In all my wedding hullaballoo I may have failed to note the joyful fact that Steve and I marked our 32nd anniversary last week. We are not huge celebrators, except for the 5 and 10 year intervals. Still, we took time to go out for a lovely dinner at our local treasure, Vie, where we had a wonderful meal. I never gave Steve the card I had purchased. He made me look bad with beautiful roses and a hand signed enclosure card. When I went to the lake for carpet cleaning, I left them behind, and I was sad. An oldie like me does not get roses too often. They were still heads up, unbowed when I returned Saturday- a good omen for the next year.
At this time in life, I am taking note of the shocking shape shifting that happens during the course of a marriage. Steve was wild, now he is settled. He was the last to leave a party, now I hate to abandon a communal activity. He loved to eat, now I would kill for a restaurant meal, or even a dinner that was not branded with Stouffer's. (Steve favors packaged meals since he inputs every calorie/fat gram into an app on his phone, Lose It)
We have raised our kids as a tandem act; I took the first shift, he dominated the discipline for the second shift, and now we blend his adoration of empty nesting with my desire to lure the kids out. Each of us has a specific input now. For example, once last winter Mike and Kathryn had a fight, and Mike arrived at our door. Steve spun him around and sent him back. I would have listened, then pushed. Steve was right- our role is not to complicate the kids' issues by providing a safe harbor from the daily stressors. It is to make sure they learn to manage them.
My Dad always appreciated Steve, but Mom was a little tardy in her affection. She looked like she sucked lemons at our wedding. It is one of the joys of my life that Mom lived long enough to see Steve put aside his demons. He charmed her with his resolve, and a good whiskey sour recipe. After a time, she saw that Steve provided us with the security and stability that she was certain he would never have.
I think that Steve sensed that I was a flypaper kind of girl when he first met me. I was not going to give up. In the course of our life, Lord knows he did some things that could loosen the adhesive of marriage. The German Janet overpowered the Irish Janet. I did not wail and wobble, I waited until Steve saw it was best to treat his talents and his family with respect. Now he is a very good man, one I am proud to be married to.
He has had a very vexing few years- the loss of a platform that he loves for daily radio intersection with his fans, the death of his Mom, my Dad, and the creation and financial commitment to a daily podcast. He has never given way to self pity or anger. He has tried to view the future and plan for it. He knows that there is no guaranteed outcome for him. He has tried to accept the gift of freedom by doing things that he could never do, like traveling to Florida for the winter while maintaining a daily conversation on the web. He has not been tempted to drink- and believe me, when he gets frustrated, I ask him. He has pushed himself to learn golf, and accepted with humor and grace that he may always be a bad golfer. He has tried to become a better son to his Father. Most amazing of all, he has spent the last 8 months losing 50 pounds, with a daily determination and grit that would inspire me....if I had any self discipline. But it DOES impress me.
When I came home Saturday, Steve was all aglow that he had Jimmy Buffet tickets. I had a bridal shower to attend, and I had to opt out. Instead of pressuring me, Steve saw it as an opportunity: he would buzz in, check out Toyota Park and the Parrot Heads, watch the concert, and sneak out before the encore. He quickly realized that if I went along, I would go all Margaritaville on him; I would never want to go home. He has wanted to meet up with Bridgeview mayor Steve Landek for a long time. SO we diverged, had our separate fun, and were both content with our choices. He had a great time out in the world, a place he has historically avoided as much as possible. He was pretty much Steve Solo, and he is content to be that way. He loved Jimmy Buffet, even stone sober. It took 32 years, but by God- we have about 85% of married life figured out. It is good enough to make my life pretty darn happy. And as he is shrinking physically, Steve's growing in new directions. That bodes well for a good dotage together.
As I watch Mike take his vows this Saturday, I will remember that August day 32 years ago, when I started the walk down the aisle into marriage. I had no clue how many challenges lay ahead. It's a good thing, too, because they would have overwhelmed the young Janet. The Janet who looks back is tougher, more elastic, realistic and most of all, grateful. I have had an interesting journey, and I have a sturdy partner on some rocky road. It is so much more than I dreamed of. SO happy anniversary, my husband. May all the et al readers have the same joy, especially my sweet son, Michael, and his beautiful (almost) wife, Kathryn.
32 years later (Steve still hates to shave) with our groom-to-be
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