I remember coming back to our rental home in the Texas Tech ghetto in the summer of 1974 after a weekend of water skiing and drinking. Marty was sitting on the front porch of the house I rented with three other guys, waiting, for me.
I remember sitting in the garage of that same house, Marty and I were sitting on the floor, legs touching, talking quietly as we watched, listened and smelled the summer rain. I remember being aware of growing close.
I remember the very early summer morning, in Paris (Texas), watching as they wheeled Marty away to the delivery room to give birth to our first child, a son. I remember how long the wait seemed and how intolerably dumb it was that I had to sit in the waiting room.
I remember watching as my daughter was born in Muenster (again, Texas) and seeing this perfectly round head with dark hair capture my heart as she took her first breath. This time I was there to see Marty perform a miracle.
I remember sitting in our church, standing to sing a hymn and putting my hand over Marty’s as we both rested our hands on the pew in front of us.
I remember singing along with Pluto and Goofy and the gang as we made one more road trip to west Texas.
I remember standing at the top of the ski slope with Marty; she was dressed in the bright red ski suit that Erin would wear when she became an adult. I remember looking at the sky, the snow, our children and being very simply, happy.
I have often worried if our time of making good memories was over. I have worried that the strokes, which have permeated every facet of our lives, would simply take over and color any and all memories I might have after the strokes. I have worried that the only memories we were making were the memories of illness and fighting for survival.
Then, I close my eyes, I think, I remember.
Then I remember seeing Marty standing and dancing on a set of steps they used at rehab after her first stroke. I was amazed because I wasn’t sure Marty would ever be what she was before. She smiled as she stood there, supported by her therapist and I, once again, I was captured by this woman.
Then I remember sitting with this woman on our boat dock, looking out over the water, no wind to ruffle the lake, the water still, flat, shimmering, the setting sun casting orange and red shades through the fragments of clouds.
Then I remember seeing her clutching and nuzzling our first grandchild after his baptism, I remember her kissing his head. I remember her holding her second grandchild and smiling and then taking the third in her arm for the first time.
Then I remember gliding along a small dance floor. Marty sat straight in her wheelchair and said she wanted to dance, so we danced, in a fashion, we danced at our daughter’s wedding.
Then I remember her sitting at the front of our church with Jimmie’s face next to her reciting the charge at the Christmas service. Jimmie would speak, Marty would speak, and I remember, every word, every phrase.
Then I remember her broken smile, her stubborn laugh at our stupid behavior, her questions, her statements, her requests, her courage, her determination, her patience, her love for her children and her love for me.
Then I remember her saying, “I love you”.
Then I know our good memories are still being built.