University of Nevada, Reno

 

HOMESTORIESLOVE STORIES

 

Expressions of Love

By Paula

 

PaulaA few years ago while waiting in a doctor’s office for my routine mammogram, I thumbed through the pages of Women’s Home Journal until an article of interest caught my eye. It was a Valentine’s Day contest where the editor interviewed several women. The theme was, “What was the most romantic thing your husband ever did for you?”

 

One wife told about a ski trip to Aspen where they made love in a heart-shaped Jacuzzi surrounded by scented candles; another told how her husband blindfolded and led her to their driveway where a brand new Mercedes wrapped in a gigantic bow awaited her, and a third told how her mate put a diamond and amethyst heart-shaped locket from Tiffany’s in a chocolate cake. Amethyst was her birthstone. And I thought wryly, “Lucky she didn’t swallow it!” But I began to wonder how I would answer that question.

 

Several weeks later, while awaiting my mammogram results, the phone rang. My husband picked up the receiver and a worried frown appeared on his face. “What? It can’t be … not my wife, she’s as healthy as a horse! It must be a mistake.” As he replaced the phone in its cradle, he turned to me with a tear in his eye. “Oh, baby, I’m so sorry … It was the hospital. They found a lump on your left breast and they want you to come in for further testing tomorrow morning.” I sank down on the bed, my face ashen. “I just began to live and now I’m gonna die!” He took me in his arms as I wept openly. “Oh, no baby, I’m sure it’s just a precautionary measure … it’s most likely benign.”

 

Paul accompanied me to the hospital and I was given a battery of tests, one more painful than the next. Impatiently, he poked his head through the door and the doctor allowed him to enter as he expressed an interest in watching the monitor I was hooked up to. I squeezed my eyes shut from the pain, and as she kneaded me like a lump of dough, she explained the procedure. When I opened my eyes, my husband was standing over me, a worried expression on his handsome face. I felt a slight pressure on my toes; Paul was massaging my feet. When I realized he was trying to divert my attention elsewhere so I wouldn’t concentrate on the pain, I began to relax.

 

Paul was right, the tumor was benign and suddenly I knew how I would answer the question in the magazine. Maybe I didn’t receive diamonds or cars, but I did get LOVE.

 

Two weeks before our twentieth wedding anniversary, I told him about the magazine article and he bristled. “You know I can’t afford fancy new cars or diamonds and I know how much you hate skiing.” “But I wanna do something special,” I whined. “Okay, honey, I’ll think of something, I promise.”

 

A few days before our anniversary, which happened to be New Year’s Day, he came home with FIVE EMPTY CARTONS! I peered into each box anxiously and pouted like a spoiled child. “They’re empty!” He grinned that mischievous grin I fell in love with. “Oh yeah? Well, you must have missed this.” He produced a map of California. “Oh, goody, we’re taking a trip to California.” “No, not exactly … we’re moving there.” I was stunned. “But I, you HATE California!” “True but I LOVE you!”

 

We settled in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and remained there for two years. I reunited with my son, who by this time was a comedy writer known for “Friends,” and eventually my daughter joined him.

 

I loved Paul all the more for knowing for years I’d been kept from my children, and now we were able to rekindle our affection and love. When my estranged ex-mother-in-law, their grandmother, who practically raised them, passed away, I was thankful I was there to comfort them. When my son broke up with his girlfriend of five years and his pilot was cancelled, my shoulder was available for Jeff to lean on.

 

And on the holiest day, Yom Kippur, I was at a synagogue with both children smiling as I watched my son Jeff lay his head gently against my right shoulder, dozing off as Liz fell asleep on my left, the way they did when they were little. I squeezed my eyes shut, thanking God for giving Paul the discernment of knowing my yearning to unite with them.

 

Continue This Story