The flame grows stronger through the years


The article I wrote for this week’s edition was like clanging cymbals — no point, no spirit and no love. I moved the pot to the back burner to simmer and waited for more inspiration.

Inspiration did come, but through a day of trials. I saw how one man’s love hasn’t grown cold, but is still as strong as the day he fell in love — a husband, father and our family’s protector — as passionate as the day he said, “I do.”

But life has a way of changing us, shaking us up, and turning upside down what used to be.

A scheduled appointment for day surgery came. It promised just 30 minutes and to be a small thing. The doctor practiced in a Farmington, N.M., hospital. If I wanted this doctor to do the surgery, I had to go to Farmington.

Up at 6 a.m., with plenty of time to spare, I planned the departure time. My Sweet Al gave me directions and I drove. “Turn here, I know a shortcut.”

Al, we don’t need to take a shortcut.

“No car is coming; switch lines and turn left here.”

No, Al.

“Just turn.”

I made a quick left and drove on a road I didn’t recognize. I told him we are going east, heading back toward Pagosa.

“Just keep going. The correct road will come up soon.”

I began to simmer. Al had no idea how I was feeling. The flame was turned up under the pot. Didn’t he know I needed peace? I was struggling to keep the lid on my mounting frustrations.

The surgeon’s written instructions said I needed someone to drive me. I had three people lined up to drive, but Al insisted he be the one.

For me, it wasn’t about Al’s love and protection. We needed someone to take the pressure off of us and make decisions, navigate, find the hospital, doctor’s office and the hotel.

Now the pot was boiling. We were still driving east. Finally, we found the connecting road and drove west. We entered the city of Farmington and looked for the hospital as Sweet Al continued to give me instructions. “You’ve gone too far. Turn around.”

Al, I’m following your instructions.

I turned at one of the lights and saw the hospital. The day turned into endless waiting for a simple 30-minute surgery.

In the long wait, several nurses came into the room. Two of them asked how long we had been married. I said 58 years. Al went on about the love of his youth, how we met, how he saw me back then and how he still loves me today.

One nurse said, “Marriages are hard. How have you made it?”

“Marriage can be difficult. It’s about loving someone more than you love yourself.”

She didn’t know the pot was still heating up from the ordeal of the shortcut.

I realized how Al wanted to take care of me. He needed for me to know that he was my protector. After surgery, it took us another hour full of wrong turns to find the hotel. By the time we found it, we were both spent and fell into bed.

The day proved to be hard, one dilemma after another. The next day was just as trying and frustrating. It proved to me that life at this age has its limitations. Roles have changed. We can’t handle the pressure as we used to do.

Final brushstroke: One thing I experienced the day of outpatient surgery, what was supposed to be simple, became complicated. Al wanted to be there to protect me. The flame in Al continues to grow brighter, even when I’m stewing. I was worried about following maps and finding locations; Al just wanted to love me.

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