A decision based on love, p.1
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       A Decision Based On Love, p.1

           Kristy Sawtelle
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A Decision Based On Love
A Decision Based On Love

  By Kristy Sawtelle

  Copyright 2012 Kristy Sawtelle

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  Chapter 1

  A single shard of sunshine was just peeking in the curtain when Shari opened her eyes for the first time. She stretched with a long lazy yawn. It felt wonderful to have a good night sleep. Especially on a day like today when she wanted to be full of energy. She was convinced that only those who had spent countless pain filled, sleepless nights could truly appreciate the simple joy of sleeping soundly. Shari woke up slowly, savoring those early morning thoughts and planning her day. She snuggled up against the back of her husband of 35 years. He grunted and pulled the covers up over his head so she kissed him on the back and got out of bed. It always took a few minutes of standing there to adjust to the hip pain. It was worse in the mornings and the first few steps of every day could be excruciating. That's one of the symptoms of severe hip arthritis. Hours of inactivity made joints stiffen up painfully.

  After a few minutes of walking around and stretching, her hip joint began to loosen up. The shooting pain lessened. She had felt worse. Perhaps today would be a good day.

  Shari knelt by her bed to begin her day with a prayer. Maybe it was because it was something she had done since childhood and maybe because prayers filled with gratitude always reminded her of how much she had to be happy about and started her day off in a positive way. When pain is your constant companion you need to be regularly reminded of the good things. Today especially, Shari was filled with a sense of overwhelming blessings. It was her 55 birthday and she knew that she had packed more joy into her 55 years of life than most people ever got to experience. She had been blessed, and if she wanted the good things to continue she better make sure and acknowledge every one of them.

  When she peeked up from her prayers her husband Todd was watching her with a slow, lazy grin. “Good morning beautiful,” he whispered, as he patted the bed beside him.

  Shari glanced over at the full length mirror on the wall and laughed out loud. How could he possibly call her beautiful? Her short blond hair had more gray than blond and it was sticking up in every direction. She could swear her skin looked wrinklier than it had yesterday and her hot pink baggy pajamas were as flattering as a neon potato sack. Still, Todd made her feel beautiful. He always had. He loved her more now than he had when she was young and pretty, and he told her every day. It wasn't just words either; he acted like he was the luckiest man on earth. Todd was definitely in that prayer of gratitude. Shari climbed back into their king size bed, wrapped her arms around him and snuggled up to his chest.

  “When are you going to give me my birthday presents?” she asked

  “What? Is it your birthday?” Todd feigned dismay. “I thought maybe now that we're getting older we would just be like those people who ignore birthdays and pretend they didn't happen.”

  “Nice try. I am the queen for the day and will be treated as such in every way. If you fail to meet my expectations I will be forced to withhold my affections.”

  Todd thought that was hilarious. “You couldn't withhold your affections if your life depended on it. You'd be all over me inside of 12 hours.”

  Shari was working on a scathing retort when the vibrating cell phone grabbed her attention. It was just as well. Todd was right. She couldn't keep her hands off of him and they both knew it.

  The phone call was her daughter Cami singing the happy birthday song. She finished with a flair that made Shari smile. What her daughter lacked in vocal talent she made up for in enthusiasm.

  “Good morning. What are you doing for the day?” Cami asked in her sing song voice.

  “Good morning. I am just beginning my day with a delicious breakfast prepared lovingly by my adoring husband.” Shari shot Todd a threatening look. He threw up his hands in surrender and stomped of in his pajama bottoms to see if they had anything he could make for breakfast.

  “Can't wait to see you this weekend. We're bringing your present with us. Are the boys going to be there too?” Cami questioned.

  “Yes, everyone's coming. We're going to barbecue, play some outdoor games and roast s'mores on the fire pit. Tyson said he'd bring his guitar, and the kids are in charge of making a birthday cake so it should be absolutely perfect.”

  “Mmmm, sounds like a heavenly, relaxing weekend. Can't wait. We'll be there early Saturday sometime. Gotta go, my hair is still wet and I'm running late. Have a wonderful day. Love you mom.”

  “Love you too sweetheart,” Shari wasn't sure if Cami heard her before she hung up.

  Todd had made a fruit and yogurt bowl for her and a bagel for him so they ate a leisurely breakfast on the patio while they planned their day.

  There was a time when a birthday would include hiking, mountain bikes, a set of tennis and maybe some rock climbing. They had always been active and loved the outdoors, but with Shari's hip degeneration they had tried to find things they could still do together that didn't require walking. Kayaking had become the new sport of choice and they took their kayaks out as often as possible on the nearby lake. Today however Shari really wanted to try to hike a small mountain and enjoy the view from the top. It would cause pain but she could ice it later. More than any activity she loved to hike to the top of mountains and enjoy the view. Todd decided to go in late to work and enjoy the morning hike with her.

  The day was breathtaking, like only a Phoenix winter day can be. Puffy white clouds rolled around the vivid blue sky and the air was cool with a promise of brilliant sunshine. With two walking sticks and a brace Shari was able to walk slowly, stopping often on the way to the top of the little mountain. One thing about her hip pain was that it slowed them both down and they had to stop more often, but that just gave them opportunities to see all of the wildflowers on the mountain and notice the birds, geckos and squirrels. Todd walked with her, though he could easily have run ahead. He was still fit and strong and he hiked often on his own. Today he enjoyed taking his time, walking with his wife, enjoying the wildflowers and the conversation.

  Shari tried to keep the grimace of pain off of her face as each step brought knife like stabbing in the hip. She knew it was hard for Todd to see her in pain, but once in awhile she needed to throw caution to the wind and do what she loved. Today the view was worth it. It only took a little while to get to the top. It was a glorious day and she could see for miles, in every direction. She lifted her face to the sky and felt a slight breeze ruffle through her hair. Something about being on top of a mountain always made her heart happy. Todd wrapped his arms around her and murmured, “Happy Birthday Gorgeous”.

  She smiled up at him. “I am happy,” She tried to remember to tell Todd that often because she was incredibly happy and life was good. Clearly, life wasn't perfect, but the good far outweighed the bad and that's what Shari chose to focus on. Her thoughts meandered over the last few years, and she knew Todd was thinking about them too. She hadn't always focused on the good. When her hip first began to degenerate and she was unable to play a set of tennis or a game of racket ball she had thrown herself into a great pity party. She railed at the unfairness of it, resented those who could run and chose not to, and was angry at the world. After about a week of non-stop crying she decided to get herself together, find the good and make herself happy regardless of her limitations. Looking ahead it seemed there was an awful lot to be happy about. Her
two sons had found wonderful girls to marry and were starting their families. She had four beautiful grandchildren, and they all lived close. Her daughter had also found a great man and they lived out of state but they were coming home to celebrate her birthday this weekend. She would have her whole family together and nothing made her happier than family. Especially since the cancer scare last year that had given her several weeks to evaluate her life and her priorities. The lump had been benign but she found that out only after spending several weeks thinking about mortality. Shari had a strong belief in the afterlife so she wasn't afraid to die, she just thought a lot about how her family would cope. She shook off the memories. That was all in the past. Now every day seemed like a gift and she appreciated it to the fullest.

  They stayed on top of the mountain for quite awhile, just talking and enjoying the view. By the time they were ready to hike down, Shari's hip had stiffened up and the hike down was more painful than going up had been. “I'll be paying for this one for awhile,” she complained, “I'm glad I came though. It's a beautiful day.”

  “What's on the agenda until your lunch date?” questioned Todd.

  “Not much. A little gardening, a little house cleaning, just the regular stuff.”

  “Oh, no you don't birthday girl. There will be no house cleaning on your birthday. Nothing is going to shrivel up and rot if it doesn't get cleaned today. Go out and get a pedicure or have your hair done for your big date.”

  “I just might. And maybe a new outfit too. And why should I get a new outfit?” Shari set him up.

  “Because you are worth it,” Todd answered automatically.

  “Good answer,” Shari teased, “try not to forget that.”

  “Oh, I doubt you'll ever let that happen,” he bantered back.

  When they got home, Shari plumped up the pillows on the bed and lounged against them as she watched Todd get ready for work. His hair was tipped with gray around the temples and his face was slightly lined from hours of enjoying the Arizona sunshine, but his tall, lean body was still well muscled. It seemed a little unfair that at 55 his body was weathering the aging much better than hers seemed to be. He raised his foot to the chair to tie his shoe and his strong forearms flexed. He looked over and caught her watching him and gave her that sexy wink he'd been using on her for 35 years.

  Shari laughed and lunged for the far side of the bed but he was quicker. He dove across the covers and snagged her for a nice long birthday kiss. It struck Shari how hard it was to kiss when you were smiling.

  After Todd left for work Shari decided she would go get her hair done, so she looked her best for her birthday. As she sat down her hairdresser Jennifer asked her what she wanted done today.

  “I think I need some summer highlights to lighten up a little for today. I'm feeling a little drab.”

  Jennifer laughed, “You are about the most un drab person I have ever met. What's the occasion?”

  Shari couldn't wait to tell her. “For my birthday every year my two sons take the afternoon off of work and take me out to lunch. Just the three of us and we spend hours catching up and visiting about their lives, their families, their jobs and their interests. It's one of my favorite days of the year.”

  “I think it's great you have such a close relationship with them.”

  “Oh, those two can always make me laugh. They are two of the most positive, outgoing people I know and they've always got a million interesting things going on in their lives. Now that they have families they are even more fun.

  “How old are their kids?” Jennifer asked.

  “”Tyson's are three and 6 months and Mark's son just turned one. Adorable ages.”

  “You know Shari, in all of the time I've known you I can't think of a time when you weren't happy,” mused Jennifer.

  Shari smiled slowly, “I have a lot to be happy about.”

  By the time the highlights were done, they had chatted non-stop about their lives and Jennifer felt better about the things she was going through. There was just something about visiting with Shari that made a person feel that it would all work out in the end.

  Shari hurried home to change into jeans and a blue and green blouse. After all, a person should wear their favorite outfit on their birthday. She wore some stylish Sketchers even though she knew her sandals or tennis shoes would be more comfortable with her hip giving her so much trouble. She would hurry to the restaurant and meet the boys out front so she didn't have to walk up in front of them. She knew it was still painful for the boys to see her limp so badly. They remembered a mom who could race them up a mountain, play a set of tennis and a little one on one basketball. It always saddened them to see her in pain. She didn't want anyone sad today.

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