Skip to main content

In Sickness and In Health

“I, Kathleen, take you, Stuart, …for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health…” And with those words, I married a songbird.

Stuart whistles. He is cheerful and contented and he whistles. I hear his car hum into the driveway in the evening after work and he whistles his way up the walk and into the house. The house is happier when he’s home.

But one week he didn’t. One week there was no whistling. Stuart was scheduled for simple outpatient surgery. We formulated Plan A. The kids and I would drop him off at six in the morning and pick him up when the nurse called to say that he was ready to come home. There was no Plan B.

The phone rang around eleven. “Your husband is out of surgery. He’ll be ready to come home in about an hour.”

I packed the kids in the car for the second time that morning and made the return trip to the hospital. We tiptoed in to pick up our charge. The nurse tried to help Stuart to his feet. He almost passed out and had return to the bed.

“It will just be a few more minutes. You can wait in the waiting area if you like.”

John and Lauren and I sat together in a big chair. Waves of nausea washed over me. I was newly pregnant with our third child. I felt sick when I ate and sick when I didn’t. A sweet nurse pulled blankets from the warmer and held them up to the children’s faces so they could snuggle in their warmth.

Stuart’s nurse came out. “I don’t know why you brought those children with you! He’s going to be here a while. Every time we try to get him up his blood pressure drops.”

We waited.

The cranky nurse fought with the doctor who said, “I’ve never admitted a patient overnight for hernia surgery and I’m not going to start with this one.”

“Well, sir, you’re going to have to let this man stay. He’s in no shape to go home.”

The nurse won. I was grateful for her tenacity.

The kids and I returned home. I wandered around in a fog and put lunch on the table. Stuart’s sister called. “How’s he doing?”

“Not very well. His blood pressure kept dropping. He’ll be at the hospital over night.”

She shared Stuart's medical history with me." It's the anesthesia. He always responds like that to anesthesia. When he had his wisdom teeth out, he slept for two whole days.”

(Stuart has a terrible memory. Leave it to him to forget something like this!)

“Are you doing OK? Do you mind if I pray with you?” His sister started to pray. There was such comfort as those words came over the phone that I cried for the first time that day.

The next morning a friend called to check on us. I told her our story and she offered to take the kids while I made another trip to the hospital.

“Is there anything you feel like eating?” she asked before we hung up.

My pregnant body had definite likes and dislikes. I took mental stock of her pantry. “A peanut butter and fluff sandwich would be wonderful.”

I dropped off the kids and picked up a lunch that her husband had put together. Two peanut butter and fluff sandwiches. Heaven. I drove and ate and basked in their kindness.

This time Stuart was ready to come home. We made our way slowly to the car. I helped him into the passenger side and drove slowly over the speed bumps. As I steered around potholes and slowed down for bumps, Stuart told me about his night.

“As soon as they laid me flat, I felt so much better…My roommate was a young guy in for hip replacement surgery. He had a rough night. Turns out he’s an alcoholic and was having DTs. They had to strap him down and hold him still so that he wouldn’t destroy the repair they had just made. He screamed all night. I couldn’t sleep. I just laid there and prayed. I was glad that I was the one that they put him with.”

I helped Stuart into the house and into bed. The kids came home but the house was so quiet. The kids sat on the sofa and read. I pushed them on the swing in the backyard. We went in and made dinner together and ate at a quiet table. Stuart was home but something was missing. The whistling. I couldn’t believe how much I missed his whistling.

For three days, the house was filled with an unnatural silence. There was kid noise...and yelling. Mine. Pull yourself together, Kate. It’s your turn to be the caregiver here. You promised. Calm returned and so did the silence.

On the fourth day, Stuart puttered around the house. He made his way out to the living room. He lay on the sofa and read to the kids. He wandered out in the kitchen to visit with me and he whistled. The cheery sound filled every room. It felt like the sun had risen in my heart once again.

Visit Fruit in Season for more discussion on the basics of marriage.


Lynn said…
What an absolute precious and beautiful story. I love your husband and his whistling.

Thank you for sharing your family with me today. I am so glad I stopped in for a visit.
Lizzie said…
Hello Scribbler :)

A lovely story. I remember nursing my husband through that phase with glandular fever and though I hadn't yet found faith I remember thinking, this normally put-together and strong man needs a little nurturing. It was a LONG stretch, LOL. I'm blessed with a strong constitution I guess and am rarely sick, as are any of the children, but ever since that winter with the glandular fever, DH's immune system has dribbled down to virtually nil - he catches every cold, flu and bug of EVERY season. In a two year stretch (beginning a year after the GF), he managed to get tonsilitis seven times! And has had it at least twice more since then.

I've never been more thankful for antibiotics in my entire life, LOL.

Faith said…
What a beautiful story! And how fun to see a pic of you and your man. :)
Beautiful story, Kate. I always find it much easier to be the one who needs to be cared for, rather than being the caregiver (sad but true). R is much more patient & caring than I.

R whistles some, too. I enjoy it myself. Your house must be so cheerful!

Love your picture. You're a handsome couple!

Blessings, friend.
Beautiful Kate!

Great picture too. :)

I am the same way. Your R and my Stuart sound as though they are cut from the same cloth.

Alana said…
My Dad was a whistler. He had his own tune that he made up and we always knew when he was whistling that one that he was happy and content.
Christin said…
I'm teary eyed over here. Crazy. :)
I cry at any wedding. Perfect strangers saying their vows? I will faithfully cry. I can't help it. I love watching God unite two people. *shrug*
I guess this just touched that part of my heart...the part where you LIVE out the vows. So sweet.
Mary@notbefore7 said…
In tears now, I am reminded of the beauty of God's plan for marriage! It is such a perfect plan and it is so awesome to see how it plays out when two people commit to living out those vows. Great story!
Christine said…
I always feel like I'm right there with you when you paint your "pictures" with words. Beautiful illustration of your vows.
Jan & Tom said…
I'm so glad I stopped here to read your blog! Thanks for sharing your precious story!! Many blessings to you...


I'm telling you...we are made to be friends! ;D
Sunydazy said…
Lovely story! And lovely picture...:-)
A pleasant evening to you.
Meg said…
Hi Kate. A nice story and a nice way to honor your hubby and the simple things he does that make your house a home! My Dad is a whistler too...he can make the coolest sound...just like a bird. I've been offline several days...Reading your blog is soothing. Praise the Lord. He is good. Nice to be back. Meg
Amy said…
Hi Kate,

LOVE the picture of you and your man!!! But it sure makes me homesick for ALL of you!

And you'd think after all that cryin' I did at WOF this weekend, I'd not have any left! Oh well, you know me better than that!

Kisses and Hugs to All,
Anonymous said…
Interesting, I heard that our Grandpa G was quite a whistler. Many folks who knew him have remarked to me about it. Love your story, I remember when it happened.


Popular posts from this blog

Spelling Wisdom

One day while skipping around the internet, I came across these:

And when I clicked on the sample, I knew we had to change spelling curriculums. Again. Goodbye Spelling Power and MacMillan and Sequential Spelling! We've found our true love.

The problem with the afore mentioned curricula is sheer boredom. Memorizing lists of words is mind numbing and as my children don't like their school work to lull them to sleep, they often push spelling to the side in favor of more exciting lessons.

When I found Spelling Wisdom, I realized what has been missing: an idea, something to engage the mind so that learning the difference between than and then occurs almost incidentally.

Sandra Shaffer uses the writings of famous men and women (Helen Keller, Beethoven, Winston Churchill...), Bible passages and quotes from quality literature...poems and novels (Robinson Crusoe, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, All the World's a Stage...) to teach more than six thousand frequently used word…

Cousins and Chaos

All of the people in all of these photos are family. Lots and lots of family. Not everyone is represented in these pictures but what's here will give you a good idea of what Thanksgiving week looked like. We were so busy with visiting and crowd control that we never thought to capture a photo of the whole group.

Until Death...

Kindred spirits, Anne would call them.  Two who complete each other, two who are together,  soul mates one cannot imagine apart.  I can count the kindred marriages I know on a couple of fingers and after last week, that count is down by one.

"You look so happy," Dave says as Stuart and I stand awkward and wordless before him.  I bend down to wrap my arms around him and wonder, Where is the good in this?  Where? A week before we bumped into Dave and his wife, Deb, down at the Famous Brands.  Deb glowed with good health and good news and for the remainder of the day we basked in the unexpected good fortune of meeting these old friends.  And now there is Dave minus Deb.  How can this be?
"It is one of the mysteries of our nature that a man, all unprepared, can receive a thunder-stroke like that and live."  Mark Twain's Own Autobiography
"You look so happy." We do not look happy but somehow this remark makes sense because Dave has loved with …