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Staying married, in spite of it all

The Jacksons from the November 2, 2017 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator

cartoon image of a family seated at a table

Good morning Dad.” Jennifer Jackson ran her fingers through her tousled hair, as she sat down in the chair across the sunroom from her father. Andrew folded up the section of newspaper he had been reading and let it fall to the floor beside his chair.

“And good morning to you,” he responded. “How did you sleep?”

“I slept well,” said Jennifer, “but somewhat briefly.”

“I didn’t even hear you come in,” said Andrew. “Must have been late.”

“Just after two,” said Jennifer, yawning. “Mom woke up and came and said hi before I went to bed.”

“She’s not a heavy sleeper, your mom,” said Andrew. “She wakes up sometimes from the sound of snow falling, I think.”

“I tripped over your boots in the entryway when I came in,” said Jennifer. “And I’m a lot louder than snow when I fall.”

“Thank you for not waking me up, anyway,” said Andrew. “You want some breakfast?”

“Not really hungry,” said Jennifer. “Is there coffee?”

“A fresh pot in the kitchen,” said Andrew. “Help yourself.”

Jennifer got up and headed down the hallway. When she returned a few minutes later carrying a steaming mug of black coffee, Andrew had picked up another section of the newspaper which he again folded up and put down.

“What’s new in the paper?” Jennifer wanted to know.

“The Jets lost in overtime two nights in a row,” said Andrew.

“Well I guess that’s better than losing not in overtime two nights in a row,” said Jennifer.

“Can’t argue that,” said Andrew. He paused to take a sip of his own coffee which had been perched somewhat precariously on the arm of his chair. “So tell me again, what is your plan for the day?”

“I’m going to the community centre to help Kendra decorate for her mom and dad’s 25th wedding anniversary,” said Jennifer. She looked at her father. “You haven’t forgotten about that have you? I mean Grant is your best friend after all.”

“Of course I haven’t forgotten,” said Andrew. “When I say plan for the day I mean when are you heading over there and will you be back here later and all that sort of thing. You know, so I can plan my afternoon nap and whatnot.”

“I’ll probably leave in an hour and be back to change before the party around suppertime,” said Jennifer. “I will try not to interfere with your nap.”

“Good,” said Andrew. “Much appreciated.”

There was a moment of silence. “Twenty-five years,” said Jennifer. “That’s longer than I’ve been alive. It seems like a long time.”

“Not to me it doesn’t,” said Andrew.

“What’s the secret to staying married for 25 years?” asked Jennifer. “How do people even do that?”

“I don’t know,” said Andrew. “Mostly out of spite I think.”

“Really?” said Jennifer. “Spite for whom?”

“For whomever,” said Andrew. “Every couple, when they get married, have that one person. Maybe it’s Grandma or Uncle Joe or that cousin everybody hates. Whoever it is, that person takes it upon themselves to let the couple know that in his or her opinion, this match is one that should never be made, that the couple should not be together and that they will be lucky if their marriage lasts a week. And when that person walks away the couple looks at each other and knows that no matter how much they learn to detest each other they will never ever get a divorce, because they will never give that horrible person the satisfaction of saying, ‘see, I was right!’”

“Interesting,” said Jennifer. “But now I’m curious. Who told you and Mom that you shouldn’t be together?”

“Your mom’s Uncle Joe,” said Andrew. “What a jerk.”

“I didn’t even know Mom had an Uncle Joe,” said Jennifer.

“Now you know why,” said Andrew.

Jennifer was silent for a moment. “I wonder who’ll do that for me?” she said. “Tell me I’m making a huge mistake when it’s too late for me to change it. Everybody I know is way too nice to do that.”

“Someone will surprise you,” said Andrew. “Someone always does. Heck if no one else does, I’ll do it myself.”

“You would do that for me?” said Jennifer, laughing.

“Of course I would,” said Andrew. “I’d do anything for you.” He paused. “By the way, that boyfriend of yours, what’s-his-name? Bit of a loser, don’t you think?”

“Dad,” said Jennifer. “I’m not marrying him any time soon.”

“Oh good,” said Andrew. “Because I actually really like him.”

“So do I,” said Jennifer.

“I’d hate him though, for your sake,” said Andrew. “If I had too.”

“That’s sweet of you,” said Jennifer. “It’s good to know I can count on you.”

“Always,” said Andrew. “Always, and forever.”

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