So when I posted about “marrying the man I love, but married into the life I love”, I found out that, yes, people like my recipes, but they seem to want to read about the ingredients of my life. While I still have many more recipes in me, I will oblige and post more about our somewhat out-of-the-ordinary life.
So, here is an expansion of a previous post:
Most people associate a rancher with cows, horses and ropes. I did, especially when I was 17 years old and a city girl.
Even though I lived in Helena, Montana, I was as “citified” as any city girl could be.
So when I determined that this handsome guy, David, was going to be my next boyfriend, I soon discovered that “citified”– he was not.
I knew that he wore cowboy boots, which most of the other boys did not. I knew that he liked country music, which I did not. I also knew that he worked hard most every day, which the other boys and I both did not.
David lived a different life than I did. I knew very little about cows, horses and wheat and barley. David seemed to know everything about the aforementioned. We would go check on the cows that needed watering during the hot summer months. He would arrive at my house with the water truck and we would wind our way up into the gulch until we got to the spot where we would open the spigot to fill the rusty trough. He would then proceed to tell me the history of each of the cows and heifers that we were watching. (Never mind that I had no clue what a heifer and a steer was and never fessed up until many years into our marriage. I eventually put two and two together through observation.)
Later in that summer, we would take his 1972 Pontiac Ventura down to north side of the ranch where I would watch him flood irrigate a portion of what they called the section hayfield. As I batted the mosquitoes, David trudged through the soggy soil with shovel and dam in hand, looking at the lay of the land and the gravity pull of the water flow to estimate where the dam needed to be placed across the ditch. If you aren’t following what I am describing, then you are likely as ignorant about farming and irrigation as I was. I could explain more, but it might be easier if you read here about “flood irrigation” to see about this age-old skill.
But if you find this all to be quite boring, you are not like I was. Or, at least there is no leading man in the picture to draw you into the story. For me, not only was it interesting, but the leading man was a handsome cowboy to boot.
By the summer’s end, I had decided that this boyfriend that I chose in May, was a cowboy that I had grown to love. I even remember the day that I decided that it was he that I loved. And where it happened.
It was not as we gazed at a picturesque Montana sky, nor when we rode on horseback into the fading sunset. David did not even like to ride horses– that fantasy faded in childhood when cows were moved miles away to mountain pasture and horses was the best way to make it happen. No, riding horses- though a dreamy pursuit to me- was at the bottom of David’s “things I like to do” list.
Nope, it was none of those. It was a day when I watched him flood irrigate that hayfield. Like a bolt of lightning— it was not. Nor was it a flood of emotion that stole my senses or enveloped my heart.
More like a moment of truth. A moment when I realized that David was who I wanted and his life was the life I wanted to live. It was a realization that this 17 year old farmer possessed a work ethic and maturity that made my respect morph into a love that would eventuate into marriage.
And marriage it did become, in the summer of 1975.
So as the nursery rhyme goes, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage. We soon had three children, a dog and a “home on the range.”
Now as life goes, sometimes you hit a curve. In 1991, when David was finishing the wheat harvest, a pervasive numbness that began in his feet soon turned into a piercing pain in his back. Within 5 days, he went from a strapping 35 year old farmer, to a complete T-11 paraplegic. What began as a frightening ride to the local emergency room eventually ended with a 6 week stay in the hospital. With a diagnosis of temporary paralysis called Guillian Barre‘ (what we now know was incorrect), we went home to expect a gradual return of his motor and sensory function.
A “return” that never returned.
So, the truth is: medicine is an art, not science. Neurology is sometimes a practice of guessing what lab work cannot accurately define. David’s paralysis diagnosis proved NOT to be temporary, but instead, permanent. It was called something we had never heard of: Transverse Myelitis.
So cry, we did. Lament, we did. Our prayers were a combination of crying and lamenting. And the return we received was not what we hoped for. For indeed, the paralysis remained and the eventual diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis added insult to injury. My faith in my God was tripped by this painful repeat of my own history; for my own father’s life was cut short to 45 years by this same disease. I had to press in to regain my faith; trust and lean on God, a God who made heaven and earth – yet who allowed MS to assault our lives.
As I write this, I ponder the evolution of the last 20 years since “David sat down”. We raised our three kids. They have married and produced grandkids for us to adore. We have built a wheelchair accessible home that is above any or all dreams that I would have dreamt. We often lie in bed at night and say to each other how good our life is. Gratefulness has often been the antidote to the self pity that creeps in when we face any new challenges or defeats.
But so far, 38 years since our wedding day, we continue to live and love in Montana. And, because God has kept us, we have remained faithful to each other and to Him.
More to come– why my “cowboy rides a tricycle”