Yesterday day was Auntie M and Doc’s wedding anniversary–18 years official + 5 living together = 23 years we’ve been merging our lives.
We’re having a low fence built around our hot tub to keep dogs and Grands out, so that is our gift. But I did have a card for him. Being bedridden didn’t allow for shopping, so I wasn’t expecting one from him.
Doc has been battling a bad GI bug; no stamina and low resistance after the last 4 1/2 months left him unable to fight this off. He lost 13 pounds in ten days (no, I don’t know why this is that men can lose weight so quickly. It is totally unfair). But he decided to soldier on and wanted to go to Physical Therapy, despite stomach pains and general weakness. I can’t talk him out of it. So here is how our anniversary went:
We leave house a bit later than usual in the morning as Doc is in slo-mo. Get to post office, nine miles away, and he remembers we need to do some banking. Did he tell me this before we left home? No. And I’ve left the checkbook home. Back home and restart out.
We’re close to the hospital in town when he tells me to hurry a bit, he needs to get to the bathroom. We make it in time, but the therapist takes one look at his gaunt face and hollow eyes and says, “No PT for you today. You need to see the doctor.”
Now our doctor’s office is literally across the street from the hospital, so I get him from the bathroom and push the wheelchair across the street and up the ramp. This is no mean feat as most of this road is gravel. Our doc’s office is slammed. And it’s close to closing time for lunch. His nurse comes out and tells us our doctor wants us to go to the ER and get some IV fluids and he’ll see us there.
Back down the ramp, across the road, push the wheelchair up another ramp and into the ER, where the nurses know us and joke they are going to name a room after Doc. Once he gets set up and the IV in, gets snuggled under a warm blanket, he relaxes and I see how pale his face is. He needs these fluids. Our doc comes in and tells him he’ll need a second liter and then we can go home. His blood tests are good, just show the dehydration, and the test for an ulcer is negative. Doc apologizes for ruining our day. I tell him as long as we are together, it doesn’t matter. I almost mean it.
Doc sends me to get some lunch with my mom, who lives in town and frequently stops in at PT to say hello. They, of course, sent her to the ER. On our way back from eating a quick burger, she has me stop at her house to pick up the dozen pink roses she bought for our big day. They are really pretty and perk me up. When I get back to the ER, I open all the windows so the roses won’t die, as it’s warm and in the 80’s.
Two hours later, the second liter is running. (You can’t jam this stuff in or you overload the patient’s heart, not a good thing.) We joke about spending our anniversary in the ER. Doc has eaten a decent lunch after they gave him meds for the stomach pains and dozes off. I hear a loud noise from outside as the lights flicker and go out. In a minute the generator starts and we have lights again, but a raging thunderstorm with pea-sized hail is going on outside.
This is what the locals in NC call a ‘frog guzzler’ a real soaker with rain so fast and furious you can’t see the cars in the parking lot. The same lot where my truck is parked. With its windows open for the roses. . .
An hour later we are good to go. The hail has stopped, but it’s still raining a steady downpour. I run to the vehicle swathed in plastic the ER nurses give me and have to wade through a puddle that soaks my Birki’s and wets my jeans halfway up my leg. I use towels to try to dry the seats. They bring Doc to the front door where an overhang gets him in without incident. All set to go.
We stop at the pharmacy and I run inside to fill his scripts. But wait, the lights in town are out, remember? So the pharmacist can’t get online to do anything. He is, however, a good friend and gives me a few of the stomach pills to hold us over. Back through the rain to the truck. I am so wet by now, my jeans have wicked the rain up to my knees and my shirt is soaked through. “Nice bra,” Doc says, with a hint of amusement. I squeeze water out of my wet hair.
We set off for home, only I hear a weird noise and go slowly in the shopping center lot. Doc says the car is listing to one side a bit. Then a dashboard light comes on. “LOW TIRE PRESSURE.” Ya think? I get out in the rain and run around the side. The front tire is flat as a pancake. And it’s still raining.
We call the local tire place and fortunately, they have become friends over our 13 years down here. The owner sends her son and another man to our rescue. They change the tire in the pouring rain and I tip them gratefully. The tire is ruined, a huge chunk of glass in it from in front of the pharmacy. We’ll have to get a new one on our next trip to PT Weds. But we are ready to go home.
When we finally get home, it’s starting to get dark. We’ve been out of the house for nine hours, I’m soaked to the skin although now it’s starting to dry and get nice and clammy on the half hour ride home. Doc restrains me from getting out of the car to get his walker, and hands me a card.
A card? Where did he get a card? He confesses he found it a few months ago and saved it in his desk for today.
I open it and the cover is a black and white phot0graph (Doc knows I love B/W photo’s).
It shows the back of a tall gentleman (Doc is 6′ 4″) with white hair (yes) holding hands with a short (I”m 5′ 2″ on a good day) woman, kinda chunky (ditto). They are naked, and they are running into the surf at the ocean. They are about 80 years old.
The caption is a quote from someone named Jerome K. Jerome: “Nothing is more beautiful than the LOVE that has weathered the storms of life.”
And in that moment I realize I really DID mean it. And how lucky I am to have this man in my life.
And that it was really a very good anniversary, after all.
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