A Marriage Observed

I see them every Monday morning at the gym: a tiny little couple, some flavor of Asian, wrinkled, ancient, moving carefully. He is no bigger than she, though she appears to have retreated into the silence and confusion which claimed my own grandfather. First, they walk. Four or five painstaking laps on the track suspended around and above the basketball courts. They walk close together, touching; he grips the webbed belt which he carefully fastened around her waist–to prevent her from pitching over the railing to the floor below? Or merely to steady her uncertain steps? I don’t know. But he keeps the belt firmly in hand.

I finish my own walk, aware of her blank gaze following me from her seat at the side of the weightroom, where she rests before continuing the workout. I move to the leg curl machine, and then to leg extensions. They are back to work, right next to me, with a pretty girl (a daughter? a health aide?) assisting the tiny breath of woman to climb onto a back-press machine. She sits on the seat, her back pressed to the pad of the moving arm behind her. Her husband stands behind the machine. He gathers himself to help with the exercise. He chants words my ears do not sort out, obviously counting. He pulls the arm back. The aide pushes on the woman’s shoulders. All together, they press the arm back and hold.

I think to myself, “What perseverance it must require for him to daily give exercise to this silent person who must have once been his companion and conversation partner. What an example of ‘in sickness and in health.'”

And then, the miracle. As they all hold together, her back pressed back, her face uptilted, his eyes gazing down upon her, this dignified Asian man, leans forward and drops a loud kiss upon her mouth: “MWAH!”

They release the lift, and she sits forward again. Once again, he counts, they pull and push and swing back. Once again, the kiss–“MWAH!” Eight or ten repetitions they do; each time, the hold, the kiss, the MWAH that says, “This is not a chore for me. I still delight in you. You are my bride, and I don’t care who’s watching.”

If one can see God’s fingerprints, surely they can be seen here, in the gym, every Monday morning.

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1 Comment

  1. Joan DeWindt said,

    January 1, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    This one brought tears to my eyes. I can still see Grandma carefully reading the combination to the lock to the Alzheimer’s unit from a little piece of paper while she punched in the numbers. The unit was to keep dad in a safe place, but it never stopped her from sharing his life with him daily. When she promised “til death do us part” she meant to keep that promise and she did.
    Love, Aunt Joan


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