Thankful for love, lifelong marriage

Bill Duncan<br>


For the Capital Press

Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving. Although it is a movable feast, 59 years ago Thanksgiving was on Nov. 23. In 2009, Nov. 23 is this coming Monday, and for most it will be just another weekday.

Not for me. Monday is my 59th wedding anniversary. Before my marriage, I had just weeks earlier been recalled to the Marine Corps for the Korean conflict. So you might say it was a wartime marriage -- one of my older brothers told my mother it wouldn't last.

Thanksgiving in 2009 is on Thursday, Nov. 26. Regardless on what Thursday Thanksgiving falls on any calendar year, it is always special to me.

I have something to be thankful for: my wife, my soulmate, my best friend, the mother of my magnificent seven children, the grandmother of my 17 grandchildren and the great-grandmother of my seven great-grandchildren.

We are both journalists, therefore we think alike. In college she was my editor. Twice in the newspaper profession I have been her editor. Newspaper people are a breed all their own, therefore she understands my calling. Although every now and then when we are together at a party and she notices my inattention, she will punch me in the ribs and say, "Quit writing."

I guess I am backing into a column about love. Today there is a lot of talk about love, but judging by the number of failed marriages, it seems to me the talk is more about relationships than love.

St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians might well be the greatest words describing love:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes. Love never fails."

After 59 years of marriage, love to me means the one who stood by me for better or worse and in particular in sickness and health. It may come as a surprise to readers, but now in my 80s, I have had more than my share of buffeting from life, among them a diagnosis of terminal cancer during which I walked in the shadow of death.

The last buffeting came on the day after New Year's in 1997, when I suffered a major heart attack, so damaging that a cardiologist at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene, Ore., said I arrived there too late.

I walked out of that hospital after open-heart surgery refusing that same doctor's prescription for Prozac, because in his diagnosis I would be depressed during my surgical recovery. My Prozac came in the form of cards and letters, mainly from the readers of my column, urging me to get back to the typewriter. No medicine could have brought about a faster healing.

I saved each card and letter, which are now glued to the pages of a thick notebook. Every now and then, I take that notebook down from the bookshelf and re-read those messages that reinforce my resolve not to write "-30-" -- the old telegrapher's signal to end my column.

So come this Thanksgiving, the traditional feast takes on a deeper meaning. I have much for which to be thankful.

Bill Duncan can be reached by writing to P.O. Box 812, Roseburg, OR 97470.

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