Our 38th anniversary was in May but as it often does, life takes over and different priorities emerge, but I am ready to now put my heart on my sleeve and give a shout out to the man I am lucky to have grown up with.
L – I’ve grown up with you….literally. I was just a baby when we met (not really, but really). Maybe immature and lacking life experience is a better way to explain that. I was a young 17-year-old who had just graduated from high school, and you were a much more experienced and mature 18 year old (just) from Canada who had also just graduated from high school.
Now some 40 years later, we’ve gone from late night hang outs and parties to home cooked meals and staying home to rent movies. We’ve experienced miracles, heartache, chronic health conditions and more joy than I ever felt I deserved. You have worked away from home for weeks or even months at a time to provide for us and I am sure I will never be able to show you my gratitude for that.
So yes, I can confidently say that I’ve grown up with you.
I’ve walked into people’s homes holding your hand or with your hand on the small of my back making me feel safe and sheltered when I was tentative and anxious, and you still do that for me today.
At one point in our journey, we realized that those times would become fewer and farther between while we had little hands reaching for us, and still you always did your best to make me feel special, loved & protected no matter how many different directions you were pulled in.
I’ve sworn at you and cried for one reason or another and then begged you not to pack your clothes and leave, even though I knew that would have been the easy choice but also deep down wondering why you didn’t do just that. I’ve done things to impress you, and I’ve done things that have left you shocked, dismayed, hurt & often, shaking your head. 38 years later, you have shown me unconditional love, something that I lacked at times as a child.
You have brought me surprise breakfasts, coached soccer, picked up and dropped off kids and you’ve pitched in when I wasn’t feeling able to cope. I’ve made your lunches, done your laundry, cooked and cleaned, drove to field trips but we had to let go of expectations we had for each other and “traditional” roles and worked together as a team to get it all done.
I’ve booked expensive trips (that sometimes we couldn’t really afford) so that we could spend time together without any day-to-day responsibilities. Some of those trips you were excited about and some you were annoyed about, but still you went with a smile on your face and loved me all the same.
We have taken wrong turns throughout the years (literally) and driven nowhere fast at times.
And now, 38 years later, we have come full circle with 6 grandkids, back to having car seats, back to having toys in the yard, a trampoline and more hands reaching for us than we ever imagined possible. We are back going to the soccer field, dance recitals, school plays, birthday parties and more. We still have bills and luggage. And occasional sleepless nights. And I know we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Each trip around the sun finds us in an exciting new stage of our lives. Some of these stages have stretched us, some have challenged us, excited us and scared us. And still you embrace them with me.
But I know that our marriage has not been all sunsets and living the high life. It was building blocks and laying down tread, so we didn’t fall off the stairs leading us to our future together. It was squatting in a cabin with no water, electricity or a bathroom. It was digging our own outhouse and chinking insulation into the log spaces so we didn’t freeze in our sleep.
What we have has never been a fairytale even if that’s what I thought I wanted when we met decades ago. It’s not a movie scene, or even a white picket fence. It’s a house that we built brick by brick. It’s not flashy, But it’s sturdy and it’s ours.
Because I’ve grown up with you, I am so very thankful for your guiding hand, your strong dedication to faith and family and I can’t imagine a life better than we have built together.
So girls, remember this, like the Jordan Davis and Luke Bryan song says “you can’t buy happiness but you can buy dirt”. If you are lucky enough to do that, your dirt can be the beginning layer to your foundation that will hopefully lead to a sturdy and safe place to grow together.
If I can give you any other advice it would be this:
Marry the guy who warms your coffee cup by the fireplace before he makes your coffee in the morning.
Marry the guy who walks half a mile back to you to help you walk across a cattle guard so you don’t turn your ankle when he can barely walk himself.
Marry the guy who wants to hang your bed by chains because heat rises (but thats a story for another time).
Marry the guy who mounts the fireplace clicker by your side of the bed so you can turn it on without having to get up to a cold living room.
Because, that’s the guy I grew up with over the past 38 years. I trusted my gut and followed my heart and I have never regretted a single minute of our journey together. That is my hope for any one reading this.