Celebrating 40 Years of Marriage: Part II

Last updated: September 2021

Will talks about how he defended against incontinence while celebrating his 40th wedding anniversary. Read Part 1.

By my side

My wife has been by my side throughout my journey with prostate cancer, which led to surgery in April of 2018. As an active couple who enjoy the outdoors, my hope was that one possible side effect of surgery, incontinence, would not alter our lifestyle if, in fact, incontinence was a reality for me.

The bad news is that a degree of incontinence has been ongoing for me since the surgery, but the good news is that it hasn’t stopped us from maintaining our active outdoor lives.

My defense against incontinence

So, to celebrate our 40th anniversary, I made reservations at a good hotel in Bishop, California, and planned two day hikes in the Eastern Sierra, our favorite place, about six hours from our home on the Central Coast. My defense against incontinence is lightweight shields that adhere to the inside of my briefs. I packed as many as I thought I would need, and on Friday, July 16th, two days before our anniversary, we drove to Bishop.

When we know we’re going on a big hike to a high altitude pass, we’re like kids on Christmas Eve. Our destination on Saturday was Piute Pass, elevation 11,400’. It would be Melinda’s first hike to the pass, my third.

Sharing the beauty

I was excited about sharing the beauty of the hike, which begins in subalpine fir and aspen forests carpeted with wildflowers fed by rushing snowmelt streams, and ends in a barren alpine landscape with a view that covers thousands of square miles and many dramatic Sierra peaks. A ten-mile round trip, we carried enough water and food in our daypacks for a full day.

We were rewarded by all the splendors one can hope for in the mountains, especially that expansive feeling that accompanies being above tree line, a feeling of being part of something grander and more mysterious than the confines of our individual experience. The grandeur goes beyond anything that can be expressed in words, the essence of a spiritual experience.

Our anniversary

The next day, our anniversary, I chose a shorter hike to Treasure Lake at 10,400’. Rain was predicted, so shorter meant being able to get out of the mountains more quickly if a storm appeared. After a good anniversary breakfast and a cup of coffee from our favorite café in Bishop, the Looney Bean, we drove to the trailhead at South Lake and started our hike on a cool, cloudy morning.

Once again, we hiked through beautiful forests and arrived at the lake, situated just at tree line, around 11:30. It was still and quiet, reflecting the pyramid-shaped summit of a nearby peak, dimpled here and there by trout rising to the surface. We snacked and took in the views with our boots and socks off, sitting on a slab of granite.

Just past noon the first drops began to pucker the lake surface. Expecting more, we prepared to hike out, enjoying the refreshing light rain. It accompanied us all the way back to our car and exploded into a downpour just as we got there. Perfect timing.

A quality celebration

We completed our anniversary with a soak in the hotel’s outdoor spa, in the rain, so we had it to ourselves, and then we had dinner at Mountain Rambler, our favorite restaurant in Bishop. The next morning we packed and up drove home, stopping in Lone Pine to pick up amazing cinnamon buns at the Alabama Hills Café.

We were gone for 77 hours, but it couldn’t have been a better 40th anniversary. A little bit of incontinence and a few ultralight shields made no difference in the quality of our celebration. As I like to say about the quality of my life, many blessings, much gratitude. Eternal thanks to my wife and occasional caregiver, Melinda.

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