"We are legally married in California."
Throughout that first hospitalization I felt compelled to offer this defense, this clarification, to every hospital employee who walked into the room. After hearing the explanation of my presence not one person even raised an eyebrow. Nevertheless, I continued to explain. I was convinced that if I were a man the automatic assumption would have been that my partner - a woman - and I were married. Seeing two women in the room, I assumed the automatic explanation was that we were friends or sisters of a sort. I challenged anyone to question my right to be at the bedside of my spouse. No one did.
Yet another lesson learned. And learned with less angst because I had the marriage certificate and the power of attorney for health care in my folder which also contained the yellow legal pad.
Throughout that first hospitalization the only item in that folder utilized was the legal pad.