Okay, so this is the last prompted post for 2009. And since it is Treasure Chest Thursday, how could I possibly close this post off for the year without showing you my greatest treasure of all?
Okay, so he's not worth a fortune. There is no intrinsic financial value attached to him. He's not the most handsome fellow in the world. He's no longer young.
He looks just what he is. A Texican of the old school.
Yes, folks, this is my other half. And yes, this is my better half. [By the way, the snapshot above was his self-portrait taken Christmas day this year!]
Born in 1949 in San Antonio, Texas to Betty Louise Rotge and Joseph Wright Henry, he was given the distinguishing name of Johnnie Lee [yes, Johnnie with an "ie", and not a "y" - he forever compares himself with the Johnny Cash tune "A Boy Named Sue". Pairing him up with John anything for a surname of Henry - well you can imagine the teasing and taunting involved with that as a kid growing up! And it continues to this very day! And yes, Johnnie is his given name. Not John, or Juan. Johnnie.]
This bit of treasure came into my life back in 1997. And in order to tell you the whole story, I'll have to take you on a trip in the "way-back" machine.
Whoosh! Zing! Pow!
In the earlier part of my life, I had married a man who was anything but a gentleman. He fathered my five children during the 15 years we were married. And in that time, I spent many a day recovering from the physical abuse he poured over me. [I even wrote about that abuse in my very first book "One Wing In The Fire".] It took me until 1990 to break away from that. And at that time, I swore I would never go looking for another man. That if God intended for me to have another man in my life, He would have to send the man to me. I figured that I was safe in saying that. What man in his right mind would come looking for a woman with five kids in tow??? [I learned that you shouldn't set limitations on God.... He'll prove Himself every time you try to do that!]
In the fall of 1997, I had five children, ranging from 12 to 17. I had been diagnosed in 1993 with a condition called sarcoidosis [it's a lung condition, and in my case, chronic]. That fall  I had a cough that wouldn't go away. Even with the prescribed steroids used to treat the sarcoidosis. Nothing was working. A chest x-ray showed an anomaly. And before I knew what was happening, I was in surgery having a lung biopsy performed. Diagnoses wasn't good. I had lung cancer [and no, I've never smoked in my life...but had been around second-hand smoke my entire life]. Prognosis? Six months at best.
My first concern was in making sure my children would be cared for. No problem. My sister would take them and finish the job I had started with them.
A friend decided to be sneaky, and introduce me to a man who was also a cancer survivor. She told me she thought we could talk, and be friends, and he might be a little emotional support during this time. He lived in Salem, VA, while I lived in Gap Mills, WV. [About 90 minutes away.]
The distance was first breached with long letters. And then phone calls. It was as if this man was reading my mind!
Then the end of November we met face to face. And by the 10th of December, he moved in. He said to help take care of me. [You can imagine, treatments made me very sick. I dropped 25 pounds in a single week!]
During the month of December, he asked me to marry him on two different occasions. I said no both times. [How could I say yes, knowing he was going to have to face my death so shortly afterward?]
We had our first Christmas together that year. And my gift from him was a little red box. I remember shaking from head to toe as I opened it, because I could tell it was a ring box.
It was a beautiful plain gold band with a half-carat diamond. Very simple. Very organic. Very me. When he got down on his knee, and proposed the old fashioned way, told me he'd love me for the rest of my life, no matter how short - or how long - that might be... I was lost forever!
We were married on February 27th of 1998, in a tiny chapel in Covington, VA. [It was the Lone Star Baptist Church. How appropriate, don't you think???] The marriage is a funny story unto itself. I had called and made the appointment for the ceremony with the minister a full 6 weeks ahead of time. When asked what our names were, "Johnnie Henry and Cynthia Beane", I could tell the minister thought it was a joke. I assured him, or so I thought, I was not a crank call, and we were very serious!
Came the day for the ceremony, and the kids, my parents, my sister and her family, and the friend who introduced us, were all at the church with us. In the parking lot. The doors were locked. And no minister. He really had thought it was a prank call! The Texican had to call him up and assure him were all there waiting for the ceremony! [True story!!! We were there, the minister was not! Ha ha]
Well, I was head over heels in love with this guy. And headed to the hospital for another round of radiation treatment. Each treatment was preceded with a chest x-ray. When suddenly the radiologist informed me when needed to do a whole series of x-rays. Something was wrong. Something was definitely wrong!
I will NEVER forget that day! It scared me to death!!! I was certain they were going to tell me that the cells had spread more rapidly than we had anticipated, and that my time was going to be even shorter than we had thought!
When they were done with the x-rays, they shooed me over to see my oncologist, and told me I must go "Right now! Don't stop for anything!"
When I arrived at her office, I was ushered immediately into her private office. I sat down across from her desk. She came into the room, and knelt in front of me, and took my hands in hers. I started to cry.
"No! No! No!" she cried out. "Cyndi, it's good news!!!"
Okay folks, I tell everyone that love cured me. You got it!!! There was no sign of an infiltration of ANY KIND! No cancer cells. No anomalies of any kind!!!
For the first 5 years, I had to have a biopsy every 6 months. Then for five more years, we did a biopsy once a year. Now, we just do a chest x-ray every six months.
I still occasionally have bouts of the sarcoidosis acting up. But I haven't even been hospitalized with that since 1999. We usually catch it in enough time that oral steroids clears it right up.
And the Texican?
He's been there for me every step of the way. Proving to me that there are still gentlemen in the world. Proving to me that good ol' boys from Texas can't be overshadowed by even the most refined of gentlemen from New York or California. [Or England, or France, etc.]
You see, the Texican is my greatest treasure. There through the good and the bad. Through lean times and plenty. Through sickness and in health.
When the doctors had told me there was no hope, the Texican gave me hope.
And that made all the difference in the world.