An anniversary ‘post’ to the light of my life and and my reason for living...
On this sixteenth anniversary of our wedding, I post this belated tribute to the purest manifestation of the Holy Spirit that walks the planet.
Her name is Jennifer.
I suppose it is the most unlikely pairings which make the best marriages and relationships. When we met, I was 36 and she was 22. She was an art student in college, and I, a car salesman, rebounding not only from a failed marriage, but also from a failed career as an attorney. She had yet to start her career, and I was four years into my second . We were from opposite sides of the river which bisects not only the geography, but also the ethnicity and racial identity of Greater Cleveland. Her faith was her life, whereas mine had been scuttled in moats of doubt; remorse and resentment. Her nature and her joie ‘de vie were contagious….all who met her were at once disarmed and enchanted. My nature was repellent, my countenance severe. People were intimidated by me….and I liked it. (One takes one’s armor as one finds it).
How unlikely that “Pollyanna” could wind up with a “curmudgeon emeritus” such as I….
But it came to pass, over time, that we grew closer. We each observed the other over a few years as we dealt with troubled relationships and negotiated hurdles in the pursuits of our goals…hers, a degree in fine arts, and mine, simply to achieve constant advancement. As we finally began to date and to grow together, the “hurdles” were, for her, the sensibilities of her parents relative to our age difference, and for me, the skepticism of friends and family as to whether “this girl” could finally tame a recklessness in me which was fueled by both alcohol and gasoline.
As I look back on it, it becomes clear that God smiled on the “Nature Boy” in me, and the “Nature Girl” in her.
True, there was, and is, a physical attraction between us, but the physical attributes each of us admires in the other cannot be said to be exclusive among all men or women.
We neither of us have had occasion, even in difficult times, to even conceive of being suspicious of the other’s fidelity. If either of us is “hit on”, we relate it immediately to each other as matter-of-factly as we would relate a chance meeting with a ‘crazy person’ on the bus. While watching movies referred to as “tear-jerkers”, we both cry on the director’s cue.
Through her, I have rediscovered the Holy Spirit through attendance at the church she grew up in. (Not as a result of insistence; coaxing; or even as a request for a “favor” on her part, but rather, as a result of her example.) She spends her one day off a week tending to my widowed mother, and I spend some of my time off tending to hers.
Through me, she has discovered John Wayne; Cole Porter and the relative attributes of WWII military aircraft. (debatable who got the best of the bargain, here). Neither of us drives the other’s car. Each of us has a metabolism which enables us to eat all the potato chips we want. Money is a bother rather than a goal. She has made my home Dreamsville, Ohio. All is copacetic.
My gratitude for her faith; her delight in life; her smile; her laughter and her Grace has been faithfully, if insufficiently, expressed in regular poetry I write for each anniversary and birthday. She keeps them in an album which she cherishes. I keep my album in my heart. I scan it daily in my mind, and console myself with its’ splendor when times are difficult, or when the diminishing, but still dormant demons of depression or self-doubt sleeping within me try to exercise their evils on my instincts or actions.
I owe her my life; my happiness; my sense of self-worth and my faith. I could say she is the Bacall to my ‘Bogie’; the Alice to my Ralph Kramden; the Nora Charles to my Nick….but that would not do justice to the fact that she is really the Sister Theresa to a lost boy, malnourished of love…. untutored even as to its’ meaning.
And so, as I have, since the last anniversary poem, become a nascent blogger, struggling at long last to express myself through prose, I post this entry instead of a verse. It is gratifying in that I have not had to constrict the depth of my love with issues of rhyme. (It is also serendipitous, as I cannot use my printer until I can afford to refill the damned ink cartridges.)
I love Jennifer with all my heart.
Should she be disappointed with the lack of a verse in rhyme this year, I hope that the following song will suffice. A guy in a cardigan sweater made it popular many years ago. It is a verse I would die to have written, as it depicts, in a musical nutshell, what all who know her understand.
Happy Anniversary, darling.