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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Story I Have to Tell

She came in for her second post-operative visit right after the holidays.  As always, by her side was her cuddly husband.  After dispensing with the medical stuff (she was doing well), I gently teased them about dressing alike (they were wearing these lovely bright blue and navy clothes that seemed like a matched set!). "Well," she said,"I guess it just happens that way after 55 years-we just celebrated our anniversary." I couldn't let that go so after congratulating them I enquired further why they had married so close to Christmas.  To my utter surprise, they had soon spun out a bewitching tale that to me captures so much that is good about the rich history of our country that I just couldn't keep it to myself.
Mr. M was raised in coal country, West Virginia.  His family had been miners and knew no other life-had never left their local community nor completed any formal education.  After a year in the mines, Mr. M got his draft card-the Korean War was on and all his buddies were heading to the Army for just a two year stint but somehow, Mr. M knew that was not his fate.  He joined the Air Force, promising not 2 but 4 years.  Talking as if were just yesterday, this man then related how nearly all of his friends perished in the war while the Air Force gave him experience and talent, so much so that he became an engineer using the GI Bill.
Along the way, he met Mrs. M.  She completed college before him and when he asked her to move to his college town and help him finish by going to work, she calmly told him-"Only if you marry me!" Thus the holiday wedding-the only time they could fit in so he could complete his demanding engineering degree.  After college, he gained ever more prestigious jobs as an engineer and ultimately they settled in New York.  They have raised 4 successful children and are now enjoying many grandchildren.  They are active and engaged and clearly still in love after 55 years.
Perhaps I cheated Mrs. M during her post-op visit-we talked very little about her or the surgery but she didn't seem to mind.  She was glowing as they alternately told parts of the story, each completing the other's sentences as only long married couples can do.  The visit certainly suffused me with post-holiday cheer, I imagine every Christmas season is particularly special for Mr. and Mrs. M.

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