Last year my significantly better half Cathi was so excited that we were to have our grandkids stay with us for two weeks while their parents were out of state. But my wrenched knee caused concern that I wouldn’t be able to handle the daily chauffeuring, playing and caregiving. To top it off the night before the kids were to arrive, I came down with a cellulitis infection in my good leg. Cathi wanted to have the grandkids stay with friends of the family.
I said no. I sucked it up and they stayed with us. It wreaked havoc on me physically but emotionally and spiritually it was so worth it. Love is sacrifice.
Early on in our relationship I rode Amtrak regularly to Sacramento to see Cathi. One Saturday morning she was waiting by the tracks in a full-length leather coat and holding a single red rose. It was beautiful seeing her like that and once we got into her car it was even more beautiful what she had on under the coat. Nothing. Love is surprises.
Also, early in our relationship I was thrilled Cathi had finally found a long lost uncle living in Southern California. He wrote a delightfully long letter filled with colorful characters and memorable stories from a life well lived. She responded with a letter of her own describing her life, her daughter and granddaughter and me. Her uncle’s next letter wasn’t so delightful. He disapproved of me, disapproved of interracial relationships.
Cathi wrote him one final letter explaining that we were a package deal and that if he couldn’t accept me, she couldn’t accept him. Love is being fair.
A couple years ago I was rushing Cathi to get dressed and she hated that but we had 6:30 pm reservations at Cattlemens. She was frustrated that I was almost pulling her along through the busy steakhouse until we got to a backroom where her daughter and grandkids; sister and brother-in-law from Pasadena, CA; sister and niece and nephew from Aptos, CA; and sister and brother-in-law from Maui, HI rose up yelling, “Surprise!” The blurry photo of Cathi, eyes wide and a hand clamped over her mouth is one of my favorites. Love is family.
Sometimes after an argument where I know I’m in the right I’ll be sitting in the living room steaming and I’ll hear the bedroom door open ever so softly. She’ll appear minus the sarcasm, the defensiveness, and the petty rejoinders. In a soft voice she’ll apologize and my anger melts away. Or the shoe is on the other foot and I’ll apologize to her. Love is not holding grudges.
To me, Cathi is what Sharon is to Ozzy. When I’m sick, she’s Nurse Cathi. When I’m in the hospital, she’s bringing whatever I need and also dropping off donuts to the nurses (which ensures me great treatment!). On Saturdays she cooks whatever I want for breakfast or dinner. And if I mention something I like in passing chances are at some point, she’ll be surprising me with it.
Likewise I’ll take her to the movies or out for sushi. We’ll go feed the ducks or go for a drive. She’ll be the first to listen to my newest stories and give me priceless feedback. I’ll cook her dinner and listen to her troubles at work and massage her back. Love is the little things.
The best things I like about her don’t even have anything to do with me. It’s how she spoils the grandkids. It’s when she walks up to cops parked in parking lots and hands them Starbucks gift cards to thank them for their service. And while it frustrates me that she takes work related calls when we’re at the movies or it’s late at night, I just know that that’s who she is. It’s the fearless way she handles difficult situations. I once watched her in a negotiation to buy a car where she left an arrogant salesman’s nuts bouncing on the floor. We left that dealership, went to their competitor and bought the same car and drove it back by the nutless one’s dealership just to wave to him. Friggin’ awesome. Love is admiring someone’s character.
The best way I can explain how I feel about her happened just days before my birthday last year. Cathi had taken me to the ER with a 103 degree fever, aches, lethargy and some confusion. I had X-rays, blood draws and an IV started while the doctor peppered Cathi with questions like, “Does he have a DNR?” I still didn’t know what was going on, thinking I was having some kind of complication from a colonoscopy and upper GI endoscopy I’d had the day before. I would end up in the ICU with sepsis with doctors fearing the worst.
Still in the ER the doctor began asking me questions to check for mental confusion. Name? Date? Who’s the President? He pointed to Cathi and said, “Who is she?” And I blurted out:
That’s what love is.