Friday, December 18, 2015

Mick McKellar Update -- Day + 1761

For Better and For Worse

I suppose we all think the years will be better when we marry, and don't really consider the worse side of the equation. When I married my best friend December 18, 1971, I knew there would be bad days—everyone gets ill, everyone gets angry, everyone gets tired and cranky and sad—for a day or two.

Married life was no picnic for Marian because of my short sojourns aside for a vascular migraine, for cataract surgeries, for various and sundry cases of pneumonia, for skin cancer surgery, for breast cancer surgery (benign), and for removal of a malfunctioning gall bladder. However, her biggest test came in May, 2010 as a suspected problem with my blood sugar levels suddenly blossomed into leukemia.

I was in good shape when we married. We had four healthy and intelligent children and things were good, despite the usual problems with jobs and moving and life in general. So we were looking forward to our retirement, making plans and setting dates, when my 17+ year job at Michigan Tech suddenly ended without warning in 2004. For six more years, as I struggled to rebuild both career and retirement funds, Marian was supportive and encouraging, especially as the flood of rejection letters continued to accumulate.

Then blood cancer changed everything. Through it all, my best friend weathered every test with me, even the ones that left me screaming in hospital beds until morphine stopped the pain. For over five years, she has spent countless hours in waiting rooms, hospital rooms, and emergency rooms. I've lost count of how many crossword puzzle books she has filled while waiting for me. She watched while my medical expenses devoured our retirement plans. She learned sterile procedures to change bandages. She stood quietly by when massive doses of steroids made me mean and chemotherapy made me sick. She held me close as I lay in bed, shaking and shivering, wondering if I would wake in the morning.

Now, as my lungs are failing, she does the heavy lifting and snow shoveling. Marian knows exactly when I need a helping hand and exactly when to tell me to shut up and shut down the pity party. After 44 years, she is still the love of my life and the best part of us. 

I am a lucky man.