Saturday, December 19, 2009

“Highlights from a Holiday Formal Dinner Dance”

Paul and I got dressed to the nines last night and went to the Officers’ Club for a gathering of folks with whom we celebrate the holidays this way every December. I love to be with my husband any time, but it is especially exciting when he dons his tux and we step out. There’s something about that tux that brings out an extra measure of chivalry in him and that makes him even more handsome to me.

Anyone who knew me when I was a radical in my youth would be shocked that I married a military man. Paul, a career officer in the Air Force, retired and went on to pursue first a Master’s degree in History, then an MBA, and eventually law school in his 50th year. He indeed is very smart. And I like smart people who love learning.

The first person who caught my attention last night was a small woman in a wheel chair. She was with a group of friends and her husband and daughter who doted on her. I had seen her several times before at the Club, but I never had greeted her. My two friends with Multiple Sclerosis have sensitized me to what life in a wheel chair is like, so I was determined that, at least for a moment, she not feel invisible. I introduced myself and said, “Dare I even ask, do you have MS?” “Yes,” she quietly said and turned away. I wondered if I were out of place asking a stranger that question, as I stepped away to give her privacy while she struggled to transfer from her wheel chair to her place at the table.

There was only one young military man present with his tall, beautiful wife. Decked out in his Marine full dress uniform, he was quite handsome himself. After dinner, he and his Grandfather, dressed in his old Marine uniform that still fit, had their picture taken together. They stood at least 6 inches apart, making sure they didn’t touch. On the spur of the moment, I playfully said they should take their picture again with their arm around each other. The older man said not unkindly, “No. We’re Marines!” as if to say, “Perish the thought!” I thought how sad it is that he and Marines' unspoken rule deprived these two men of the affection everyone needs and deserves. Later, I bought the young man a beer. He told me he’s frustrated that he has to wait six months to be deployed to Afghanistan. “I can’t wait to go!” he said.

I love flirting with one man in particular, always careful to do so in Paul’s presence so I send a clear message to both of them that I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. I am blessed that my husband trusts me and is not in any way jealous or possessive. This gray-haired gentleman impishly stepped over to our table and playfully invited me to “dump” Paul so he and I could get together. I said it wouldn’t happen, and he trounced back to his table in mock horror, turning around to wink as he rejoined his wife.

Perhaps the highlight of the evening, beyond basking in my husband’s love and the magic of the evening, was encountering a woman sitting at the bar with her husband. I spotted her immediately and instinctually was drawn to her. She was reflexively rubbing her shoulder, so I knew she was in pain. I went over to her and asked her permission to touch her hands. When she agreed, I pressed some acupressure points. She noticed a slight decrease of pain. When I picked up her other hand, I was shocked to find a bulbous and swollen knuckle, the telltale sign of someone struggling with severe rheumatoid arthritis. I merely put my hand gently over her knuckle, continuing to talk softly with her and joke with her husband. When I took my hand away, her knuckle was noticeably less swollen and red. I had moved some of her energy that had log jammed in and around that knuckle. But I am convinced that the warmth of our human contact was the major factor in this.

On the way home, I couldn’t stop myself from telling Paul what a lovely evening I had had, how much I love being with him, and of my love for him. I have tears in my eyes now as I write. I hope I never stop appreciating what a gift our marriage and his love are to me.

If you wish to take a look at some pictures taken of us last night, here is the link to my Facebook page.

Paul and I wish you warm holidays and a fulfilling new year.