Beautiful Ride

The somewhat self-indulgent rantings about the beautiful ride that is my life!

To Have and To Hold April 29, 2012

Filed under: beautiful ride,Family,Home — beautifulride @ 9:11 pm
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Once upon a time, a quarter of a century ago, I ran into a handsome young man in a local parking lot. Circumstances being what they were, we struck up a conversation that seemed oddly comfortable right from the start, like being near each other was something that had always been.

A year later, the handsome young man asked me to be his wife. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life, but oddly enough, it didn’t come as a surprise. Because just like being near him seemed like a comfort and a joy that I had always known, marrying him seemed like a given…a foregone conclusion…the only possible end to the story that started one year before.  Don’t get me wrong here. This is not to say that I took the handsome young man’s proposal for granted. I did not. Even at the tender age of 22, I knew that life was always waiting to throw you a curve ball, to keep you unbalanced in some way so that you might never get too comfortable, never get off your game. But way, way down, in the deepest recesses of my heart I knew. I knew that he was the one for me. The sun, the moon, the stars, and all of the beautiful fairy tales combined. I have always been a believer of “when you know, you know….when it’s right, it’s right.” Not once, not even for a moment, did I have to think about my answer. Not once, not even for a moment, did I have to stop and wonder if I was too young or too secure or financially ready to get married. Not once, not even for a moment, did I have to think about whether or not I was ready to spend the rest of my life with one man…with this man.

Another year later, the handsome young man stood at the front of a beautiful church. He stood there waiting…waiting for me. Waiting for me to walk down the aisle and stand beside him. Waiting for me to join him…to be one with him….to have and to hold from that moment on, always walking together, moving forward together, living our future together.

Has it been hard sometimes? Of course it has. Has it been frustrating sometimes? Of course it has. What I have learned in the past 23 years is that marriage is work. But so is anything worth having, worth nurturing, worth holding on to. I’ve learned that it always requires a 100 percent effort…it’s just that sometimes one has to be willing to give 95 percent and only take 5, and then before you know it you are getting 95 percent when you only have a little to offer back. It is working together, loving together, facing the hard and the ugly and the mundane together. And if the commitment to moving forward together is there, then the rest falls into place and the rewards are so sweet.

Twenty-three years later, the handsome young man is still the sun, the moon, the stars and all of the beautiful fairy tales combined. He may not be as young as he was then, but then neither am I. But he is surely as handsome, maybe more. And he is smart and funny and kind and a great dad. And he has blessed me with four more handsome young men. And I see him in them.  And that makes me so, so happy. And when I look into his face,  I can see worry lines from the times that were tough and smile lines that are the sweet reminders of all the times that we laughed. I look into his eyes and I see my handsome young man, the one who has grown with me and learned with me and loved with me. I fall into his arms and I am home. All of these years later…with my handsome young man.

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A Lifetime in a Look March 16, 2011

Filed under: beautiful ride,Faith,Family,Home — beautifulride @ 11:33 pm
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Just about now, my parents are saying goodnight to each other, just like they have done every night for the last 48 years. Today is their anniversary, and a very special one, as far as I’m concerned. This has been a tough year for them…not that they haven’t survived tough times before, but this one…well, it stopped them in their tracks.

My father suffered a life-threatening illness this year. Diagnosed with liver cancer 8 years after fighting his way through stage 4 esophogeal cancer, Dad made the decision to fight again and go ahead with the surgery to burn off as much of the mass as possible. The surgery happened the day before New Year’s Eve, and all seemed to go well. It looked like we would ring in the New Year with great news, and Dad was on his way to recovery. But 48 hours later, he was back in the ICU, unable to breathe on his own. He had developed aspiration pneumonia.

For what seemed like an eternity, we sat vigil by his bedside. My brother, my sisters, my mother.  We waited. We watched. And while we watched, they taught. In the midst of all of this illness and ugliness, my parents taught me a lesson…a beautiful lesson about love.

It happened every morning, when Mom would wake up in a strange bed in an unfamiliar town and go sit beside him. She never complained, she never dreamed of going home without him, she never let him see her cry–she wanted him to draw strength from her strength. It happened one day, after a very long morning, when she cried out that she wished she could trade places with him. It happened one night, after a very long day when Dad was just awake enough to be agitated, and scared. He was on a respirator, so he could not speak, but he did. He spoke to her, to my Mom, with his eyes and with his touch. They held hands and he looked into her eyes, searching for answers and comfort. And she looked directly back and said “I know what you are asking me, and I know we talked about this, but you are getting better and we aren’t giving up.” And it was enough for him. His eyes said, “I love you and I believe you,” and you could just see him relax and drift off to sleep. It was at that moment that I was reminded that these two people were not just my parents. These were two people that found each other and fell in love with each other long before I came into the picture. These were two people that stood beside each other through good and bad, in sickness and  in health–raising four children, losing their own parents, surviving everyday challenges of finances and jobs, praising God, celebrating  grandchildren. These were two people that had shared a lifetime…and I saw it in one look.

My father has recovered. And after 6 weeks away from home, they both returned…together. Mom promised that she wouldn’t go home until he went home. She kept her word. She stayed in a hotel, in the Hope House, at my sister’s place…but she would not travel the two hours to go home until he was ready to go with her. And he would have done the same.

And today, my parents said “Happy Anniversary” for the 48th time. Maybe they said it with a look, maybe with a touch, but they said it together. One more moment together.  48 years, 576 months, 2496 weeks, 17,520 days…25,228,800 moments. A lifetime. A beautiful, wonderful lifetime.