Tomorrow My Sweetheart will turn 66. This morning I awakened with the thought...I was called to be a special witness of his life. I met him when we were in the summer before our senior year in high school. The year was 1964, the year President Kennedy died and in the same season. The year we turned 17. So when we met I was just barely 17 and he was about to turn 17. That couple of months difference in our age has been a rub on me all our lives together. He starts pouring it on around my birthday and then falls silent about age about this time every year. Every time we meet someone new he makes sure they know he married an older woman. So predictable! I can count on it. When I met him he was sweet and loving and wonderful. Now he is all of those things times 50 years.
One of the most wonderful thing about a 50 year long relationship is the character witness you become of that person and his or her life. That person becomes "Your Person!" No one knows their character, their strengths and weaknesses more than someone who has spend 50 years observing their companion in every conceivable situation. No one knows the vulnerability of that person better than you do. What a privilege to know things that no one else does about just one individual on the planet like you do. It is to be more than a wife but an actual witness to the life of another because you have shared it, day in and day out, year after year after year. The good times, the bad times, the extraordinary, exhilarating highs and the sorrows and vicissitudes of life in mortality that bring you to the depths of despair. You face your faith and your deepest fears together, you experience the most heavenly joy. You are yoked in your live, in your commitment, in your love.
No one has the power that your person does to lift you or bring you down in the same way. It is more than friendship, more than a marriage, more than the big things that happen as you experience life together. It is your spirituality, it is all your foundational beliefs, it is your beautiful family, it is romance, it is your life plan together, your struggles, your happiness and all the wonderful people you meet along the way that become more than friends. It is also the bills to pay, the decisions you make together and on your own that affect your person as much as they do you. It's the day to day labors, aches and pains, the joy of accomplishment and the comforting when defeated. It is going with the flow, it is preparing for the inconvenient, it's putting up with the quirky imperfections and loving in spite of them...being past that time when you thought you could change your person to be more like you. It is sheltering and being loyal, it is protecting and helping and doing things together...even when it is not your favorite thing to do. It is gifting your person with what they need even when you own reserves are rather low. It is holding hands. A lot of holding hands and going forward as one. And it is a process, often arduous...of acceptance, refinement of yourself and tenacity. It is a lot of learning and traveling and building...always building..your life together.
Jim is an amazingly intense Italian. I am half Welsh, more relaxed, more reflective while he's constantly on the go always planning his next adventure. We are both organized and planners don't get me wrong, but he works it as only he can. I can work as hard as he does but standing side by side it never looks that way. He is a ball of wild energy...you can feel it when he walks in a room. I like one on one interactions with people best...he likes a big group. I have said it before...he is a dash and I am a dot. I'd rather write a book, he'd rather scale a mountain. Many would say we are an unlikely pair. We have even said it ourselves as we have grown from a couple of starry-eyed teenagers in love (just two years older than our oldest grandchildren right now) into the people we have become today. But somehow life-long love and commitment changes everything.
Especially when you add 50 years worth of common experiences shared with no other, you love all the same people, and you have the same eternal goals. We are both Swedish and it may be there that we have found our common ground. That and The Gospel of Jesus Christ, our posterity and ancestors, and our love for all the great people in our lives. We have built a life on our love of it together, and hope in our future. And all of it is laced with gratitude for all of our blessings and a desire to serve others in remembrance of all we have been given. Even the hard times when our rough edges and barnacles have been ruthlessly scraped away one after the other, until we have come to a better understanding of what our life is all about.
As I was looking through pictures the other day I found this one above of us. It is rather goofy and one of those arm's length ones you take when no one else is there to do it for you. I love this picture because it was a moment that I remember exactly how I felt when it was taken. I felt completely happy, extreme contentment and the joy of this relationship I have been talking about in this post. It was his birthday a few years ago and we were walking through the fallen leaves at St. Mary's College campus. It was an afternoon of just him and me and it was magnificently beautiful that day.
The thing I love most about the thoughts and feelings I am having today is that I know they are real. They are unclouded by anything hurtful...just the pleasantness of where we have come because we kept on keeping on. We didn't give up, we kept moving to this joy-filled place. If there is any message in it, it is what a lovely time of life this is. I love my husband, my special person like no other. And I want to witness many more birthdays with him. God isn't finished with us yet and we are in it for the duration of this earth life and beyond. And whatever happens it will be good, all good. And I am thankful for him and who he is and is yet to become.