I am a romantic. I know this because I wake up facing my wife. I think first of how wonderful it is that I am doing that and …the real progression of thought was, I woke up facing my wife and she facing me and she was beautiful. I thought of how she has not been able to lie on her right side facing me for a very long while and I remembered how much I loved it. I thought it cruel that we have actually worn out the some of the parts of our bodies we’ve used over and over again in some certain way and how the very way we have loved to lie could be taken away from us in time by pain and overuse. And I, too, have worn out the bits that made it so comforting to lie on my left side facing my wife of almost 40 years. Can it be that long? I count the decades off slowly and yes, it is very nearly 40 years we have lain like this. In that period of time a car would have had many new sets of shock absorbers, bouncing around Africa as much as we have, but our old parts have not been changed.I look at her feet. They are so lovely with her feminine shape and the colors of her toenails and her gentle hibiscus tattoo. Compared to my feet, which are just feet, they are elegant and turn just right in every way. I sit up, leaning on my elbow, and am surprised again at how beautiful she is. The shape of her face. The way she holds her mouth. All of the little things that can hardly be defined that make up the essence of her. Ah, her smooth skin. Then I remember how we have long suspected that it must actually be a gift from God that our eyes seem to go a bit softer at about the same rate our skin gets a bit more wrinkly. Is that all this is? Bad eye sight? No, she is beautiful and smooth to the touch. I kiss her on the cheek. She stirs and smiles in her sleep…. and grimaces from pain somewhere.
I love us.We have now been married for 38 years. We celebrated at a nice lunch with our MAF family and a few other friends here in Bunia. I could not go to the florist or a store selling nice woman type stuff. It is now a couple of days later and I fly to the forest at Nebobongo. It is a mission station airstrip cut out of huge trees, very narrow and green. It has just rained and feels lush. I walk up a muddy path to the house of the missionaries there and, after a lovely time drinking local coffee and eating German cakes, I start to leave. But first I walk over to the outhouse to drop off the coffee and am amazed at the wonderful forest flowers. They look like a hanging string of cooked lobster claws or colorful parrot beaks of bright red with yellow and green trim. There are also “roses porcelana” that we saw in the forests of Mozambique years ago when Cher and I thought we were being kidnapped for a while. I mention how beautiful they are and I am instantly offered as many as I want. I think Cher will really like them and they are so much more unusual than roses. I gladly take a hand full. Romance is always around, even thirty-eight years and a few days later and even if you have to work at it. In fact, the working makes it all the better.