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I think it was your voice that first attracted me to you.

 

Bold, yet gentle. Assertive, yet calming. I looked up from the word on my page and found your question on my mind. Was the seat next to me taken? No, I assumed it was not and with that, entered into an exchange of information, insights, and influence — your voice magnetic, with just a touch of magic.

 

You made me laugh with that voice. Spontaneous, yet somehow strategic, weaving a humorous thread of the past onto the loom of the present. You selected my whimsical yarns to intertwine with your deliberated woolen words and spun a scarf of delightful giggles that tickled me from within.

 

In the subsequent days, I heard you pray. Maybe it was your prayer that attracted me to you. A prayer whose roots sunk deep, shining light into the hidden recesses of your mind and heart. Your words were life and spirit, like the scribe who unearths treasures, both new and old — dripping freshness from the ancient passages and opening insights behind previously closed doors. Your voice knew God, and it was obvious He also knew you. Your pathway to Him proved straight and well-worn.

 

When the summer’s heat melted the sound of your voice far away, you poured words into your letters like honey on dry toast. “How my heart is thrilled with every remembrance of you,” you began and I lapped up the sweetness like a child with her first dairy dessert. “I want you to be all that God has for you,” you encouraged, and I experienced my first washing of the word. “I’m praying for you,” you reassured and I felt cherished, holy, and blameless.

 

In the winter’s frost, we walked into forever together — you and I. Not so much with a word, but with a vow, the kind that commits, regardless of circumstances. “In Him all things hold together,” we penned on the invitations, never truly realizing the profundity of the promise. Feeling much, but pledging past emotion, we promised without realizing the pending tedium.

 

As the years past, we both enjoyed and endured the children, the carriers, the culture and the conveyances. We experienced disasters, discord, and discouragements. The fights and the flights. The moments, all so ordinary, built up into one extraordinary life.

 

From Athens to Atlanta, Bangkok to Biltmore, Campbell River to Chiang Mai, Dallas, D.C., Dunblane, to Dalvay by the Sea, Ellian Donan to Edinburgh, Fuzhou, Guilin, Hong Kong to Hsinshu, Isle of Skye, Juan de Fuca trail, Kuantan, Kuala Lumpur, Ko Sumui to Kyoto, Linz, Linden, London to Los Angeles, Macau, McAdoo, Melk, Miscouche, Montpelier to Moncton….Phuket, Portree, to Prague… Salizburg, San Francisco, Seoul, Silver Falls, Singapore, Sooke, Sounio, to St. John’s….Taipei to Taichung… Vancouver, Václav Havel, Victoria, to Vienna…and yes…even to Zibo.

 

We’ve thirty-five years together – walking and talking; growing and sowing; exploring our future, explaining our viewpoints, expressing our opinions, expunging our past. And excuse the cliche’, but you are still the one.

 

As I think on it, maybe it wasn’t exactly your voice, or your letters, or your prayers that first attracted me to you. In the beginning it was simply your word — the Word that was in you and the Word that was you. Because through and through, you are what you say and you fulfill what you promise. You are a man of authority, leadership, and wisdom, my dear husband. And come to think of it, I’m still attracted to you. Happy Anniversary.

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fixin'

“Your husband called while you were away from your desk. He asked that you not go home with the carpool. He’s waiting downstairs to pick you up.”

 

Now, I would like to boast that I was working at some high level writing job in downtown San Francisco. But since one of my early job interviews ended in my being dismissed by a pat on the head (you think I’m joking), I was working instead as a ward clerk at St. Mary’s Hospital, across from Golden Gate Park.

 

In order to clear up any misunderstanding as to the nature of this job, let me clarify by quoting from my job description.

 

“Ward clerk”: a critical, yet demeaning position on a hospital floor by which a low-life is selected to achieve various assignments including cataloging charts, directing telecommunication calls, and deciphering the hieroglyphics with which physicians make notes. Because everyone that walks the halls of this hospital will be ranked higher in importance than said ward clerk, this capacity will also include but is not limited to bearing all fault surrounding lapses in the Hippocratic Oath.

 

I must have been quite good at this job, not only because I was often the brunt of someone’s bad day, but also because my phone rang more than most unit secretaries in that particular hospital.

 

For the benefit of those you that still wear shower caps, let me explain. I’d been raised in Texas on a dry land cotton farm where everyone I knew pronounced “I” as flat as the plains around them. I grew up fixin’ to do thangs on my calindr and fixin’ sweet tay for supper. When someone got upset we told them to not get their pannies in a wad, and when someone got outta line we called them “ring-tailed tooters” (properly pronounced “rang-tayld tooders”). Everyone knew someone in their life that was “weirder than a football bat” and it had never occurred to me that I didn’t “tawk liahk” everybody else.

 

Until California that is. You see, I didn’t speak San Franciscan.

 

Once word spread within the hospital that a “foreigner” was answering the Transitory Care Unit extension, I kept quite busy fielding calls.

 

“Tee-Cee-You,” I’d answer. “Thiyus is Kanyundee.” It seems that other areas of the building didn’t have as much work as I did as these calls often ended in hysterical laughter and a dial tone. You’d think an important place like this could keep busy doing facial peels and hemorrhoid surgeries.

 

And then there was the translation of the doctors notes. I swear their handwriting looked more like great swarms of insects in the house of Pharaoh than anything actually containing the alphabet. I learned very quickly that “code blue” and “cold or flu” were not easily distinguished in manuscript, yet greatly differed in ministration.

 

It had been one of those days. I’d been as busy as a funeral home fan in July and I felt like I’d been rode hard and put up wet. It was at this time that I discovered Mark was waiting for me in the lobby.

 

Within minutes, I’d joined him downstairs and I could tell by his smirk that something was up. Even though we’d only been married a year, I could deduce that he was there for something more than just the thrill of driving ninety minutes in 5:00 rush traffic.

 

“You’ve been working so hard lately, I thought it might be good to get out of town,” he smiled. And with that, he pointed to three large suitcases in the back of our van, all of which he had packed himself with me in mind (meaning of course, that he could have no idea what a woman would actually need on a weekend get-away and therefore had emptied my entire toiletry drawer into one suitcase and my complete summer collection into the other two —it worked quite well, I must say).

 

Taking the coastal route, I felt my blood pressure ease as we followed California Highway One past Half Moon Bay and Pigeon Point Lighthouse. I sat in silence taking in the driftwood, sandy beaches, and sheer cliffs that plunged headlong into the Pacific ocean. Upon arrival in Santa Cruz, we pulled into a little motel complete with geraniums hanging in giant baskets outside every window.

 

The place wasn’t spectacular. It didn’t have to be. The view made up for it. We walked the beach and took in the salty air. I spoke Texan all weekend and don’t remember anyone laughing at me. I do remember doing plenty of it myself. We both realized how easy it is to carry the stress of work-life into the home. That weekend we resolved to getaway regularly and made it a budgeted item throughout our married life.

 

Yes, I still remember those three days and two nights. Something about those winds coming off the ocean lifted my spirits. Come to think of it, those geraniums are probably the reason I now keep so many in my front yard every summer.

 

Yup. I’m pretty sure I came home as happy as a tornado in a trailer park.

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Mark and I somewhere along the way – California 1982.

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