IMG_3316I follow the daily cartoon strip “Stone Soup” in our local newspaper. Over the last several months Evie, the grandma, has been developing a relationship with Arnold, a man who does volunteer humanitarian work in South Africa. In today’s episode, Arnold asked Evie to marry him. She said, “Marry you? And then what?” Arnold said, “Whatever we want.”

When I read the cartoon, I started to cry. It took me back to a chilly fall morning in 1997. Alex and I had been married for just a year. He was the president of a large community college and I was the local sales manager for the CBS television affiliate in Albuquerque, NM. Both jobs were extremely stressful and demanding. Every morning we got up at 5:30 and took our dog Val for a walk.

One morning, as Alex was describing the latest antics of a couple of his irascible board members, he stopped in the middle of the path and said, “You know, we don’t have to do this any more.”

I was stunned, and I asked, “If we didn’t do this, what would we do?” and he said, “We can do anything we want to do.”

It was an amazing moment and a huge turning point in our lives. We decided to quit our jobs, sell our house and do something different. We moved to Oregon in the summer of 1998. In the fall Alex started teaching a doctoral course in Community College Administration at Oregon State University. He thought he might work for two or three more years. He retired last winter after teaching for 15..

This morning he’s having trouble standing. It takes total concentration for him to maintain his balance, and he started walking with a cane. We are trying to remain calm and patient while waiting for a call from the surgeon’s office. We hope he’ll be able to see Alex next week and get his back surgery scheduled soon.

We are doing everything we can to keep each other encouraged and to stay positive. Patience has never been one of my virtues. So I decided instead of pacing or panicking, I will reflect on all of the things for which I am grateful. I am recalling all of the wonderful experiences we’ve had together and all of the interesting friends we have made since moving to Oregon. I am thinking positive thoughts, and hoping that after the surgery we will once again have the ability to do whatever we want to do.