A Valentine to My Right Arm

michael-2007.jpg   A month ago today I had surgery for a significant tear in my right rotator cuff.  Since then, I’ve been trying to negotiate life in a sling attached to my body.  I can knit ~ up to a point, then it starts hurting like all getout.  I can work the computer, but some days I have to hand over the mouse to my left hand and let it do the work.   I can’t sleep at night for the pain, and I don’t know when it will end. 

I bring this up because today is That Day.  That Day when you’re supposed to shower the one you love with kisses and bouquets and candy and special tokens.  This is best I can do today, but my heart overflows with how much I mean what I have to say about my dear husband, Michael.

We met 20 years ago this coming St. Patrick’s Day, and three weeks later we were married, first marriage for me, second for him.  Everyone said it wouldn’t last, but once we got going I knew it would.  We’ve been through a lot over the past 20 years ~ open heart surgery and five bypasses for Michael, the frustration of infertility and the joy of adopting our baby from China, a knee replacement for me, a big move from his family home in the historic district to the little bungalow of my dreams in Ardsley Park. 

Through all this we’ve not always loved each other with that unflinching eye that sees no wrong and adores every pore and cell of the other partner.  Sometimes, as a matter of fact, I’m sure both of us have wished the other would just take a l-o-n-g vacation. All married couples go through this, I suppose.

But as we approach our 20th anniversary, I had begun to think there was never to be any more romance for us ~ that we would just plod together, side-by-side, wrestling for the remote and trying to dodge the inevitable insults of our teenage daughter, until she was grown and gone and we could sit and look at each other and wonder where it all went.

This month has made me fall in love all over again with the guy I was lucky enough to grab onto upon one day when I was at the end of my rope.  I can’t possibly count the wonderful ways he has cared for me this month, cooking our meals, buying our food, cleaning the house, chauffering me and April, feeding and bathing the dogs, opening and closing doors for me, washing my hair, fastening my bra in back, picking up prescriptions, bringing me surprises to try and appeal to my lackluster appetite.

When my husband’s parents were old, his mother had emphysema and was confined to their house down at Tybee beach.  Michael’s father, it seemed, lived for nothing but to take care of his wife. Even though his own dementia was encroaching, he managed to keep it together as long as his wife was alive.  My mother-in-law used to say she had married “the most wonderful man in the world,” and my husband thought she was joking.  I know she wasn’t.

I just found this picture of my husband taken a couple of years ago in a restaurant on Easter Sunday.  He hadn’t been able to find his regular glasses, so he wore these huge plastic things that I hated.  I’m sure when I took the picture I said it would have been a good one if he hadn’t worn those stupid glasses.  Well, I think it’s a great one anyway, because it perfectly captures the sweetness, humor and generosity of the man who has put up with me for almost 20 years.  And 20 more, I hope.

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