Forty years ago, my husband and I chose each other for better or for worse. Some days I think he got the worse. I was once this vivacious, voluptuous, attractive woman in a Sophia Loren kind of way. Okay, maybe not quite Sophia Loren, but what I lacked in Italian beauty I made up for in personality and movement. Ah, but change is inevitable. Gravity has been pulling on this body for almost 60 years. Medical conditions (lumpectomy, open heart, hysterectomy) necessitated numerous surgeries. And sometimes I just don’t have the energy or desire for…well… you know.
My husband has had his share of issues as well – testicular cancer, cardiac stents, intestinal issues and orthopedic ailments that limit his movement. The landscape that once was firm, strong and resilient now sports a large “corporation” where his “six-pack” was. His energy level isn’t always up to par although he still has that twinkle in his eyes.
We look in the mirror and find it hard to see the two beautiful young people we once were.
Or maybe not.
The years may have added wrinkles we call laugh lines, drooping eyelids that need clothes pins to hold them up, and more visits to the bathroom than a night watchman making rounds at a museum. However, with all the ailments has come a softening of demeanor, patience at the little annoyances and the sacrificing of one’s self for the other. It is wisdom that only comes from growing up, growing older and growing together. Most importantly, it is keeping faith in times of joy and sadness.
While I reminisce about our youth; I am in awe of where God has taken us. John 15 states: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” After forty years of pruning and living, society may not see us as the most beautiful. Perhaps the beauty is in the wisdom we have gained through the plethora of medical issues – a sort of physical pruning that grows an individual to be stronger, while more resilient, and grateful despite the medical maelstrom. And through this pruning it is my prayer that we have grown to bear fruit for God for I am grateful that God is our gardener.
My wonderful and patient husband still sees the Sophia Loren in me. His eyesight is somewhat less than 20/20 – thank you, Lord! And I still see the Thad Schoen I fell in love with: kind, good, and faithful. How good is that? Even better is that the love that drew us together wasn’t just based on looks and animal magnetism. No, our love was and is based on shared faith, morals, goals and true respect for one another. We find many ways to demonstrate our love: holding hands, cuddling, sharing in mutual interests such as cooking, music, movies, reading, biking, and traveling. And if the sparks should ignite – well, it’s the Fourth of July!
Ovaries and testicles come and go, but love can never be surgically removed! Our landscape may have changed but the beauty and love remain as strong as it was 40 years ago. Thanks be to God.
July 14, 1974 – St. Lucy’s Church, Highland Beach, Fl