The love story grows with age

“Old with me, the best is yet to come.”

That’s the phrase on a wall hanging in our bedroom. Placed there, of course, by my wonderful wife, Suzi. I watched it many times and visions of well-aged sugar plums crossed my mind.

Scenes of two gray-haired elderly people strolling beside a calm pond or a flower-lined path. Of course, they walk hand in hand. Another often imagined scenario shows this same geriatric couple on a park bench by the same pond with the same beautiful flowers growing nearby. Or, if my imagination really goes wild, with loving smiles on their faces, this couple rides in a horse-drawn carriage towards a wonderful sunset. Nearby, of course, are fields of flowers and this peaceful pond.

Since Christmas, however, the thought of getting older has soured those sugar plums somewhat. Suzi and I, both over 70, were blessed with good health. It’s not that we haven’t slowed down, because we have. She still has a steady job at a local CPA office, but these days she often comes home from work completely exhausted.

During my retirement years I was able to cultivate a large vegetable garden and cut and split enough firewood to heat our house all winter, even in seasons when the snow and cold persisted well in what should be the spring.

Following:Picture from the past

This winter, however, I’m already beginning to wonder if I’ll be able to do my chores in the garden in the spring, or on the dwindling woodpile. You see, during the Christmas season, my age caught up with me in a cruel way. Out of nowhere I was struck with sciatic nerve pain in my lower back, hip and left leg.

For this diagnosis, I relied on Google, which is probably not recommended by the American Medical Association. I was happy to read on several resource pages that the pain could suddenly disappear in as little as two or three days. I was less than happy to continue reading where the affliction could linger for up to three months. Oh no!

I let those two or three days go by with very little relief from over-the-counter painkillers. Then I made an appointment with a local chiropractor. After five or six visits and with little improvement, my chiropractor suggested I see a local doctor who could order x-rays of my hips and lower back. X-rays suggested I might have a gallstone, so the next step was an ultrasound of my abdomen – all on the right side and well away from where the pain was eating me alive. Fortunately, I passed the scan without any issues detected.

Here is my status today: two visits to doctors and five prescription medications later, I am still in almost constant pain. All the x-rays showed was the development of arthritis in my hips. So that’s what aging is, huh? Is it “the best yet to be?”

It didn’t take long for Suzi to convince me what “the best” really is. And, it took me just as long to confirm that Suzi, herself, is the “best”. Since this painful aggravation began, she has been the best spoiler, the best caregiver, the best nurse, the best anything anyone can be for someone they love.

She helped me store a large supply of firewood in our garage in anticipation of this heavy snowfall. She is constantly on me to take my medications in a timely manner. She bought lined sweatpants and thermal socks to keep me warm. At the start of this attack, she helped me get dressed in the morning. She scolds me when I try to do things I probably shouldn’t, like trying to get my van out of a mountain of snow in our driveway. (My good grandson Tanner saved me from this jam.)

Regularly, Suzi asks me if I need anything. What can she do to ease my discomfort? What can it bring me?

Do not understand that I am completely incapable. I’m not. I am still able to stoke the fire in the woodstove every morning and feed it with logs during waking hours. I am still able to cook our meals and prepare her lunch. I tell her that I feel like I’ve become a burden on her. She won’t hear of it.

In these days of medical science where they can transplant a pig’s heart into a human, I haven’t given up on the local medical staff. I firmly believe they will find a way to ease an old man’s pain.

In the meantime, I am very grateful for the best life has to offer. It would be Suzi. On Monday – fittingly, Valentine’s Day – we will celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary. So, thank you, Suzi, for everything you are to me and everything you do.

Be mine, Valentine. I love you so much.

Dan Tackett is a retired editor of The Courier. He can be contacted at dtackett@gmail.com.

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