Wednesday, June 22, 2005

25 Years

We celebrated our 25'th wedding anniversary yesterday. "Celebrated" may seen rather a strong word for what we did, I suppose. Between budget and time constraints and doctor visits, we kept things pretty low key. A large part of the day my better half spent taking her mother for radiation treatment for the tumor in her arm. Mysterious problems (some computer-related) kept them waiting for hours--not a good thing for a wheel-chair bound woman with terrible pain in her arm. And the youngest daughter had to go to and from summer school. And, of course, there's all her mother's mail and bills to take care of while her mother is in hospice. So my wife had neither the energy nor the mood for a big party; and since we knew it was going to be that way so we didn't plan one.

Although country music isn't popular around our house, there's a line from a song by Kristofferson that's stuck with me: "Loving her was easier than anything I'll ever do again." And so it has been with me. Waking up in the morning to find her there is always a joyful surprise. And then there are the myriad things she does to care for us: to cook, smile, run forgotten lunches to school, be there, try to keep things organized, listen, and love us. . . As for me, I'm often forgetful or selfish, with a tendency to leave projects unfinished. For the honor of truth I have to say she isn't perfect; but in comparison with all that she does for us, who notices?

We started with 2 years together with me as a grad student, part of the time with me a hundred miles away working on our experiment. Then came our first child (I had pneumonia, she had a C-section--we were pretty tired for a while). Two years later our second, and then a move to Madison. We weren't fortunate in our bus service location, and it took me a while to figure out that my boss wasn't a good detail man, and assigned more projects than a human could work on; so I was at work a lot. We had to up stakes again and go back to Illinois to work on CDF. We lucked out: we were expecting, but only had 2 kids running around, so we could actually rent an apartment. Most places wouldn't accept families with 3 kids. And it proved a blessing for my mother-in-law, because my father-in-law was dying of Alzheimer's-like dementia, and she needed someone nearby to fall back on.

After a year, a new daughter, a new boss and back to Madison, where we lived in an apartment complex of about 60 units. We and the next door neighbors were the only families with all-original parents and kids; everybody else was in blenderized families. So while I did the 9 to 5 thing, my lovely bride helped organize ministry activities for the neighborhood kids. It wasn't usually a dangerous neighborhood.

The birth of our youngest daughter took a lot out of the starch out of my bride, and the youngest son took even more. She took the brunt of the work with our kids, and I sort of helped around the edges.

Thanks to a gift from my mother-in-law, we moved to a house of our own in Sun Prairie, and my better half could have a garden. Or two. Or three. And I've lived there now longer than any other place in my life. And children are now going to college, some leaving home, getting ready to get married--and some are going to still be around for at least another 7 or 8 years.

We've been through a lot together in the family: Alzheimers, depression, autism, ADD (how I wish that was the bogus illness some people claim!), cancer, and all the various other surprises and illnesses and 10-year-old cars and self-repaired washing machines that come with the territory. And we've been trhough birthdays and homeschool and camping and public school and parties and homework and exploring in the park and just being there as we all grow together.

And I wouldn't trade being a part of all our lives for anything. There's lots of things I'd do differently if I had to do them over, and I'd not wish the pains we've suffered on anyone; but if I knew then what I know now, I'd still look at her and say "I do."

I'm overjoyed and proud to be part of the family with my wife and our kids (and parents and sisters and inlaws).

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