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“HOW MANY times have I kissed my Elizabeth?” he said joyously at their 60th wedding anniversary. “Let me see,” was what he wanted to say as he scratched his head: “Four times a day – seven days a week — three hundred and sixty-five days a year, for sixty years. Everyone laughed and cheered as he continued multiplying the number of kisses, ”87,360 kisses!”
His Elizabeth looked radiant and flattered as she caught the compliments like a bouquet of flowers thrown by a new bride. Two accomplished and attractive people basking in the adoration of their many friends. He was a retired university professor and she was a gifted portrait artist. They gave off a polished patina of success, both in their professional and personal lives.
So it was a great shock to hear the news that this beloved couple, now in their 90s, had suffered strokes within days of each other.
Although she was paralyzed he was able to walk. She was confined to the hospital across the road from their home and he visited his “girl” every day.
One day on my way to a meeting at the hospital, down the corridor, I heard a whimper. When I glanced into the dark room it was difficult to see where the whimper was coming from.
But there was Elizabeth lying flat in her bed. Sitting on the chair by her bedside, his head hanging over the protective bed railing, sobbing, was her husband. “How many times have I kissed my girl . . .”