Today is Jen's-and-my 30th anniversary (and on the auspicious date of 8-9-10, no less). In honor of the occasion, I tried to think about what I could say about her, and our marriage, that I haven't said before. And I'm sure there must be something wonderful about her that I haven't said before - her wonderfulness is certainly greater than my meager powers of description. But, the best thing I could come up with (I'm still pretty tired from summer camp, I guess) is a pair of re-posts (the ol' Two-for-One Anniversary Special); which I hope you'll all enjoy. . .
Our Flashy Wedding
I have many memories of our wedding day. I remember washing my car in the morning, more to kill a couple hours until I had to be at the church, than because my car was so dirty (this ‘what to do until you have to be at the church’ question is a major one for grooms; I’m given to understand that brides don’t typically find themselves at quite such a loss for how to fill their wedding-day mornings. . .)
Once I arrived at the church, there really wasn’t all that much for me to do. All my groomsmen showed up in a timely manner, my brothers took their places as ushers, and I just took some chill time in the sacristy, as the guests started to arrive.
About a half-hour or so before the wedding was supposed to begin, my head-usher, a guy I’ll call ‘Tom’ for purposes of this story, with whom I’d shared a house while I was in grad school, came into the room where I was relaxing, a concerned look on his face. “Ummm. . .” he began. (I don’t know; it just seems to me that your head usher coming to you a half-hour before your wedding, saying “Ummm. . .” might not be a good thing). “Ummm. . . there’s a retarded guy out in the parking lot, exposing himself to the guests as they arrive.”
I just stared at him, blankly. “So, what do you want me to do?” he asked, as I contemplated the image of my grandmother being greeted in the church parking lot by a mentally-challenged flasher. The fact that it was a Catholic church parking lot is probably worth noting, because my family is not Catholic, and some of them, possibly including my grandmother, held less-than-flattering opinions of Catholics and Catholicism, even apart from any consideration of parking-lot flashers.
“Huh?” I replied, quickly grasping the gravity of the situation.
“What do you want me to do?”
“Tom,” I replied, with all the mellowness I could muster at that point, “I asked you to be my head-usher so I wouldn’t have to think about stuff like this. I’m sure you can figure something out.”
For a couple seconds, he stared back at me. “Right,” he finally said, and hustled off. I’m told that the police were called, and our flasher friend was relocated away from the church parking lot before too many of our guests’ retinas were seared with images of his genitalia. The wedding proceeded without too many further glitches, Jen and I were well and thoroughly married to each other, and the rest, as they say, is history. . .
The Love of My Life
A few years back, a blogger wrote me an e-mail, in which she said, among other things, “You entered into marriage with the love of your life.” And I know what she was talking about. Jen is indeed The Love of My Life, and blessed am I because of it.
A few years ago, Jen had a little daily tradition - when I would come home at the end of the day and she heard the back door open just before dinner-time, she'd call out, “Is that The Love of My Life?” Which was wonderfully heart-warming for me. I'd usually respond by saying, “I sure hope so!” And as time went on, the younger kids joined in the fun. So that, when I opened the back door, 8M would often come running; when he saw that it was me, he’d run to Jen, calling out as he went, “Mom! It’s The Love of Your Life! The Love of Your Life is home!” It doesn’t get any better than that, let me tell you.
But, truth to tell, I didn’t marry the Love of My Life; I’m married to the Love of My Life, but she wasn’t that when we got married. Some of you actually did marry the Love of Your Life – your high-school sweetheart, maybe, or someone whom you just knew, within minutes of your first meeting, would end up sharing your life with you. That wasn’t the case for Jen and me. When we got married, I was marrying a very good friend, someone with whom I shared several important life goals and aims, with whom I got along very well, and whose company I enjoyed enough to think that we could actually have a life together. She agreed with me enough to accept my proposal (heck, the two of us getting married was probably her idea, before it was mine); we got married, and la, la, how the life went on.
It’s almost funny to look back on it now, but Jen still tells people that our first year of marriage was the worst year of her life. Her adjustment to the new ‘life-together’ was a bit harder than mine, I guess. . . But, somewhere along the line, over the ensuing years (30 of 'em, now), she became the Love of My Life. We put in the necessary work, we shared our lives, we suffered together, and in the process of all that, our two lives became one, to the point that I can’t imagine my life without her. This woman, whom I liked and admired way back when, has proven to be even more solid, more admirable, and more amazingly wonderful than I thought she was. . .
Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart. Spending the past 30 years together with you has been a joy and a privilege.