She's quick to engage. "I hear southern," she'll say. Unfailingly, she's rewarded with a warm conversation about the south and its charms.
My wife, you see, was brought up with a sense of place. A notion that where you come from matters. It's a trait she shares with many born in Georgia, Texas, the Carolinas, Alabama, Tennessee. To me, a native of British Columbia, it's quaint - a contrast to the more portable lifestyle of, well, pretty much everywhere else.
On a recent road trip to Yellowstone, she'd wave excitedly upon spotting cars with Georgia license plates. After receiving a few puzzled looks, she hand-lettered a sign the size of a placemat: "I'm from Georgia, too."
I've pulled her far from Dixie. Living in the northwest, to be closer to my older daughter, was something she committed to seventeen years ago. It was like agreeing to having a limb removed, but she's never complained about it. Commitment is not a fractional thing with her, this girl full of grit and grits. It's body and soul. 100% or nothing.
One might describe our marriage as two spouses separated by a common language. One day we had an out-of-town guest in our home, and my wife gave him directions to find his way back to Vancouver. He looked perplexed. "I'm not familiar with Aff Ave. Where is that?"
My wife and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. "Aff Ave" is how Carrie pronounces the major interstate running through town: I-5.
For most of our years together, life has been an easy walk. We've lacked little, and blessings of all forms have rained upon us. Some recent health concerns haven't changed that. Even now, as we engage in the fight of our lives, we look for and find our small good fortunes. We count every one.
Her instinct to fight for our family has come forward in raging force. It's stirring to see, and shows itself in her courage. Poise. Grace. She wouldn't use those words, but I and others recognize it in her.
Our schedule has become insane. Our busy lives are full of many transient things. But you and me, girl, we go on forever.
Our faith tells us that there is something that awaits us after death. I imagine that place to be full of delights and rich in relationships. And when the time comes, I'll know how to find her. She'll be the one reaching out to strangers, chatting with friends, applying small soothings where she sees the need.
And, more than likely, carrying a handwritten sign saying "I'm from Georgia, too."