There's a very old saying of which the first written record is in the year 1225. I think the fact that it is still being quoted must make it a truly wise old saying: "The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present."

In this most recent - and unexpected - saga of our lives, I would think that time would go more slowly. After all, right now time is what is doing its magic healing in the process of Spouse Roger's recovery. But the clock doesn't stop, nor does it slow down. It definitely is not waiting for anyone.

Spouse Roger returned from Bangkok before I did, and when I found out he was in the hospital, I rushed home too, to find out that he would be having double bypass open heart surgery on the next Tuesday. In the meantime, he could not go home because they were giving him medication via IV, and they wanted to keep an eye on him. And it certainly wouldn't have been a good idea for him to be home alone or driving back and forth alone. So he stayed at Mayo's Saint Marys, which provided me with the security that he was having the very best care. And when I did get back from Bangkok, I was quickly brought up to speed.

When he had arrived back in Minnesota, he came home for one night to sort through five weeks' worth of mail and unpack his bags. Then he called his doctor, who of course told him to get right in. In short order, his doctor sent him in an ambulance straight to the Emergency Room, and then he ended up in the cardiac care unit. He had two arteries that were totally blocked.

That's the last thing we thought would happen to him as there is no history of heart problems in his entire family, both sides. They just all died of cancer. And he's had what we hope will be his one and only bout with that. He has never smoked, drinks a little beer only, has never been overweight, gets good exercise, and we eat as healthy as can be. I asked the doctor why and he said that sometimes it is just the luck of the draw.

Spouse Roger's daughter came up from Illinois to be with him until I got home. Then she came back on the day of surgery and stayed until he was out of the woods, so to speak. That was good because she speaks medical-ese, and could translate doctor-speak for us. We've been assured that the procedure is fairly common now and, barring anything unusual, he should be just fine and feel even better than before after he recuperates. And we're happy to report that so far, so good.

Bringing Spouse Roger home definitely felt like starting a whole new chapter in our lives. We carefully reviewed what we usually eat and fortunately very few changes will have to be made there. I will admit that we have occasionally opened a can of soup for lunch and Spouse Roger likes a certain kind of canned chili better than he likes my homemade version. So, those cans of soup and chili in the pantry will go to the food shelf. But other than that, there will be almost no adjusting; as we said to the doctors, we don't know much that we could change to eat any more healthily. We are reading labels more carefully, and when we occasionally splurge when eating out, we will adjust something else to make up for it.

Spouse Roger is doing everything that he is ordered to do: following doctors' orders for exercises and walking, taking his medications, resting more than usual. Every once in awhile I see him gazing - maybe longingly? - out the windows at the grass that is greening up way too fast. I imagine that he is wishing he could be out in the barn tuning up the lawn mowers for the season ahead. I am going to hold him to the agreement we made in the hospital before surgery, which is for no more lawn mowing. I have often suggested that he did not retire to spend all of his time mowing grass; I think he is beginning to agree with that, and I think the golf clubs can easily fill in his newfound spare time - as soon as the doctors agree he is recovered enough for that kind of exercise.

In the meantime, perhaps the biggest challenge is time. It is not always easy for active people to fill the minutes and hours when physical activity is suddenly off the list of do-ables. Too much time could lead to boredom and certainly to being stir-crazy. But that is when it is good to remember that saying that is now 1,000 years old: "Make the most of today....Today is a gift and that is why it is called the present."

Yes, today is a gift, and so is every day to come. We just need to remember to make the best use of each one that we get. Even if we can't do what we are accustomed to doing, there are still many other things we can do with this gift of time that we are now experiencing. And already I am wondering where this day has gone.