Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Didn't Write This...

but it's really good. I found it a bunch of years ago in some magazine and saved it. Hope you enjoy.

What do you call someone who not only disregards the flashing lights of a cop on her tail, but thrusts her arm out the window and flips him off?
A. a hardened criminal
B. a drunk driver
C. a crazy person
D. a cop's wife

Last week my husband and I attended a retirement send-off for one of his buddies' you know, one of those tedious, yet engaging, serious, yet goofy dinner roasts that lends itself to the recounting of the retiree's war stories. As a few of us couples sat around shooting the breeze at the end of the night, one of the wives recounted a war story of her own. Driving home from work one day, Cindy noticed in her rearview mirror that a motor officer was following her. Thinking it was her motor cop husband, she shrugged it off, though she wondered what he wanted. Before too long the officer turned on his strobes and signaled her to pull over. At first she was a little miffed, but not one to pass up a chance to have a little fun with her husband, and noticing few cars were on the road, she thrust her arm out the window and gave him the one-fingered salute. Even as the officer passed her she still believed it was her husband, since the uniform PD shirt, knee-high motor boots, helmet and sunglasses made the guy look just like him. Finally she stopped at a stoplight, but not until the cop approached her car and she saw him face to face did she realize her miscalculation. Of course the back pedaling began as the embarrassed cop's wife fumbled sheepishly and explained her mistaken assumption to the officer.

We all had a good laugh over our feisty friend's story. And, even though the rest of us winced at the thought of what she did like most people, cop husband or not, we still get rattled when we see those overheads in our rearview mirror. It's this very kind of gutsiness that makes the typical cop's wife different.

So, what is it like to be married to a police officer? Is it all high drama, with your days spent hero worshipping after his "shoot em up and book em Danno" shift? Do you find delight in sewing on his new arm patches, polishing his gun belt and knitting him badge-shaped slippers? I think not. But being married to a cop does color life in unique ways.

Strength and Solid Identity
Though it's true that any of us could lose our lives at any moment, not everyone who sends her husband out the door wonders if tonight's goodbye kiss and "be careful out there, hon" will be the last exchange they'll share.

For the cop's wife, it's these everyday realities that build strength of character and establish a firm identity. Someone summed it up well by saying that in a law enforcement marriage, there is no room for someone who is emotional, clingy or needy. Because a cop's wife's role often requires her to be self-sufficient, she needs to be sure of who she is. Of course her identity isn't derived solely from who she is to her husband. She has her own career, too, as a teacher, health care professional, administrative assistant, finance officer, full-time mom, or cop or other criminal justice professional herself, but never as a defense attorney.

A Call to Duty
Whether she works outside the home or in, the demands are many and the rewards are few, especially in the early years. Her husband helps out as much as he can, but her own "call to duty" requires that she juggle everything from household tasks, while keeping the kids quiet so Daddy can sleep, to playing chauffeur to those junior athletes and pediatrician's patients. Assuming responsibility where her husband cannot, she is the family's consummate chief cook and bottle washer.

Her children grow up learning that Christmas is not December 25th, but instead the day their dad is off duty to celebrate with the family. She's never been with him on New Year's Eve - a yearly marker that to her, is symbolized by the presence of riot gear, more training and an extra measure of worry and solitude.

A cop's wife learns to accept irony as part of her existence. Every time she makes a special dinner, in hopes that her husband will be able to steal a half-hour at home, he ends up working a double-fatal pileup or getting a drug bust. Yet the evenings she's sure the same thing will happen, she makes grilled cheese sandwiches and opens a can of soup for the kids only to have him come through the door beaming, "Hey babe", and lamenting, "It's deader than a doornail out there." Shift work can make her and her husband mere ships in the night, often not having days off together for years at a time. The time they are able to snatch together is often a voyage of calm, storm, calm, storm and more storm as they navigate through the relational stresses inherent in law enforcement marriages.

His "Pillar of Strength"
Over time, she becomes the crucial voice of awareness and balance for her husband. A passage in Vali Stone's Cops Don't Cry recounts a wife's story about how her husband was affected by a disturbing case involving the brutal abuse and murder of a baby. The parents, arrested for the homicide, were completely unremorseful. The officer, consumed by the case, visited the baby every day until she finally succumbed to her injuries. It took a couple of months before this officer's wife noticed changes in her husband: "He watched television all the time, didn't want to go anywhere, developed black stains under his eyes from lack of sleep, and he wouldn't talk much." Finally noticing bruises on his arms, she panicked. At first he was reluctant to tell her what had caused them, but he finally admitted to self-mutilating, a response to his emotional pain over the case. It was this officer's wife's concern that caused him to finally seek help.

Awareness of the "Dirty Side of Life"
My friend, Jan, says that before she was married she would probably have let in anyone who came to her door and put on the coffee to boot. Now she's more aware of her surroundings, more skeptical and more shrewd in her business dealings. Her views on hot-button issues like homelessness are perhaps less sympathetic than most people's because of her husband's inside view. Early in her marriage she might have blurted out to anyone that her husband is a cop, but no more. After years of doing the "restaurant seating dance" at eateries, she knows to defer to his need to sit where he can have the best possible vantage point. And, if somebody stares at her husband in public, she wonders if it's someone he's arrested, and she keeps an eye out for trouble.

Cop Humor
Isn't it ironic that those who usually have the most cause to cry are the ones who are expected not to? Cops, soldiers and health care professionals, for example. One coping mechanism cops use is humor. It's raw, dark and seemingly insensitive, but it can be a necessary tool in dealing with the tragic, corrupt and macabre aspects of police work.

I'll never forget a little exchange my husband told me about years ago: Gathering evidence and taking photos at the scene of a fatal accident, one officer, tweezers in hand, picked up a small chunk of brain tissue that had landed quite a distance from the crash. A second officer hollered to him, "Whatcha got?"
"Piece o' brain," the first answered. Then, without missing a beat, the second one weighed in with mock wistfulness, "Yeah, a mind is a terrible thing to waste."

A cop's wife picks up this sick humor, too. I'll never forget what "Kristen" said at her husband's 30th birthday party. Complaining that his pay and benefits were not commensurate with the danger and sacrifices of The Job, she threatened that if he ever had the nerve to die on her and leave her to raise their kids alone, he'd better do it on duty so that she could at least collect the meager life insurance payout. And, if perchance he were to die off duty, she had full intentions of stuffing the 6'4" 250-lb. lug into his uniform and dragging and hoisting the deadweight into the patrol car, which was always parked uphill on their street. Sick and callous as it sounds, it was her way of dealing with her frustration over the insulting pay and the possibility of losing him. It was also right in line with the type of dark humor she'd learned from her husband.

Not All Grit and Grind
Being married to a cop does have its advantages. After all, not everyone gets to have her driving critiqued by someone who's an expert in EVOC and traffic law. Knowing the inside scoop about high-profile cases is another benefit; you get a more informed perspective than the watered-down, politically correct version found in the newspaper. And, it's kind of amusing to hear about the local windbag politician who was stopped last week at 3 a.m. with two blonde tootsies in his car.

"Kim", another cop wife friend, pointed out that it's kind of nice to have her own police officer in the house, though he did nearly shoot their teenage son, whom he almost mistook for a burglar, when the kid was trying to sneak in late one night.

For me, the early years were the most challenging, and now that my kids are older, life isn't nearly as demanding. I'm glad we've made it this far and I believe more strongly than ever in the work my husband does serving our community. Another wife quoted in Cops Don't Cry says, "If I had to do it again, I wouldn't change a thing. I couldn't possibly live without the excitement and insanity of a police life. Anything else would pale in comparison."

So, with all of this in mind and more, it stands to reason that the correct answer to the multiple choice riddle at the top of the article is both C and D.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I am feeling really good. I'm still sore from the ET tube and my strap muscles in the sides of my neck are a little rough but otherwise I can't complain. I've had a bit of a cough but nothing too bad.

I was telling my bro tonight that he must have been right all these years. I suppose I do have ice water running through my veins. The doc said when they cut into my neck, I didn't bleed. They were amazed considering they had to do a 'deep neck dissection' and go really far to the left side of my neck. Of course he could not stop laughing.

So.. I ate an entire McRib sandwich, half a rotisserie chicken and half a container of mashed potatoes. I followed that up with a large chocolate shake. Man life is good!! I can't believe how much better things are already. This damn thing has been sucking the life out of me for two years and I am just so so thankful the little alien thing is out of me now. I can breathe and I can swallow which means I can EAT!

It's been great chillin with the hubs just watching movies and vegging out. Feels like we're in college again :) I'm sure he's loving the fact that I still have no voice!

Now I'm just waiting for pathology to do up the report so I can see if there was anything sinister. Not likely but I just want to breathe that sigh of relief. It'll be ready in another 2-3 days.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Still Alive

Hello out there. I made it through my surgery yesterday just fine. They kept me overnight and I got home today. Meadowlark, you were so right about the anesthesia! My anesthesiologist was a retired Navy Captain and was amazing! The sweetest, gentlest man ever. I kept my mouth shut and acted like I was some kind of professional but he knew I was shaking in my boots.

They did all the preop fun like making me get naked underneath a piece of paper and then wheeled me back to the O.R. I remember the one doc telling me they were gonna put squeezy boots on me and then as they asked me to slide from the bed to the operating table, the sneaky anesthesiologist plunged the propofol! I was out as my head hit the table. Never even saw it coming it was fantastic! I woke up asking the nurse, "Did I just wake up?". She busted out in a chuckle and said, "yep". It was great. I let out a big cough which was kind of gross but then they gave me a 2 of morphine and started wheeling me for what seemed like miles through the hospital to my room. Never got sick. Never had any bad feelings. Just got good at laughing at myself repeating the same things over and over and saying, "I feel like I just told you this..".

The only thing I have taken since that initial morphine is straight liquid tylenol. I'm feeling really lucky about how everything went. It's kind of like a nasty case of strep throat. I ate angel food cake and ice cream yesterday. And a bunch of other junk, too.

I'm glad to be back at home and to see my little boys. The hubs was such a huge help taking care of me and is getting used to me not really having a voice. It comes and goes.

I'm looking forward to doing a bunch of nothing for the next 2-3 weeks. I needed the break from work anyway :)