Tomorrow is my husband’s 60th birthday!
It’s kind of hard to believe, really. It seems like just yesterday that he came up to me at a high school dance and, well, hit on me. Oh, what a tough little guy he was back then. Hair greased just enough, eyes narrowed as if the world was trash, and wearing denim jeans, cowboy boots, and the ubiquitous denim jacket with the collar turned up. He had a chip on his shoulder anyone could see, and presented a kind of a ‘rebel without a clue’ sort of image.
We dated for a short time—as eleventh graders do—and then he decided I wasn’t cool enough, and he was gone.
Only to knock on my door on July 28th 1971—more than a year later.
I didn’t recognize him at first. His hair was missing the grease and his shoulder, that giant chip. And he wore glasses—turned out that before, his eyes hadn’t been narrowed in disdain so much as they were squinted as he tried to see without his specs. This young man bore little resemblance to the one I’d met before.
He asked if he could take me out for a cup of coffee, and a drive in his new (for him) car.
A year later, we were married and the rest is history.
He was 17 when we first met and it’s really hard for me to grasp that since then, 43 years have gone by.
Those years haven’t always been kind to either of us. We’ve had our ups and downs, both internally and externally.
My beloved is a recovering alcoholic, and as of today has been sober for nearly 29 and a half years. He wasn’t a pretty drunk, and his decision to get sober was only one of many courageous decisions he has made in his life.
He has always worked, even when there was no job to be had. Not so long after we got married, he worked for a moving company where he was paid for 40 hours a week but expected to work over 60. He did it because he had a wife, and then a baby to support. He took an extra job one winter, riding shotgun for a “friend” who had a pickup truck with a snow plow blade attached. The man paid him a few dollars an hour and expected him to chip in for repairs to the truck, too.
He took extra jobs where he could, and when there were no jobs at all, he cut fire wood and sold it; shoveled driveways with one small shovel—in short he always worked his ass off, because that was, in his mind, what a man did.
When I had my heart attack and subsequent emergency by-pass surgery he told me in no uncertain terms that I was retired. When I wondered what I should do with my time, he told me to do the one thing I’d always dreamed of doing—becoming an author.
He’s supported me every step of the way in this career of mine, and has always been my biggest fan, handing out bookmarks not just to coworkers and people he knows, but to perfect strangers, here at home and at any conference we happen to be attending.
He has read every single one of my books—and loved them.
We are, none of us, perfect. Neither is this world we live in.
But in this imperfect world, by any measure you care to name, my husband can be counted as a good man—and that, in my opinion, is a hell of a thing to be able to say about a body.
Happy birthday, beloved.