All of you, each of you, every one of you who reads this blog any time I manage to post something wins my heart. You are my Valentines.
I don’t know what it is that keeps you reading me, week after week, blog after blog. Maybe you are a friend, a relative, a stranger who stumbled on my blog, or someone I met in passing.
Maybe you read me while waiting for your iTunes to download. Maybe you read me while waiting for the teakettle to boil. Maybe you read me while waiting for the dog to do his business. Maybe you read me on your iPad while on the Green Line in Boston and no one reading over your shoulder can figure out why you’re reading about someone in Washington who keeps talking about New Jersey.
Writing a blog like this one isn’t easy. It’s all very self-centered, since I’m writing about my stroke, my brain damage, my recovery. My, my, my, ain’t I selfish, talking about myself?
Just before I graduated from high school (in New Jersey), I remember I promised one of my teachers (who happens to read this blog) that I would talk more in college. I wasn’t very successful at that, but a few years later, two friends pummeled me good-naturedly enough that I learned to carry on a decent group conversation. I thanked them for teaching me to learn how to talk, but I still prefer to write.
When I first started to recover from the stroke I was having a very hard time putting thoughts together. Since writing was still my preferred method of communication, it was natural for me to at last come up with the idea of a blog, rather than try to talk things out.
But since I was convinced I made no sense, I gave everything to CF to read first. For all I knew, I was spewing forth in dactylic pentameter unconsciously, or nattering about celebrity gossip I had overheard on TV while drooling the day away.
Only after the writing had gotten CF’s seal of approval did I post it online.
Even after she started to assure me week after week that I was making perfect sense I continued too make here read me, word for word. I was convinced i was making an idiot of myself somewhere biy lapzsing n2 co0mpleeete nonnseeeense unknown 2 me and she had to sAVENE ME FRUm nyslfef.
This is the first blog entry she has not read ahead of time. That is because the rest of this blog entry is about her, and I didn’t want her to have a chance to stop me from writing it. She is my loveliest Valentine.
Many years ago, when CF and I were young and in love, she used to worry that there would come in day when I would take her for granted.
After nearly 31 years that day has not arrived. I don’t think it ever will.
Because I have MS and because I had a stroke and because the stroke gave me diabetes and because all this made me unsteady and I fell and tore my rotator cuff and because I needed surgery from that fall and because I got blood clots from the surgery and because I now have to have my blood thickness tested, I have had an enormous number of doctor appointments in the last 18 months.
CF has driven me to and/or from most of those appointments. She also sat next to me in the doctor’s office, making sure I understand what to do. Which was rarely.
She has also almost single-handedly maintained our household and raised our son.
She has been a fierce protector, a tender caregiver, a tough coach, and a gentle soulmate. Could I ask for more?
It’s not as if her own life has been quiet. Remember, she broke both of her hands in one way or another last summer. One of her sisters moved out of town last year, which placed more responsibility on her for their elderly mother, also. She has accepted more responsibility at work, also, with a nice promotion, meaning more responsibility, of course.
When I think back over our years together, I realize we’ve been through three heart attacks, three strokes, one bout of colon cancer and two deaths together. Everything but my stroke belongs to our parents.
We’ve also invited two of her sisters to live with us for extended periods of time, stood by my sister through a difficult time in her life, helped nurture an infant nephew through his first year, adopted a child, moved cross-country, lost a house to the mortgage crisis, and suffered through an interminable lawsuit. (I don’t use that word “suffered” lightly. It was truly awful, as many of you know. If you don’t know, just Google “Madsen v. Erwin” for 33,400,000 explanations.)
I suppose in some ways I have come to take CF for granted. I’ve come to take for granted that she will be honest, that she will be loyal, that she will be true, in some sort of grand and glorious post-Girl Scout way. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all.
CF and I have always agreed to not get “mushy” on Valentine’s Day. I have always gotten her a card with lace and hearts and a red envelope and she has gotten me nothing, at my insistence. I am breaking with tradition by writing this blog. She will not speak to me after she reads this.
Just kidding. I hope. Happy Valentine’s Day.