White knight and his lady celebrate another Valentine’s Day

Marcia and Len Brown mark their 24th anniversary today in a courtship that began when she gratefully accepted his invitation to dance while cornered by someone else at a nightclub. Brown continues to try to save his wife, a dialysis and multiple sclerosis patient, today.

The guy was being obnoxious and, worse, he had her cornered. She scanned the crowd for a lifeline and caught the eye of Len Brown.

He barely knew her — his younger brother was dating her best friend — but he liked the looks of her, he liked her smile and her eyes and her firecracker energy. And he knew the bozo who was hitting on her wasn’t taking a hint. He walked over.

“Would you like to dance?” he asked, and this sassy little number named Marcia practically leapt over the table to accept.

That night in the former Colorado Social Club — it’s now a church, so they jokingly tell people they met at church — led them to Valentine’s Day seven-and-a-half months later. That day, inside her parents’ Palisade home, she promised for richer and for poorer, and he vowed in sickness and in health.

“Do you?” the minister asked. They both said, “I do.”

“When I asked her to marry me, I took that serious, and my vows as well,” Len says. “I meant it.”

Today is their 24th anniversary. Today, Len will slide a 14-gauge needle into the skin of Marcia’s left arm and begin her dialysis. He will go to work, then come home, prepare dinner and clean up the dishes.

And she will adore him. Oh, she will adore him.

“I’m so lucky to have you,” she tells him.

“I’m lucky to have you,” he says.

Len and Marcia Brown’s romance is not a sky-filling conflagration of passion, the sort that blinds then burns out. It’s not the bonfire that fades to ashes. It is steady. It is enduring.

“When everything started happening, I said maybe now is the time if you want to run,” she recalls. “I wouldn’t blame you.”

“I think our love is not that shallow,” Len counters.

But it has been tested. Marcia, who’s had diabetes most of her life, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000, “so I fall down quite a bit,” she explains.

The diabetes, in 2007, caused kidney failure. She immediately had a kidney transplant, and it worked well for a year and a half. However, the kidney was from a cadaver and infected with cytomegalovirus, so her body rejected it. She went back on dialysis.

Len tried to donate a kidney to her, but couldn’t. His sister, however, could. Marcia’s body couldn’t make it work, though. She returned to her every-other-day commute to St. Mary’s Hospital from their home in Whitewater for dialysis. It was exhausting. So, Len trained for three weeks to complete her dialysis at home.

“We’ve had our blood spurts,” she admits, “and if we get an air bubble in the line, I could die. But I trust him. I absolutely trust him.”

It’s not just what he does for her, she says, not just that he works and takes care of the house and their pets. It’s not just that he helps his nine siblings and his parents and her parents and their 20-year-old daughter, Hannah, whenever they need a little boost.

It’s because, when the clouds descend, when she feels useless and helpless and, sometimes, hopeless, he brings the sun.

“He’s my rock,” she says. “My knight in shining armor.”

“It’s because I love you,” he says.

Together, they adore their 1-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, and they enjoy mellow evenings of Colorado Avalanche hockey on TV. They watch the sun set over their mesa, they spoil their dogs and cats, they make a go of it. Together. With love.


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