Monday, February 3, 2014

A jolly holiday with Mary.

When Mary holds your hand, you feel so grand
Your heart starts beatin' like a big brass band

~ from the movie "Mary Poppins"

I saw these two Grady elders in the clinic not long ago. They had been married for over sixty years and had known one another since they were school children. Every time they come to the clinic, they are dressed with such meticulous intention--no, not dressed up per se. But never, ever with that look of just "throwing something on."

My guess is that it mostly has to do with Mrs. Mary. She's the one who always has the medication lists written out in her wobbly cursive and who pulls out pocket Kleenex whenever her husband sneezes or gets those leaky eyes of his.

Oh. Those leaky eyes of his? They always come when I ask about Mrs. Mary. Even though I've asked several times before, I always ask it again. "What's the secret to staying together and happy for this long?"

I used to just query about the blueprint for simply staying together. But later I tacked on the "and happy" part because there's a difference.

So, on this day, I asked again. And like always they looked at one another first, and smiled. He always holds his hand out and gestures for her to speak before him. Not just with this question, but in all things that render some sort of opinion. He has one. But for these years he's gotten accustomed to allowing her to walk through the door first.

She shrugged her shoulders and then squinted her eyes as if I'd never asked them that before.

"Jest love each other, I s'pose," she said. "And pray."

And do you know what he said? The same thing he always says.

"Just marry someone like my Mary. Thass all." And then come those leaky eyes.

In my head, I heard the first few bars of this song immediately playing on my mental iPod that day. . .

Ain't it a glorious day?
Right as a mornin' in May?
I feel like I could fly
Have you ever seen the grass so green?
Or a bluer sky?

Well after they'd been discharged, I couldn't get it out of my head for the rest of the session.

I saw them through the window out in front of Grady when I was wrapping up the end of our morning clinic. Standing side by side and talking to one another. They weren't holding hands or locked elbow to elbow. Just shoulder to shoulder. Then a car pulled up next to the curb and a middle-aged fellow who favored them jumped out to open up the door for them. He was hustling over to grab their coats and bags and his hazard lights were blinking. Even though Mary's husband used a four-prong cane to walk and Mrs. Mary was more agile on her feet, he made that same gesture.

Her first.

But this time she grabbed his hand tightly and walked right beside him. But once they reached the car, she did oblige him. She slid into the back seat first, and then scooted over to help him as he came in behind her. And then they drove away.

First I thought what I always think in times like this:  

Now this? This is Grady. The Grady I love.

But as I watched that car turn the corner and disappear from sight, I thought this, too:

No wonder it's always Mary that he loves.

Happy Monday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . sorry in advance for this playing in your head all day long.


  1. And my take-away from this is- to enjoy what you can enjoy together before the options become so much more limited. Because they will and they do.

  2. I went to the funeral of a friend yesterday who'd grown so old and tired of life it was a joy to think of him in heaven. Even his widow said so. Several couple friends from long ago came to the funeral also. Afterward, standing with them and talking I felt so blessed to be surrounded and accepted by them even after my marriage failed so miserably.It is wonderful to see people who still love after decades of trials and difficulties and joys and blessings. It's just so natural.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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