Anniversaries and anaphylactic shock

Nobody has ever measured, even poets, how much a heart can hold.

~Zelda Fitzgerald


(woodland wildflower / Troup Co. Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

I don’t know what you were doing August 13, 1983 but I was getting married.

And yes that does indeed mean that yesterday was my anniversary.

31 years.

So imagine my surprise and excitement when my husband called Tuesday evening to tell me he was going to be running about an hour late coming home for the day as he needed to finish up a few things at the store before heading home. Asking if someone had come in late, his reply was no, he was actually wanting to finish up a job which was to be picked up the following day- – – because, wait for it, he was hoping to take the day off.

Oooo, taking off tomorrow. . .Ooooo. . . as in tomorrow, our anniversary!


But wait. . .

That’s odd.

In 31 years, he’s never taken off on our anniversary.

Hummm, what’s up I wonder.

We had actually already gone out Saturday evening to celebrate the mark of our special day. He had business in Atlanta and as our son and daughter-n-law were with us, we decided to take them along with us out to eat—what could he possibly have up his sleeve on a Wednesday, as in the middle of the week?

You may recall that my husband runs his own business. He works 6 days a week 12 to 14 hour days and never, never, ever takes off.


And then it dawns on me.

I had accompanied him this past Sunday down to his deer land–helping him clear the roads as he bush hogged the property. We hadn’t finished the work and the tractor was still there. I bet money he’s wanting to go finish up in order to bring the tractor home.

So much for thoughtful romance. . .

And sure enough, I was right. . .

I meet him at the kitchen door.

“So, you’re wanting to take off tomorrow?”


“Do you know what tomorrow is?”

“Of course I do”

“What is it?”

“Well. . .it’s our anniversary”

“And you’re wanting to take off in order to do something for that?”

“Uh, er, uh. . .”

“As in bushog?!”

“Well I was thinking about it. . .you and I”

Bush hog.

The perfect romantic way to spend a loud, hot, dusty grueling day.

Fast forward to Wednesday morning.

After not sleeping most of the night—remember, 54 year old women have no hormones and never sleep, and oddly after having the alarm clock going off randomly twice at midnight (who hit the freaking button by accident?!) and then having battled for just a shred of the covers throughout the entire night, as I sleep with a cover hog, I was finally, happily and thankfully buried deep within the covers as my husband had gotten up just before daylight, heading to the shower, leaving me finally some semblance of sheets and peace.

Suddenly the sheets are jerked off of my head as a shaving cream clad face peers into my “nest”—“HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!”

ughhhhh—as I pull the covers back over my head.

“Time to get up and get going while it’s still cool in order to work” he cheerfully chirps.


A cup of coffee and no shower later, we’re heading out in the early morning light for the hour’s drive south.

Once we reach our destination and unload a truck full of chain saws, limb cutters and saws, as well as unloading the Four wheeler from the trailer, my farmer alter ego husband hops on the tractor as I am instructed to follow behind at a safe distance–just so no rocks come flying out from under the bush hog aiming for my eyes or head. We slowly begin to make our way up the bumpy dirt road to the overgrowth he wishes to clear away.

Anniversary romance at its best—yep.

As the tractor rumbles up the dirt road, creating an ever growing red dirt dust cloud, I happily follow at a safe distance. As the always prepared girl scout, I’ve got my camera slung across my shoulder as I serenely rattle along taking in the cattails swaying in the gentle morning breeze. . .


(said husband on said tractor with said trailing dust cloud)

. . . out of the corner of my left eye, I catch something small darting right for me when simultaneously I suddenly feel a searing pain penetrating my left shoulder.

“Damn biting fly” I grouse reaching back to shoo the blasted thing away when BAM, the same searing pain on my index finger with immediately multiple paralyzing stabbing ice pick pains to my left ear.

“AAAGGGHHHHHHH” I scream as I begin waving and batting frantically at my head.

Remember I’m driving a Four wheeler up a rough dirt road. . hands off the handles means I start rolling backwards.

Somehow I get the four wheeler stopped in the middle of the road as both arms are now flailing wildly in the air around my head.

All the while as my clueless tractor loving husband rambles further away up the dirt road.

Immediately I know my peril.

He ran over a yellow jacket’s nest!!!

And I’m being attacked!!!!!!


(yellow jacket image taken from the web)

I am now fully engulfed in searing pain as a frantic panic sets in, as the hyper speed dive bombers are unleashing their full fury on little ol me.

Run or ride, fight or flight?!

How I don’t recall, but I manage to drive the Four wheeler far enough up the road escaping the maddening assault of angry yellow jackets.

Sunglasses, where are my sunglasses??!! Ugh. . .

Yellow jackets this time of year, are terribly aggressive. They, like wasps, are able to sting over and over again unlike bees who lose their stingers after one attack.

I stop at the top of the hill wailing and thrashing in pain.


Like a wounded dog, howling in woeful agony, I feel as if an ice pick is repeatedly jamming in my ear penetrating into my brain. My finger is now twice its size and my ear, well–if i’m lucky, maybe it’ll fall off.

6, 7, 8 stings.



(it may not look it, but it is in mid swell, soon to give new meaning to blown up like a balloon)

Farmer Cook is now finally heading back down the opposite side of the road when he spies me draped over the Four wheeler crying and weakly holding my head. He panics thinking he’s slung a rock and I’ve been beamed in the head.

Oh that I should be so lucky.


“Yellow jackets. . .”


“What” he irritatingly quips as he can’t hear over the roar of the tractor’s engine.


Mr. Concerned:”do you think you’re allergic?”


Tears streaming down my cheeks, I agonizingly shoot back “I’d be dead by now if that was the case!!”

“Maybe we need to go buy some cigarettes.”


“They say wet tobacco smeared on the stings helps”

You should know that we are miles back in the middle of the woods, far far away from any store, hospital or thankfully, cigarettes.

I suppose it would only be fair that I should tell you that he is taking me to the beach in September for a long weekend as a real anniversary gift, but on this particular afternoon, with a double sized throbbing finger, missing prescription sunglasses, and an ear now the size of a grapefruit with an ice pick constantly boring into my brain, I’m seriously rethinking what I did 31 years ago on August 13, 1983.

17 comments on “Anniversaries and anaphylactic shock

  1. LOL! You are definitely a trooper. My wife was stung in the leg by a yellow jacket last week when she was gardening. It was very painful and her swelling is only now subsiding.

    Hope the rest of your week goes better!

    W. Ockham

  2. FYI, smearing Preparation H all over the sting–helps to curtail the swelling πŸ™‚

  3. I hope you are better this morning Julie??

  4. lljostes says:

    Ohhhh, I feel your pain…When I got married August 12, 1979 and joyfully anticipated our first anniversary with flowers and a special dinner, I stood in classroom for the High School Open House next to my teacher/counselor husband wondering “what the hay?” My still newly wed heart stung from the absence of an anniversary glow. Now 35 years later the “sting” is forgotten and in its stead is a gratefulness for the gift of a godly husband who’s loved me all these years! Happy Anniversary and blessings for many more…happy years, not stings! ~ Laura

    • oh Laura—you are the trooper–after spending 31 years in my own high school classroom enduring open house year after year, I commend you for not running from the room with the word annulment pouring from your lips πŸ™‚
      And it is indeed a testament to the years that I am quite content to follow along on a day of removing brush as just being together is what is really truly important—and it takes the sage of age to finally, thankfully, understand that!
      Blessing and hugs your way!

  5. ptero9 says:

    Oh Julie! Happy Anniversary anyway! I hope you’re feeling better. If you’re using the marital point system, hubby pretty much depleted any savings he had, lol.

    • point system eh? No, hadn’t occurred to me—perhaps not until now πŸ˜‰ and the funny thing you should know Debra… shortly after yesterday’s attack–while I’m still writhing with pain–my phone alerts me to my emails, with your response to the day’s post being foremost. There I am draped over the 4 wheeler responding via my phone when my husband asks what in the world I’m doing. I tell him that my blog friend out in Oregon has just written a very thoughtful response to my post and I needed to reply before I left this world due to the anaphylactic shock—of which, thankfully, was non existent—so if I was sounding a bit incoherent, you now know why πŸ™‚

      • ptero9 says:

        Lol Julie, what a way to go! I am honored, but truly grateful it didn’t end that way.

        You really make me laugh, in a good way you know.

  6. Melissa McCain says:

    Sorry that you were stung, but the way you told the story was hilarious! Happy Anniversary!

  7. Lynda says:

    So sorry to hear of your painful anniversary! I hope you are feeling better today and that hubby is feeling at least a bit remorseful. Prayers for 31 more happy years together. πŸ™‚

  8. First of all, bless your heart. I am soooooooooo sorry this happened to you and that you are in so much pain!!! Secondly 4 days later and 20 years earlier James and I were getting married on August 17, l963 and so we are coming up on 51 years this Sunday. And finally I’m still laughing about your last line. There’s been a time or two when I rethought what I did on our date in 1963. Your hubby should certainly take you for as long as you want to the beach in September and let you buy anything you want while there. Maybe then it will be a happy anniversary for you. In the meantime I pray your wounds heal quickly and that the pain is gone even sooner. Love and hugs and blessings, Natalie πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Natalie—I have survived—luckily–and since that is such, Gregory luckily did as well πŸ˜‰
      And even more wonder to the overlapping of lives–so Happy Anniversary to you as well!!
      I was 23 when we married and Gregory was 33–a confirmed bachelor—not so much by proclamation but more so by life—as in he worked 24/7 and when he wasn’t doing that, he was hunting and fishing—of which he still enjoys, however, perhaps, with not the same level gusto as he once did πŸ™‚
      Despite bees and the romance of a tractor, I must say he’s doing so much better than when we first started out, so I think we shall keep him πŸ™‚
      Hugs to you–and James—

      • And another overlapping of our lives is that we both married older men. James is 7 years older than I am. I sure hope your stings are better today. Love, N πŸ™‚

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