A Letter to my Husband on our 40th Wedding Anniversary

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August 20, 2017

Dear Michael,

Today we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. Our cake topper was a plastic bride and groom that looked nothing like us.

I chose the dated idea of a bride and groom, instead of fresh flowers, because I am a sentimental soul that has kept this dingy, yellowing remembrance in a cabinet all these years.

But we really don't celebrate our wedding anniversary do we?

We celebrate the night we met.

That bitter cold Friday night, November 10th, 1972.

You had hair down to your shoulders and a mustache. Mine was down to my waist. I couldn't take off my plaid winter coat because my jeans had ripped up the back. You wore brown corduroys with a white t-shirt topped with a "polar bear" coat.

Doherty's Pub was the corner college bar where everyone hung out. There we were, glancing at each other across the smoky pool table, drinking cheap draft beers.

I know it sounds trite, but that's where our love story began. And that's why we celebrate this date more than our wedding day. We played foosball until the bar closed and we've been together ever since.

45 years.

Now you have no hair. Mine is thinning and turning white.

We grew up together. We are growing old together.

We are a pair.

I remember when we were first dating, we would observe older couples dining out. They would sit there, sullen in silence, with nothing to talk about or perhaps they were horribly unhappy in their marriage. We vowed to never be like that.

Now, when we go out for breakfast or lunch, we still enjoy being together and seem to find something worthy to talk about. Or maybe we just like to eat.

Our taste in music has always been, thankfully, in sync. Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Motown, the Moody Blues, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. We never did care much for the Rolling Stones.

Joe Cocker's, "You are so Beautiful," became our song at the very beginning and still is. We awkwardly dance in the living room or on the patio even though you still believe you are Tiny on the Tightrope. You are not. Neither am I. But who cares?

You crave my chicken thighs with Dijon mustard and maple syrup or a pot roast in the Crock-Pot. I love your roaring bonfires and how you put the bubble lights on our Christmas tree perfectly every December.

Sports crazed, Chicago Blackhawks hockey and Cubs baseball take up much of our television viewing, but we were never interested in Bulls basketball, or rather, any kind of basketball.

You help me pull black shirts and dresses over my head so the deodorant doesn't leave white stains on my clothes. And if it still does, you get a damp towel to help me get them off my back.

I help you organize your heart medications and pack for you when you go on business trips so you don't forget your razor or black belt.

You never get mad when I back the car up into the post on the driveway. I always get mad when you cut the shrubs in half with a chainsaw.

You say, "I hate you, sometimes!" And I say it back to you. But "sometimes" is the key there. You can't be with someone for forty-five years and not hate them once in a while. I think it's quite healthy we do.

We share a love of movies, although I scowled in the fetal position during "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" bored out of my mind. But I agreed because you were game to see Lina Wertmuller films in subtitles with me. How many times have we cried watching "Out of Africa" and howled during "My Cousin Vinny?"

You enjoy naps. I never could nap.

You studied biology. I studied art.

You sleep like a baby. I am a chronic insomniac.

You are good with computers. I am not.

You play golf. I take walks.

You fix things. I break things.

You have poker games. I have Book Club.

You sneak cigarettes. I quit thirty-five years ago.

You drive me bat shit crazy when you crunch on ice cubes.

I drive you crazy when I ask questions during the Bears games. At least it's not bat shit crazy.

Our greatest achievement has been our children, Matt and Lena. We raised kind, compassionate and "easy to get along with" human beings. No small feat.

We made it through dirty diapers, spelling tests, braces, driver's education, heartbreak and SAT's.

Then off to college, more heartbreak, grad school, falling in love, marriages to Dana and Brian and buying their first homes.

Fiona's birth last December made us grandparents and this new role has us beaming like a lighthouse during Hurricane Hugo.

We must have done something right to deserve this family of ours.

To make a difference in someone's life,

you don't have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect.

You just have to care enough and BE THERE.

 

Lessons Learned in Life, Inc.

 

You have always been there for me.

Often, in the middle of the night, you will wake up, reach over and gently take my hand, kiss it, and hold it close to your chest. After a few minutes, you will let go, roll over and go back to sleep.

Forty years of marriage comes down to that simple gesture.

I can't imagine spending my life with anyone but you.

Happy Anniversary, sweetness.

I love you, forever and always,

Terry

 

 

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