Thursday, January 28, 2021

Appreciating My Wife of 48 Years

 When you’ve woken up next to the same person for the last 48 years there is not much that surprises you. Rather, what you develop is an appreciation of your partner’s varied and numerous talents.

Gilda is the consummate student. The task of learning a new skill refreshes and energizes her. Two years ago on our anniversary, I detailed her professional achievements as a nurse and nurse practitioner, all in specialties where she lacked any prior experience—newborn intensive care, ICU/CCU care, infectious diseases researcher during the HIV, Lyme Disease and hepatitis scourges of the 1980s-1990s, and spine surgery pre- and post-operation assessment (

She was fortunate to have skilled physicians instruct her along the way. It has been in her leisure activities that her intensity to self-expand her capacities has been demonstrated to me. 

Time has not dulled her enthusiasm for learning. She can spend hours researching recipes, then trying them out. A self-taught praiseworthy cook, she has become as well a superb baker, especially of braided challah. It is a wonder I have not put on pounds from her cooking and baking output. Must be my metabolism.

Her green thumb talents extend to outdoor and indoor plants. She has turned our basement into a winter greenhouse with grow lights suspended over geraniums exhumed before frost covered the garden. She experiments with winter growing techniques, with plants boxed in the attic or inside clear plastic bins on our patio. She can spend hours talking with our son-in-law Donny about plants. I know of few gardens as beautiful as the one Gilda cultivates each year. Last summer’s project was building a stepped entry to land on top of a rock outcropping in the corner of our back yard. From that same promontory our kids used to ride their sleds after a snowstorm until they got big enough to conquer the hills of Maple Moor Golf Course. 

Gilda loves exploring new areas. The best trails to walk, parks to visit. Beaches. Neighborhoods to look at interesting houses, especially those with magnificent trees.

She has the patience I don’t have to research online vacation rentals. She can spend hours organizing photo files.

She’s a member of several book clubs, each meeting on different days. Apart from those clubs, her concurrent reading usually involves one book of fiction, one of non fiction. “American Dirt” is her current book project. 

She reads online at least four newspapers every day: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Omaha World Herald, The Westchester Journal News. And for good measure she logs onto one or more times a day.

As a teenager she sewed her own clothing. She taught herself to sew so expertly she was hired as a seamstress by a Greenwich Village shop while attending Brooklyn College. That’s how she came to sew a cape for Frank Sinatra. Now, she mostly does small but intricate projects, like shortening sleeves or legs of sweatshirts and sweatpants to accommodate her small frame.

It is hard keeping up with her. Just listing all her interests tires me out. 

Happy 48th anniversary, Gilda Bear!

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