So, um, this week’s date night

One of the things cancer did was motivate Hubby and me to establish a standing Friday night date. I’ve blogged about this in the past, and how — pathetically — I’ve maintained date night alone most Fridays since Hubby died.

This week’s date seemed more important to me. Perhaps because I’ve been out of town the last couple of Fridays, and I’m headed out again on Monday for a couple weeks.


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Deschutes River trail


And so I laced up my trekking shoes and headed to the Deschutes River trail. I can’t tell you how many times Hubby and I hiked along this river. Close to half a million times. Roughly. Give or take a few.



Broken Top burger with bleu cheese and smoky bacon from Bend Burger Co.


My date also included a stacked burger. Eaten outdoors, of course.

Many of you know that Hubby and I changed our diet when cancer showed up. Simple stuff. More fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes. Healthful fats and sugars. Smaller portions of mostly poultry and seafood to complement dishes, instead of large chunks of meat.

Which emboldened Hubby to write a birthday rule. “On my birthday,” he declared one day out of the blue, “I get to eat whatever I want.” Well, OK then.

Gary was with me everywhere this past Friday night. Not just on the river trail and at Bend Burger Co. … but later as I was reading in Drake Park overlooking Mirror Pond, he was in the music – Supremes, Beach Boys, Righteous Brothers – that floated in my direction, beckoning me further into the park to where classic car owners were setting up for the big show on Saturday.

And there was Hubby. Hanging out near this gorgeous burgundy-colored convertible GTO. Because Hubby once owned a ’66 GTO. With the same beautiful front nose and grill.



Hubby’s ’66 GTO was a pale yellow non-convertible


I don’t think Hubby and I took each other for granted all those years of marriage, but we didn’t live as fully and intentionally as we did when cancer hit.

We didn’t pay as close attention to the simple pleasures of life — things like back country roads, children’s laughter, fragrance of homemade soup simmering, candles and fireplace lit against falling snow.

We were rearing a family. And making mortgage payments. And staying tightly budgeted to a single income so I could be home full-time when the kids were younger.

We were probably a little too concentrated on working and saving for someday — when the kids are grown; when we have more time; when we have more money; when …

And we didn’t live appreciatively. By that I mean, we were generally appreciative people, especially when things were going well.

But when Hubby first lost his job, for example, rather than looking around to see all the good that still surrounded us, we whined about our losses; about the necessity of selling our home; about having to trade a nice, almost-paid-off vehicle for an older, less dependable one. I spent more time counting our losses than counting what we still had left.

In time, cancer taught us to take a deep breath, step back and reassess what is truly important. And our marriage, and family, and taking adventures and making as many memories as possible topped the list. Which is when we began to live more purposefully. And more appreciatively.

* * *

A friend whose husband died of cancer – a year or two before Gary – recently told me that as time passed, she became lonelier. And I get what she means.

There was no sorrow sitting by myself eating a burger Friday evening, walking a trail alone, admiring old classic cars without someone beside me drooling all over the 1960s series. But there is definitely a jagged crater somewhere in the general vicinity of my chest.

And while I’m not looking for someone to fill that void, there is a sense of What a shame not to be sharing all this with someone who would totally appreciate it as much I do. 

Hubby would have loved this week’s date.

What about you? Who (or what) do you need to appreciate more? Do you have a regular date night? Family night? Annual family reunion? Are there traditions you can establish with the very most prized people in your life? While they’re still in your life?

* * *

I can’t end this blog without posting photos of a couple of atypical vehicles you wouldn’t normally see at a classic car show.




Like this 1947 Buick Super pulling a 1948 Palace Royale Flyte Camp. This is almost cooler than a Airstream. And Airstreams are pretty cool.




And what about this 1960 Dodge Town Wagon. Its tires suggest a utility vehicle, like a crummy transporting loggers up into the woods. But the name — Town Wagon — suggests maybe it was the grandfather of today’s SUV or mini-van.

Pretty amazing stuff happening this weekend in my hometown of Bend, Oregon.

P.S. If you found this blog inspiring or know someone who would appreciate the classic cars, please share, tweet or pin!


A few thoughts on missed opportunities


Why telling our stories can be healing


  1. Sonja Muster

    Beautifully said Marlys.

  2. sally slick

    Oh Marlys – all your posts are beautiful but this one touched me especially deeply…..Love you, my friend….

  3. Cheryl White

    It’s just not quite the same when you don’t have someone to share the view with – but I love how you have not let that stop you! And I love your pictures from the Classic Car show!!

  4. Anthony Kennedy

    Nancy and I would love to share a Friday evening with you. We live close to the Deshutes and a river walk with us is possible. Plus, I could make you one of the best burgers you ever ate.

    We would be happy to have you. Give it some thought and let me know.


    • Oh, Anthony … yes! A river walk and one of the best burgers ever … yes! (I’ll be out of town the next two Friday nights … will get in contact with you when I get back.) Yay!!

  5. Beautifully written. I have tried to live my life not taking family, friends or as little as possible for granted. Our lives have been so traumatic for 30 plus years that it makes us very aware of what we need to be thankful for and who we need to show appreciation to as often as possible.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    • “It makes us very aware of what we need to be thankful for and who we need to show appreciation to.” Well said, Carol. It is one of the gifts of adversity, isn’t it? The hard can either make us more whiny, or more grateful. And I choose gratitude.

  6. Marlyss Springer

    Thanks for sharing Marlys! This really spoke to my heart. You are a beautiful writer.

  7. Chris Wheeler

    Thanks so much for the gratitude reminder : ) and also photos of the cars we stopped at the Vintage Trailer show which was fun and even Cliff said things like this are more fun with people who like the same things ….Safe & fun travels and each Sun I sit behind you at NH I think we have to plan chai or walk !!!

  8. Martha

    I enjoyed this so much and makes me realize even more to make each moment count an create traditions and not take family or spouse for granted. I am getting into walking more and more for my health and walking with my pup to go visit our son’s home to see my grandchildren for a short visit and share a cup of coffee…it’s free and also priceless … Time together … Thanks so much for sharing date nite Marlys

    • “Free and priceless.” I think sometimes we feel compelled to spend lots of money to make memories. But that’s not always the case, is it, Martha?

  9. Karen mcknight

    This really touched me as I look back at all my complaints over life not going like I had planned. My husband dosent have cancer but he is slowly slipping away from me with onset of Alzheimer’s. Daily I see him losing his memory and dosent remember things from when the kids were small or old friends or places we have went together. I got angry at first but I just have to keep in mind he can’t help it and for me I need to make new memories because someday he won’t be Abel to do that and he will be gone from my world mentally and physically. I love the Friday date nite idea. We are in oregon visiting his family as I know we won’t be making this trip again . When we get home I want to start your idea of a date nite while he still knows me. He has jokingly said one day I will wake up and say who are you. I know that day will come and feel the loss of my husband and best friend slowly coming.we need to live each day to the fullest and enjoy it while we can. I love your posts it’s helping me to see the things I need to do while we still can.i have learned a new appreciation of my husband and our life as it is and not to complain about something we can’t change just enjoy the now as long as we can.

    • Oh, Karen. It’s a hard and sad thing you’re dealing with. “We need to live each day to the fullest and enjoy it while we can.” Well said. I love that you’re considering establishing a date night – good for you!

  10. Qiwen

    Hi Marlys, You know you have been and will always be my inspiration! The simple things in life are the ones that counts in the end. Love and Miss you.

  11. Martha Peters

    very inspiring indeed and written so well…love the pictures as well…this makes me realize the importance of the “now” in life and always sharing with those you love that will let you into their lives…God bless you always! Excellent work.

    • Yes, this: “The importance of the ’now.’” Well said, Martha. Are there specific things you do to remind you to be appreciative of the ‘now’?

  12. MetroOwl

    I came across your blog via Twitter simply by happenstance, and I’m so glad I did. While I am still blessed to have my husband, in the first five years of our marriage he has battled two potentially life-threatening illnesses, including stage 3 cancer. Your post touched me, as it reminds me of how those circumstances changed us and how they didn’t, and how we now understand and live our lives. As the folks above have said, I admire you sticking to date night; it’s a beautiful thing. You never walk alone; he is with you.

    • Wow … you’ve been through significant things with your husband and cancer. Beautifully said: “it reminds me of how those circumstances changed us and how they didn’t, and how we now understand and live our lives.” Thank you!

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