What mismatched socks taught me about living

My husband, Gary, and I were back in Hospice House after breaking out for two weeks. Love found us there, because there is no hiding from love.

Visitors, food, chai tea in cheery red cups, gift baskets. And these groovy mismatched socks with the manufacturer’s tag that read, “Life’s too short to wear matching socks.”


On what would be the last day of his life on earth, I migrated back and forth between Gary’s hospital bed and the window seat overlooking a garden blanketed in snow.

I held his hand. Stroked his cheek. Ran my fingers through his hair that had grown in puppy-soft after chemo. Reassured him that I would be OK, that he could go home to heaven.

And then—as it took an interminably long time for him to take his next breath—I found myself thinking, Oh, but not just yet.

Selfish me.

The manufacturer’s tag that accompanied the socks reminded me that life’s too short for a plethora of things:

1. Life’s too short to live it fearfully, to not get off the couch and create adventure.

Ironically, the ten cancer years were the best years of our marriage. Maybe because Gary and I created more adventure, and took more road trips, and had more fun than in any other season.

2. Life’s too short to not do something that matters with our remaining days on earth.

After we worked through the initial devastation and anxiety and self-pity, we said, Wouldn’t it have been nice, back at the time of diagnosis, to learn how others with cancer were living proactively? Particularly I wanted to hear from a married couple, because I wanted to know how to be a courageous, fierce, proactive caregiver. And so we decided to become that couple.

Establishing a non-profit, writing for grant funding, presenting our hope-filled message across the country — this was way out of our league. But we persisted in bringing hope and encouragement to others dealing with cancer.

3. Life’s too short to not speak words of love and affirmation to those in our care or influence.

Gary and I had the luxury of time to say everything we wanted to say to each other. Which is a reminder to speak those words – now – to the people in our sphere of love and influence. Because there is no guarantee of tomorrow with them.

4. Life’s too short to count what is lost instead of counting what remains.

Even with loss heaped upon loss, there was still much that remained. This breath in; this breath out. These gracious children. These endearing grandkids. These family members and friends showing so much love and care for us. This beautiful central Oregon. One more day together.

5. Life’s too short to not express gratitude.

If I challenged you to list 10 things you are grateful for in this moment — this very moment — what would your list look like?

Here’s my in-the-moment list:

1. Fireplace flickering

2. My cute little guesthouse — that I could afford to move back to Oregon because of the miracle of this place

3. Nature views out every window: Extravagant autumn colors against evergreen backdrop



4. Taste of homemade pumpkin spice tea latte (Secret recipe: In small saucepan, heat 6 oz. milk [I use almond milk], 6 oz. water, 1-2 Tbsp canned pumpkin, 1 tsp honey, 1/8 tsp each cinnamon, cardamom, and orange peel. Pour over Good Earth Sweet and Spicy tea bag. Let steep several minutes. Sip. Smile.)

5. The gift of an early retirement to write full-time

6. Piano-and-strings music playing on Pandora and ears that hear well

7. Healthful foods in my fridge and cupboards

8. Adult children who believe in my dreams

9. Gorgeous, compassionate, smart, sassy, knitting, coffee-and-tea-drinking girlfriends

10. A hike through Shevlin Park that will commence as soon as this blog is done

And that’s just in this moment.

I plan to wear these mismatched socks long after they sprout holes as a colorful reminder that life is too short to not sit up and pay attention to all the good that surrounds me.

Yes, even in sorrow and loss.


P.S. If you found this post helpful or inspirational, please share, tweet or pin!


Friday date: How fun would it be to share all this?!


“Plan Your Epitaph” Day: Who knew?!


  1. Love this one, Marlys!

  2. Marcia Musial

    If I had to sum up in one word the way your writing makes me feel, that word would be ‘cozy’. Cozy is a good word, to me, anyway. Even though we are completely at opposite ends of the country, Pennsylvania is a lot like Oregon (well…except for the fact that I don’t run into many Ralph Nader fans like myself), so environmentally, I relate to a lot of your surroundings. God bless?

  3. Peter Howe B.E.M.

    Your cosy socks appeals to those with determination, a couldn’t care less and I’m gonna do it anyway attitude. I presented my ‘Craghopper’ (all purpose outdoor/anywhere trousers) to my Barbara because they had frayed in the knee areas, I also handed my Barbara 2 police patches, given to me by colleagues in Oregon. One colleague had been shot 3 times in Portland and survived, the other took on undercover roles similar to my ‘crime squad’ & under cover duties – each of us survived knifing and shooting incidents. So, I don’t wish to ‘get rid’ of my Craghoppers, they are a most important all purpose cosy functional piece of clothing and they are more than just a pair of trousers, to me. I thank my Barbara for being so tolerant in sewing the patches on the knees of those Craghoppers. Love this message, but why wouldn’t I. Thanks Marlys. Our love, God Bless, B & P

  4. Darrell Lake


  5. I’ve only known you and read your posts for a short time, and already feel blessed by your wisdom and faith. Grateful for your inspiration, Marlys!

  6. Mary Tomjack

    You have done it again, Marlys. You have blessed my socks off !!!!

  7. Eloquent. Gratitude-filled. Affirming. Proactive. Cozy, indeed.Crispy autumn pumpkin-filled dream-filled. Elohim-breathed. Thank you, Marlys! You made my day.

  8. Oh, yes, and I love your mismatched socks! They’re striking. When I speak, I wear mismatched socks . . . .puts me at ease that I don’t need to get it all right . . . relaxing into mistakes . . . I’m so glad that grace is at the core of this thing we call our faith!

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