House Calls

Medical and other musings of a plastic surgeon

Musings on 36 years

Sally at Carmel

Sal at Carmel, CA 1980

36 years. 432 months. 1728 weeks. 12,096 days. 290,304 hours. 17,418,240 minutes. 1,045,094,400 seconds. A simple exercise in arithmetic but without any meaning, it is just a bunch of numbers.


How do you encapsulate thirty six years in a few inadequate words?


Thirty seven years ago, I stood at a doorway and knocked. Then the door opened……………


There are many moments in life that are memorable, some that are life changing. Some are great, others not so much. Some we will never forget. Others we’d like to, if we could. How, then, do you choose just one moment out of all those? What moment would you want to relive endlessly, because you will never tire of it, because it set your life on a path the consequences of which you could not have imagined in your wildest dreams had you even had the audacity to dream them?


My favorite photo of Sal at our niece’s wedding.

For me it is easy. I don’t even have to think twice. It was the moment I knocked on that door and it opened. I stood in that open doorway, mesmerized. I must have looked like an idiot because words failed me. I have no idea what I said. I just stared, for what seemed like an eternity but, in reality was probably no more than a few seconds. It was that moment when, even though I didn’t actually hear the words, God said to me, “Here she is. I am giving you a unique and priceless gift. Treasure her for she is my daughter.” I know that, in the telling and re-telling of that moment, the words sound trite and unbelievable. I know all that, but I also know in that instant I knew, as well as I have known anything in my life, that this was the girl I was going to marry.

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Lolli and Emerson

Thirty six years later…..Three incredible children with three wonderful spouses. Two adorable granddaughters; blessings piled on blessings. Gales of laughter. Moments of anguish. Travels around the world. Experiences galore. Quiet moments together. Gatherings with friends and family. Shared interests and sharing separate interests. Warmth. Companionship and, yes, great, well, you know….. Unflagging support in all things. Gentle criticism. Commitment. Growing older together. Life. And, weaving through it all, like the threads that create a beautiful tapestry, faith, hope, and love. As the Book says, the greatest of these is love.

Rick and Sally on the bay May 2017

On a sandbar with my main squeeze in Biscayne Bay, 2017

This woman, this incredible loving, smart, kind, beautiful woman, has given me thirty six years of her life without reservation. I can only hope and pray that, by my words and my actions, she knows without a doubt how much I appreciate that, how precious she is to me and how much she is loved.


That moment when the door opened to my knock was just over thirty seven years ago. I year and a few months later, I married that girl. Happy anniversary, Sal. I can’t wait to see what the next thirty six will bring.

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