We hit the milestone 30-year anniversary last year. The 31st anniversary seems a bit anticlimactic but I still want to express to John in some way how much he means to me, so here’s this year’s effort.
He never imagined he would get married. He was a confirmed bachelor to everyone who knew him. But one of his famous sayings was also, “Never say never.”
What I remember the most about our wedding is him looking down at me with his blazing smile and the bluest eyes I had ever seen, and saying without any hesitation:
I was the rattled one, cotton mouthed, and as I spoke my vows I could see the minister slowly lean in a bit after every sentence.
I asked John many hours later why he didn’t seem the least bit nervous. I mean, be honest – wasn’t he just a little terrified by the prospect of marriage? You know, the “Til death do us part,” “forever and ever,” and all that?
“No,” he said. “I have a wife now and I’m completely happy!” He genuinely seemed so delighted that I had to laugh and promptly forgot all my jittery questions.
Many years and three children later I wanted to start my own dental practice. It was the early 90’s – long after the country made great strides in enacting equal rights for women in the workplace. I went to the bank to secure a loan expecting it to be a fairly easy transaction. The bankers were adamant – John had to co-sign the loan. Since I was legally married, he had to agree or the financing was a no-go.
At the bank they handed us a stack of papers and explained that John would not only have to sign but he was required to be the lead signor – even if we divorced, declared bankruptcy, or I never had even one patient walk through the door, he would have to pay all the money back. Every cent and interest. I wouldn’t have blamed him for bolting out the door at that point – I almost did.
I whispered to him that if he was scared or had any regrets, we could just say we changed our minds and walk out. He looked at the mound of paperwork and said:
“Where do I sign?”
My dreams became his dreams. They were just as important and exciting to him as they were to me. We shared the risk and the worry – and marveled in the successes.
We faced our greatest challenge when a relentless, and ultimately victorious, cancer struck our only daughter, Kate. The fear was crippling and the pain and sorrow overwhelming as we struggled to be strong for our children.
“No matter what happens, we’ll get through this together,” he said.
When one was weak, the other seemed to rise up and gain strength. When I felt too exhausted to take another step or was weak from giving blood for transfusions, he was there to prop me up, let me rest, and remind me over and over that we were in this together.
No matter what.
30 years later he still embodies all of the traits I hold dear. He’s a promise-keeper, a grudge-forgiver, and a truth-teller. He reminds me to take life less seriously, to have much more fun, and to worry a whole lot less.
He’s my daily reminder that no matter what we’ve had to endure, I’ve been incredibly lucky in love.