A few mornings ago, I took Christopher to get some blood work at a lab in town. It’s been wicked cold in these parts and the temperature on this particular morning was maybe 5*.
John, before he buckled him into this car seat, had convinced four-year-old Edward that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hat Santa brought was indeed a good idea. Edward kvetched only a little before agreeing to put on the hat.
Christopher, being a few years older, was diligent about his cold weather gear so when we finally arrived to the lab, we did it laden with hats, mittens and puffy winter coats.
As I settled the boys, I smiled at an elderly married couple beaming over at us. I could tell right away they enjoyed seeing Christopher and Edward.
The older lady said to them, “Boys, how is the weather?”
Christopher looked at her, wide eyed, and didn’t know what to make of her comment.
He is a young man of very few words and so he said,
He shoved his hands into his winter coat and looked at the ground.
Edward fussed with his Teenage Mutant Turtle cap before I finally took it from him and shoved it deep into his zipped up coat.
I rolled my eyes at the old lady and she giggled.
I sat down across from the boys and right next to the couple.
They immediately told me they had two grown children of their own, one great grandchild, and another great grandchild on the way. They both mused about when their boys were the same ages of mine and we talked about the joys of life with small children.
When his wife was called back for her blood work, the older gentleman shared that just a few short months ago the doctors took 32 ounces of liquid off of his wife’s stomach because she was having some kind of heart issue.
His eyes filled with tears.
“She looked pregnant there was so much fluid,” he said.
“She looks wonderful now!” I told him.
We found a terrific physician who calls us all the time to check on her. That doctor saved her life. We love that doctor,” the man explained.
I told him a good doctor was hard to find and I was glad they’d discovered one. He shook his head in agreement.
Then the man switched gears and told me about how, in the last few weeks, his wife’s best friend died suddenly early one morning. They were devastated by the loss.
“My wife was laughing and cutting up with her on the phone the night before she died! The next morning, she was gone,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief.
His eyes filled with tears again when he told me about loosing his friend and the trip they were all planning to take together in the spring.
Before I knew it, we were talking about marriage.
“We will be married for 58 years this summer,” he said. (Though his wife corrected him later and told me they’d been married for 59 years.)
“I’m not gonna lie, I spent some of that those years sulking out in the garage but it kept me from yelling at her,” he joked.
“I went to my nephew’s third wedding this summer. I asked my wife if we could get the gifts we gave him for the first two marriages back!” he said.
I laughed at his comment, but I think he was serious.
“People don’t stay married anymore,” he said.
“Marriage is hard and I don’t think people know how to endure hard things these days,” I countered.
“Maybe,” he said.
“If you aren’t willing to compromise, you need to probably stay away from marriage, he said. “ That’s my advice.”
“I think I’m going to take your advice,” I said. “If you’ve stayed married for 58 years, you know what you’re talking about. You’ve got some weight behind your words.”
At that, his wife came out from getting her blood work done.
I thanked them both for visiting with me and told them to have a nice day and off they both went into the bitter cold.
Later that evening, when I huddled under my heating blanket hoping the warmth would penetrate the cold that had permeated down deep to my bones, I opened my examination of conscience book and I read the question, “Who wore the face of God for you today?”
And I thought of that old man and his wife, who in just a few short minutes schooled me in the ways of life.