“Someone to Watch Over Me” was a song composed by Gerge and Ira Gershwin in 1926. It appeared in the Broadway musical, Oh Kay! It has become what is known in the music biz as a “standard,” meaning one of those favorites you’ll always hear at big band concerts or simply in the lyrical mumblings from old folks conjuring up some nostalgia. It has been a very long-time favorite song of mine and certainly one that does not hide my age.
Meanwhile, over the past month I’ve had a partially fun time posting reports titled, “The Great Surgery Updates” dealing with some upcoming back surgery I was about to undergo. I treated it rather lightly, even made a few jokes about it. My wife felt totally the opposite.
First of all, Rosemarie is a retired nurse and has a tendency to worry about all things medical because she has seen practically all things medical, many of them bad, not to mention I am not a young man anymore. So my back surgery, which was already made complicated by several serious “side” issues, was enough to turn her pale and give her the shakes as we entered the hospital at 5:30 last Monday morning. I was concerned she would have a rough time making it through what we were told would be a 3-4 hour procedure, followed by at least one day in intensive care. Intensive care? Really? That serious? I told Rosemarie I was just showing off, going 1st class all the way. Then, while I was talking with the anesthesiologist in pre-op, I begged her to please immediately send someone to tell Rosemarie I was awake and okay the second the whole ordeal was over.
I confessed to my wife a few days later (Saturday), which was the really first good day I had since I left the ER, that I attempted to make light of the entire situation the past several weeks so as not to feed her worriment. Truth is, I was as bottled up inside with bad thoughts as she was, but I was not going to admit it to her. I told her that last Monday night I even began writing her a letter in the event something did go horribly wrong. But I had to abandon the effort. I was exhausted and my brain was oatmeal…and I hurt. I knew I did not have to explain to her how I feel about her and all that she has meant to me. We silently exchange those kinds of sentiments everyday in the looks we give each other; the minor bickering over things like each other’s decaying driving skills and those quick goodbye and hello kisses we still render before and after being apart. I figured there was nothing I could really say to her if something actually did go wrong. Our hearts would know how to handle it. We have been an ongong twosome since 1963–over that amount of time the communications between two people who really love each other is simply…organic. Words cannot convey the subtleties.
Weddng vows are a funny thing. “In sickness and in health” is always passed by unceremoniously and everyone holds their peace. I do not quite remember how that vow was emphasized at the time of our wedding ceremony, but it all worked out in the end and along with our marriage that particular vow has lasted 52 years. Today it is considered an extraordinary accomplishment if a marriage and all its vows survive intact for that many years. At the time Rosemarie and I did not consider our wedding vows to be challanges to be achieved. Instead, to us, they represented a solemn commitment made and not to be broken. Simple as that.
That is the culture in which we were raised. The concept was clear. It was in the things we read, the movies we watched and the songs we sang. Indeed, all these carried the messages and artists like George and Ira made them real, very real.
The song says it all. That is why Rosemarie is the last person I looked at before being rolled down the hall to the ER, and the first person I said “hi” to when I woke up. It was the end of over three years of pain and torment. As emotionally draining as this journey was, we each knew we got through it …because we each had someone watching over us.