Irma has a Cornea Transplant

Irma also has glaucoma as well as macular degeneration. A little over a year ago she underwent a cornea transplant in one eye due to the glaucoma. You would expect a person with these problems to have a multitude of complaints. Not my Irma. She has taken each of these problems without a whimper. She now reads with the use of eyeglasses as thick as Coke bottle bottoms. Everything beyond a few feet is blurred. That does not stop her.

Before her Cornea transplant we would be playing golf. Even from 10 yards from the pin I would need to aim her. She really had zero depth or distance control but you would never know. I know I have perfect eyesight and I get frustrated, but not Irma. She is an amazing human being.

Over the years we have both had our sick or injured trials and tribulations. Once I crushed a few of my vertebrae and some ribs. Another time I had a ruptured appendix. Of course we all get the flu and colds. Irma has had four children and a couple of operations. Through it all you learn to cope with these things. You must copy your wife and treat her as she has treated you. It’s the time for the extra loving care that makes a happy marriage a long-lasting one.

Walking. The couple who walks together … stays together.

Does walking together sound boring to you?  It did to me before we started. Up until 1968 I was a very heavy smoker. After a few attempts I managed to quit. I calculated I had smoked 17 miles of cigarettes in my short life. At the rate I had been smoking it would have been a very short life indeed if I hadn’t succeeded. I had decided to quit at the end of the following week. I decided where I would have my last cigarette and where I would dispose of the remainder of the pack and my lighter. I would do this on a remote part of the highway on my way home. I would then arrive, claim I felt I was coming down with a bad cold and go directly to bed. I figured that if I could get three days under my belt without smoking, I would be cured on the fourth day. If so, I would never smoke again.

All went according to plan. I refused all food and only drank a few cups of coffee for three days. On the fourth day I declared to my family I would never smoke again. Forty years have passed and I have kept my word. I was one of the lucky ones.

The first evening at home without cigarettes was going to be a trying one. I suggested we all go for a walk. Irma and I and the four girls walked a mile. We were so excited I had to get in the car and drive down to where we had turned around and measure the distance. We carried our baby who was only two years old at the time. Because it was a dark area to walk, we all held hands. Irma and I have held hands for the forty years since that very first walk. It gives such a wonderful feeling of togetherness. We will hold hands as we go to sleep. In the early part of the morning as we struggle to become fully awake we often will hold hands. Irma is profoundly deaf without her hearing aids in her ears. It is through the touch of our hands that we communicate to say good morning and to wish each other a great day.

Walking is one of the best things you can do for your health. I can prove it to you. Here’s what to do. Get up in the morning and do your usual thing. After breakfast go for a brisk 30-minute walk. When you come home notice how good you feel, how warm you feel and how easy it is for you to go to the bathroom. When you walk, everything works. Every organ in your body does what it is made to do. Your heart pumps blood faster and your kidneys, lungs, liver and brain all work better because of the increase in the well-oxygenated blood supply. The great news is that you have burned off a good amount of calories. Do that every day and you will reap huge benefits.

That’s the health part for the body.

Walking together with your wife is one of the best things you can do for your minds and your marriage. Take a look at these benefits you can derive from a daily walk with the woman you love:

1.     You spend quality time together. Time to talk, listen, and smell the roses. You communicate with the woman you love.

2.     Since you are holding hands you are able to feel connected as never before. You begin to think as one. The pace you set will allow more oxygenated blood to flow to your brain and other organs and this allows you to think better and more calmly.

3.     Now that everything is working and you are communicating on all eight cylinders you give yourselves the level table for discussing problems you may have or directions you may be considering in your marriage path. These are important items to clarify. Planning should result in unanimous decisions every time.

4.     Of course, deep discussions needn’t be the sole purpose of your walk. Enjoy the fresh air, the neighborhood, and your surroundings. We rarely pick the same area to walk day after day. One day we will go to a park west of the city. The next we may walk in our community. If it rains we go to the mall. We go early before they open for business. Other mall walkers will be out in force on those days. Once in a while we will walk on the treadmill in our community centre; however, we prefer outside. We look for variety.

You should see from these highlights that I am suggesting that the path to a long-lasting marriage is full of potholes. Just like the streets in the spring of the year. By filling these potholes with things like walks, breakfasts out, holding hands and intimate moments the path will even out and your marriage will be all the better.

And we think we have problems.

Let’s back up a little here. I enjoyed the navy. It was a great life for a single guy. Sailing to different ports around the world and experiencing the various cultures, religions and people and makes you realize just how fortunate we who live in North America really are. There are countless poor people around the world. I saw people who would come aboard asking for our garbage we scraped from our dinner plates. There were parents who sold their daughters as prostitutes to make a few dollars on which to live.

In Haiti, a father and his eight-year-old son rowed their flimsy, leaky little eight-foot excuse for a boat out to our ship every day for a solid week to paint the black tar along our ships waterline. Their pay? A carton of cigarettes and all of the garbage they wanted.

On their last day, they had an unfortunate accident. While the garbage container was being lowered to them in their little boat, the rope broke from the weight and it crashed down on them, narrowly missing the boy and smashing the boat in two. They were left swimming but as we watched, the young fellow grabbed onto a piece of moldy bread and placed it in his mouth. This made me count my blessings.  I believe the countries of North America are still some of the best countries of the world in which to live.

Because I enjoyed the navy and kept my nose clean (didn’t get into trouble) I was quickly promoted. I must have impressed the higher ups because just after passing my three-year mark, I was called to the captain’s cabin and offered what was an amazing career change. If I was interested, the navy would send me to England for four years of university education whereby upon completion, I would be commissioned as a lieutenant. I would first spend a year in school at our base in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The only catch was that I couldn’t marry until I returned.

I was totally head-over-heels in love with Irma. We had just become engaged. What if someone else stole her from me while I was away? I talked it over with her. She insisted on me making the decision. I thought it over very hard. I thought of all of the benefits that we would have if I chose the navy. The financial side including a great pension later certainly looked rosy.

You must make tough decisions in life.

I then looked at Irma and I asked myself a question, ‘What would I give to have her next to me for one moment, one week, one month or four years?’  You know the answer to the question of whether I went for it or not don’t you?  There was no contest, my love for her won.

Now 50 years have passed us by. I now look back and wonder what would have happened to us and our family. Financially, life would have been better, of that there is no question. Would we have been happier? No! You see, living with Irma, even for one moment, is like living with an absolute angel. She simply is the finest, most beautiful lady on earth. Every waking moment with her by my side is the most wonderful experience ever. I would not trade one moment with her for anything mankind could dream up in the form of a reward or treasure.

Equally important is the reality of what our four beautiful daughters have meant to us. Our friendship is, and always has been, as solid as gold. They are unique in their own way. Each so very special to us, let alone what they contribute to the world at large. We think of the love they have given to us.  They are certainly a credit to their chosen professions and are loved equally well by their partners in life. What a terrible loss it would have been to us and to their friends to not have known them.

As it turned out, we have had an amazing, loving friendship with our girls. They not only are our daughters but our friends and have brought three wonderful grandchildren into our world as well. What more could we have asked for?

In life we reach the gate of many decisions, where you are completely on your own. A point where you alone must use whatever good judgment your parents and life have taught you. I was so very lucky to have made the right decision. 

We never had it easy once I returned to civilian life. Through it all Irma has been by my side helping out in every way possible.

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