Category: Marriage

Unwanted Anniversary Part 3

My journey with chronic fatigue syndrome continued and continues. I wrote of it again in This Path We Share: Reflecting on 60 Years of Marriage. This small excerpt shows some of the ways we coped:

"We eventually learned that while some patients recovered from chronic fatigue syndrome, many did not. However, I was determined not to lose my real life to a disease that, even though a mystery to medical science, was not usually fatal.

"From 1989 onward, Les and I struggled to make that happen. CFS shifted our roles. Doing heavy work made me worse, so Les took over as many chores as he could. We learned to stay at home in the evening. We started going to bed earlier than we preferred. If I could order from a catalogue, I skipped shopping. Friends slowly disappeared because I did not have enough energy to make and keep luncheon dates or carry on a converation when I did go. My family and friends tired of asking how I felt and hearing 'exhausted,' so I started saying, 'Fine.' 

"I increasingly turned to Les for strength and understanding. Only he could validate my journey with CFS; no one else knew or understood how difficult it was for both of us.

"Sometimes I dreamed about CFS. I would be visiting relatives or attending a party and feel too exhausted to lift my arms or legs; I felt as if I were disappearing into nothingness. The dream always frightened me to consciousness, but it was the one nightmare from which I could not awake.

"The rivers of entropy flowed on. And we knew that we could not stay in the Garden of Eden, no matter how hard we tried."

Most of the time, I accept my limitations. After all, I have had twenty-four years to adjust. It is part of the fabric of my life. CFS and my breast cancer a year later changed everything. And nothing. 

During all those years since April 6, 1989, I had two separate mastectomies, gave up teaching piano, wrote three books, traveled by car over 400,000 miles (without homicide or divorce?!) to speak more than 600 times, spent precious never-to-be-forgotten hours with my beloved husband and our four children and their families. 

But I know that there are many CFS patients who cannot live their lives, no matter how much accommodation they may try to do. I have been extremely lucky and I feel unworthy of the good fortune I have had. I am trying to give back as much as I can out of gratitude.   

This thread to be completed tomorrow with a poem…

Horror at the Airport

On November 27, Les and I arrived at Denver International Airport after a Thanksgiving visit to our son in Michigan. We deplaned at Gate B 95 – miles from where we needed to be. Les walked on the people-carrier and I walked briskly beside it. It was my walk for the day. Les began walking slower and slower. I suggested that he quit walking and just ride. I shouldered one of his bags to add to the two I already commandeered. Finally he said, “I can’t walk anymore. I have to sit down.”

Les looked so haggard and pale that I checked for his pulse. Where is it? I must have a bad spot. An airport cart waited nearby, but the driver said that he was unable to leave that area to take us to the train. “However, your husband can sit on the cart and rest. And there is a wheelchair station right over there,” he pointed.

We waited a while until a young attendant came to settle Les into a wheelchair. She took us down an elevator, then got us onto the train at Station B.

As we sped toward Station A, I suddenly noticed that Les was staring into space. Eyes wide open—nobody home. I called to him, “Les. Les, honey, wake up. Please wake up.” I shook him, and called again. No response. I could get no heartbeat anywhere. One of his arms dropped. The other dropped. I begged him not to leave me and screamed, “My husband is dying. My husband is dying.” I couldn’t grasp that our sixty-four plus years of marriage was ending on a stupid train at DIA.

Someone—another employee?—swooped in and whisked our attendant and Les' wheelchair off the train. I jammed one of my suitcases into the door to keep it from closing with me still in the train, departing for God knows where.

Where are we? I didn’t know. Our young attendant flailed her arms in the air and moaned, “Oh, God, I don’t know what to do.” She didn’t know where we were, either.

I kept calling for help into this huge empty space where I could see only three other people. I grabbed one passerby and begged him to please help me lift Les off the wheel chair so I could do CPR. But I couldn’t even budge Les’ right leg. I doubt if five men could have lifted him.

Then Les moved ever so slightly and the man said, “See, he’s OK. He doesn’t need CPR,” and hurried on his way.

Les was alive. But had he had a stroke or heart attack? Could he stay alive? At some point someone called the paramedics. When the eight burly men arrived, the lead guy said, “Your husband is very ill. An ambulance is coming.” They started IVs and oxygen, working feverishly.

And there we were somewhere in the bowels of a huge airport. Somehow the ambulance men found us and transported us (and our baggage) to a hospital.

When we arrived, Les was more lucid and began to stabilize. I stayed in his room overnight. I couldn’t have thought of leaving him. By the next afternoon, he had returned to his normal health. Diagnosis: dehydration and atrial fibrillation. 

The following Sunday, our pastor spoke of Advent as a time of waiting and preparation. He offered the thought that things we have done in the past can help us in the present and will assist us in the future. He told how, when his wife’s mother died recently, they read Scripture and sang hymns as she lay on her deathbed. The fact they had sung these hymns hundreds of times in the past made it possible for them to sing them at this sad time. The many previous readings of Scripture had girded their souls for such a time. We prepare, sometimes unknowingly.

Did past events help me during this crisis? Will this episode provide any help in the future? Was it a dress rehearsal, a preparation, what?

All I know is that I want never again to feel as I did for those harrowing, however-many minutes.

But I also know that I probably will.

Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad
©12/12/12

4 Marriage Tips from Someone Who Thought She Knew

My models for marriage were not flawless.

Although of course I didn't really know (can one ever really know about someone else's marriage?), I did not view the marriages of several couples in my early life as being especially happy. Some of them indulged in long, uncomfortable silences when they were angry or hurt. Others barely tolerated one another. My grandparents had not shared a bed since they were surprised by their sixth child.

I knew I wanted to be able to share my deepest thoughts with whomever my future husband would be; I wanted him to be my best friend, there for me when I needed him; I wanted to write poems for him and have him understand. I wanted more. (Excerpted from This Path)

And of course, there in my teens, I thought that knowing what I wanted would make a marriage perfect. No surprise there. I thought I knew everything. 

It turns out that our marriage is not perfect. But it has lasted 64 years,15 days, and counting. And Les and I do have a few more tips that have helped us:

  1. Understand that no partner in a marriage is 100% wrong.
  2. If you think you hate him, watch him sleep and gently touch his face.
  3. Try to go to bed at the same time each night; play kissy-face.
  4. Realize that sex can be a rite of forgiveness.

 

What strategies have you used to improve your marriage?

Just four more days to take advantage of the special offer to get a copy of THIS PATH WE SHARE for just $10 plus FREE SHIPPING. This Path encourages, entertains, and inspires any couple. A fine gift for weddings, anniversaries, yourself.

Any questions, call 303.781.8974.

5 Tips on Marriage from Someone Who Really Doesn’t Know

64 years and 13 days.

As our anniversary month nears a close, I think of many things I would have liked to have shared. Oh, well, maybe next year! Or maybe this Thursday.

I don't usually talk about tips because I firmly believe that each new day in a marriage is an adventure with the possibility to be totally amazing and the possibility of falling off a cliff with a steep climb back. (The steep climb back is only feasible if the fall has not been fatal.)

"Amazing" or "devastating" depend somewhat on the affect of the two persons involved on a given day and somewhat on events that unfold and somewhat on events that occurred years ago that tend to pop up at the most inopportune moments. (People talk about leaving past altercations in the past. Good for them.)

And I don't give advice because, even after 64 years, no one is an expert on marriage.

Anyway, if these help, I'm happy.

  • Create a post-parenthood marriage. It will be different from pre-parenthood and vastly different from the years you were bearing and raising children.
  • Remember no partner in a marriage is ever 100% right.
  • Make a commitment to life-long sexual connection. You'll be glad you did.
  • Reinvent your lives as necessary.
  • Realize that your shared history becomes more precious as each year goes by.

 

I'd like to hear your tips. 

And remember the special offer stands through September 30. Copies of This Path We Share for only $10 plus FREE shipping. Click on "Order Direct Add to Cart." Any questions, 303.781.8974. Money back guarantee.

 

Married in September (7)

Be sure to read to end of post for the surprise!

Today I want to tell you about our overnight trip to Grand Lake to celebrate our 64th. 

The first big departure from our original honeymoon was that this time it rained furiously all the way to Estes Park. followed by twenty miles of fog into Rocky Mountain National Park. As soon as we passed the Continental Divide, there was the sun. We could see a long stretch of the Divide. On the east side of the ridge, the dense clouds piled right up to the top. The west side was blue sky. Quite striking.

Secondly, while we were assigned the same cabin we had sixty-four years ago, it had been remodeled. King size bed now. Electric heat instead of the old wood stove. Updated bathroom. New carpet covered the old rough wood floors. Quite lovely.

Third departure – not quite as much sex.

Fourth departure – We went to dinner on the glassed-in deck of the Lodge. In honor of our anniversary, and with much enthusiasm from management, we gave a copy of This Path We Share to each couple there. Our gifts were met with delight and soon the entire deck was wrapped in love and good wishes. Les and I were ecstatic.

And now, while we can't give away books to all of you, I did promise a surprise and this is it:

Starting today, through September 30 only, we are offering copies of This Path We Share for just $10 (regular price $18.95) plus FREE shipping. This book makes a wonderful present for newly marrieds, harrieds, and old-timers like us. Limit 3 to a customer, please.

Go to the bottom of the page on  This Path We Share and click on "Order Direct Add to Cart." You can order as a guest if you don't have a Paypal account. If you want to send a check or have questions, call me at 303.781.8974. 

We offer a money-back guarantee. If you hate the book, I'll feel terrible, of course, but send it back and we will (sort of happily) refund the $10.

What can you lose? Do it now. I'll even personalize the book for you.

If you aren't interested, please keep following my blog, anyway! I love you all.