I have written about my wife, Marty’s, Alzheimer’s Disease several times. This is another. It was unplanned and spontaneous, triggered by the unique world she and I have come to share together.
I was trying to write something but I was stuck in “neutral.” No pencil scratching, no pen sliding, no keyboard clicking. Then Marty came in and stood there just looking at me and not saying anything. I smiled at her and said, “What’s going on?”
She shakes her head and says, “I really do not feel like going to work tomorrow.” (She has not worked in almost ten years.)
I nonchalantly reply, “Okay, then don’t.”
“Larry, please don’t start with me. You know I have bills to pay.”
“Well then, I’ll call in for you. I’ll tell them you are not feeling good.”
She quickly throws a curve at me. I back away, surprised at the sudden diversion. Raising her voice, she says, “We had better get a few things straight. I have standards and I am not going to be living in sin. I cannot be living here if we are not married.”
I did not know what that had to do with her ‘job” but I mentally bobbed and weaved and circled around. Quickly I said, “We are married.”
She was stunned. She stared at me and I stared back. A moment passed and she said, “We are?”
“Yes, Marty, we have been married for ten years.”
“I suppose you know this for a fact? How can you be sure?”
“We have the papers to prove it.”
I quickly said an emergency “Hail Mary” asking for help. God knew I was in over my head and immediately sent one of His special people. Maybe it was St. Therese or St. Joseph or maybe St. Martha. I really did not care who it was but just like that I had a “thought.” (These folks do not fool around when sent on a mission.)
I had her sit down on the sofa and wait for me. I headed back to my “office” (some may call it a man-cave) and began rifling through the file cabinet in the corner. The top drawer is stuffed with all sorts of “important” papers and I knew that somewhere amongst the mass of disorganized stuff was our marriage license. I started scratching away, peeling papers apart.
I did not keep track of the time but when I looked at the mess of papers I had strewn about it must have been fifteen minutes. Then I hit pay dirt. I found our marriage license. I was sure this would prove to her once and for all that we were, in fact, married.
I hurried back to the sofa and to the woman who immediately asked if I had just gotten home. “Yes,” I shouted. “And look what I have.”
The Pinellas County Marriage License was too confusing for her to understand. The print was small and even though our names were legible and the paper was emblazoned with the words, “Marriage Record,” it did not convince her. I realized she needed “Catholic” proof. That was why she had used the words “living in sin.” Now we come to why I wrote this in the first place.
I slowly headed back to the file cabinet to put the marriage license away. But I had not noticed when pulling the marriage license out that behind it was the 8 X 11 marriage certificate that the church had given us. It was behind the license the whole time. I could not believe it.
It was not a legal document but it was a BEAUTIFUL CATHOLIC document. It had our names on it. On the left side was a Cross with connected wedding bands connected to it. The church’s name was there and it was signed by the deacon and the pastor. It was also perfect for framing.
I had an 11 x 14 frame that was unused. Ten minutes later I brought it out to her. I had her sit next to me on the sofa. “Are you ready?” I asked.
I held this framed certificate up in front of her. She stared and stared at it and then she looked at me and began to cry. She put her head on my shoulder and cried some more. We have used the Hail Mary and the Rosary to help us over some rough Alzheimer’s moments. This time the purely Catholic marriage document was the answer to the prayer. It now hangs in the Florida room and she can see it every day anytime she needs to. Damn—I love being Catholic.
Copyright 2017 Larry Peterson