My parents were married almost 50 years when my dad passed away.
That is quite an achievement in and of itself these days and, believe it or not, my father and mother seemed to be closer than ever after 50 years of marriage.
That may not always be the case…
My dear friends Dugie and Marie have been married over 50 years, and they are as close as can be as well… but… given the chance?
Let me explain.
My friend Dugie is very active… and very unlucky… because he has logged more time in hospitals than everyone else I know put together. In fact, I need to call the phone number so much, I have his hospital on speed-dial… and that’s not a joke.
Accident prone? Dugie has been accidently shot in a hunting accident… tossed against the rocks and almost killed while scuba diving… been badly bitten by a German Shepherd… stabbed when he worked as a Court Officer… had his leg crushed in a boating mishap … and was knocked unconscious numerous times.
He also had two open heart surgeries, several stents, suffered 5 broken ankles, a broken collarbone, God-only-knows how many stitches, and a multitude of other injuries, wounds, diseases, operations and procedures far too numerous to mention.
Dugie even caught the Bird Flu when he was cleaning an old nest out of a birdhouse and slipped into a coma for several days.
Who the hell catches the Bird Flu?
It was actually touch-and-go for a while.
And when he finally awoke I was waiting there by his bedside… like a good friend… along with a 10-lb. bag of birdseed… Just in case he wanted a snack.
Dugie was only strong enough to murmur a solitary word… “Asshole.”
“Ha ha ha.”
Anyway, one day… and this could only happen to Dugie… a bee somehow flew up his nose and stung him. Don’t ask me how.
Needless to say, Dugie was highly allergic to bee stings.
Who would have guessed?
Once again, he was starting to slip into yet another coma and asked his wife of over 50 years to once again rush him to the emergency room because there wasn’t enough time to call an ambulance.
The way Dugie tells it, Marie was in no big hurry to get him there… and he’s lucky that he only lives a mile and a half away from the hospital!
After taking her sweet time to change her outfit, Marie helped Dugie out to the car, then spent a few minutes casually putting on make-up in the rearview mirror.
“Let’s go, Marie!”
“I’m going, I’m going. Hold your horses.”
From what I understand, during the short drive, Marie drove at approximately the same speed as those massive crawlers that are used to transport rockets carrying the Space Shuttle to their launching pad… and, if you are not familiar with these gargantuan Modern Marvels, there’s a very good reason they call them ‘crawlers.’
As they approached an intersection, I hear that Marie came to a full stop as soon as the traffic light turned yellow.
“What the hell are you doin’, Marie? Will you hurry-up and get me to the damn hospital!”
“I don’t want to get a ticket, Dugie. Don’t be so selfish!”
“Selfish?… It’s an emergency, Marie! I’m dying!”
“Ohhhh, it’s always got to be about you, Dugie… my bleeding leg… my broken bone… my heart attack… my death… Me, me, me.”
I’m told that, when she finally got the green light, the cars lined-up behind her in traffic had to honk their horns repeatedly to get Marie to move.
“Relax! Why is everyone in such a hurry these days?”
“Come on, Marie! If you don’t pick-up the pace, I’m not going to make it!”
“Ya, ya, ya…”
Shortly thereafter, she slowed and waved-on some pedestrians who were waiting to cross the street… including an elderly woman with a walker… even though Marie had the right of way.
“What the hell are you doing, Marie? I’m starting to lose consciousness! Step on it!”
(Under her breath) “At least it will be quiet in here.”
(turning up his hearing aide) “What was that Marie?”
“I said, ‘We’re almost there’.”
Then she graciously let a car cut in front of her that was trying to pull into traffic.
“Go ahead… (to herself) What’s this guy doing now?… No, no, you go. It’s OK, no rush… You’re welcome!”
Dugie said weakly, “Move it, Marie, I’m fading fast.”
That’s about the time she stopped to get gas.
Over the course of the mile and a half drive, Marie apparently pulled-over three times to ask for directions… once, according to Dugie, specifically asking for “the way to the farthest hospital.”
Now Dugie muttered feebly, “Marie, just go to the emergency entrance and give the car to the valet parkers.”
She said, “No way, Dugie! They’ll want me to tip them and I’m saving my money for something important.”
Barely speaking above a whisper now, Dugie wheezed, “What can be more important than this, Marie?”
“Ohhh… You’d be surprised, I have a list.”
Well, despite Marie’s best efforts, Dugie survived… but not before lying unconscious for several days.
Another day, another coma… ho hum.
And when Dugie finally came out of his stupor… like a good friend, once again … I was waiting patiently at his bedside… this time holding a biiiiiig jar of honey.
And, somehow, Dugie found the strength to softly utter but a single word… “Asshole.”
Hey, what can I say?… That’s what friends are for!