – you just can’t see them.”
Of course this doesn’t end with our trip. Yesterday I went to Lowe’s to buy two 40-pound bags of salt for our water system. Dani, a very friendly young cashier, takes my credit card. I find myself saying those three words again to her: “I need help. Can you call someone over to help me get these bags into my car?”
“Don’t worry,” says Dani. “Just back your car up and I’ll get them for you.”
Lesson: True humility flows from a sense that I need others. People can’t read my mind and often can’t see where I hurt. I need to verbalize my need and ask for help.