A few days ago I spent time in the local ER with my mom. She’s doing fine now, thank you. Some of her meds had been readjusted and her body decided to protest, giving us all a bit of adrenaline we could do without.

While in the Emergency Room, one of mom’s nurses came up to me.

“So,” She said. “If I die ten years younger than I would have otherwise, I want you to know it is your husband’s fault.”


Ok, since it was said with a smile, I had to presume my husband had played some sort of prank on this kindly lady. It would not be out of character for him to do so. What she proceeded to tell me brought back memories that we all had a good laugh over.

I’m guessing it was seven or eight years ago.

Southern Illinois is home to bizarre twists of weather, ranging from the absolute perfect and breathtaking, to dramatic thunderstorms and devastating tornadoes. Sometimes all in the same day. It was in one of those bipolar weather days that my husband scared the bajeezies out of the hospital staff.

He was just getting off work and, looking up to the sky saw the most incredible array of dramatic billowing of clouds, black, white and gray, with rays of sun hitting strategically through them—and jagged lines of cloud to cloud lightning topping it all off. To hear him talk about it, it was one of the most breathtaking sights he had ever witnessed.

So, what does my husband do? He grabs his camera and races to the top floor of the parking structure, decides to stand on its highest point (the corner pillar) in order to get the most incredible photograph possible.

In comes friendly ER nurse. She is also leaving work and as she gets ready to exit, a fellow employee says, “The sky is incredible!”

She exits the hospital, looking up to see the incredible sky and lo, there’s a man standing on the edge of the top level of the parking garage, poised as though ready to jump. Can you guess the rest? Police and ambulance, security personnel racing to the site. “Don’t jump, Dr. Gates! Please don’t jump!” My husband’s total confusion when he realizes all the fuss is about him.

My husband loves life and the intensity of experiences it brings. Granted, I don’t always agree with his manner of appreciating things—like standing on the highest point during a lightning storm so he can get a picture, but his love of and appreciation for beauty is one of the many things I love about him. He takes time to notice, he jumps right in.

How many times when driving down some road he points out the window to some beautiful sight I would otherwise be oblivious to. (Ok. Sometimes I am purposely not looking. I am one of those nervous passengers who thinks every semi is gonna get me.) Or he will take the scenic drive instead of the shortcut. Just because. So many gems he discovers because he has his eyes open.

Have you ever gone through great lengths to make something beautiful? To perhaps fix yourself up just so for a date? To wear that special trinket he gave you as a gift? And it all went unnoticed? Have you ever prepared that perfect gift for someone, but they barely glance at it?

Every day we are given gifts. The beauty around us from the small acorn nested in between a cluster of oak leaves, the knots and grains of the wood in my desk, the dimple in a grandchild’s cheek, to the grand–expansive boughs of the tree itself, the colors of the forest in fall, and the amazing young person my child has grown to be. Each is a gift. Do I take time to notice?

Somehow, I think God gets a big kick out of my husband’s crazy enthusiasm. Maybe He’s saying, “Ah! Someone noticed!”

That thought makes me smile.

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