But not to us. And definitely not to me.
By my math, I figure we’ve been together our entire adult lives and a couple of years before that if you count all those college semesters I spent trying to convince her I was Mr. Right, Prince Charming and her White Knight all wrapped up in one. It was a tough sale. But in the end she acquiesced.
Perseverance reigned as my ally. A willingness to give anything a try became her worst foe.
Perhaps it’s why I landed a career in newspaper work. Call it an uncanny ability, if you will, to convince anyone of anything using the printed word.
Following a 21-year hiatus from this brand of journalism, I rejoined it here at this newspaper a couple of years ago. For the most part, it has been a blast — minus a few dozen headaches, lots of hours of lost sleep and very little downtime at home. It hasn’t been easy. Yet the real sacrifices are those my soul mate has made.
Where I have faltered, she has picked up the slack. And she has done it without complaint, bitterness or anger.
Chores I once performed at home, she now carries out.
Errands I used to run regularly, she now takes the lead in fulfilling.
Incidentals like car care, house cleaning and paying the bills — all in which I once played a role — she has taken on in almost solo fashion. I still try to salvage time for the yard work and most of the grocery shopping and cooking, but when she sees I’m caving in under the pressure she’s always there — every time — to lend a hand.
On Memorial Day afternoon, after I returned home from work, she was in the yard in the late-afternoon heat helping me trim tree limbs. After seeing my bank paperwork sit idly on the kitchen table for a couple of days, she balanced my checkbook for me. Realizing I wasn’t going to get to the ironing of my office clothes any time soon, she pulled out the Sunbeam and the board, and steamed out the wrinkles for me. Observing the other weekend that I had simply run out of hours in the day, she did the grocery shopping for me. When a tire on my minivan popped a cork a couple of weeks ago, she coordinated its repair with an automotive center near her office.
She completed each task on her own without being asked. I guess that’s what partnerships are all about, especially those 35-years strong.
Because of my work-lopsided schedule — I’m generally in the office at varying times seven days a week — we often laugh about how “normal people” do things. Ours is no longer a life of normalcy. Maybe that’s why a recent Saturday seemed all the more special to us both.
On the “Relay for Life” weekend in early May, I pulled the four-hour graveyard shift at our newspaper’s booth on Friday night. The shift ran from 12:30 to 4:30 a.m. She was home asleep, but I had already excitedly told her of my plans. I would be home by 5 a.m., would quickly change into some running clothes and then head out to the Oak Grove Huff and Puff Freedom Trail for my Saturday morning run. That would get me home by 6:45, at which time I would get cleaned up and take her out for a weekend breakfast.
In our newspaper life of abnormalcy, we haven’t been able to do this for two years because I’m always at the office.
“We’re doing things a little different this time,” I assured her. And that included taking this Saturday off work.
Our relaxing breakfast at Cracker Barrel (together) was followed by a casual visit to Bryant’s Nursery (together) where we picked out some spring flowers and tomato plants (together), and returned home where we worked under some comforting cloudy skies (together) to plant our flora and vegetables. Afterward, our paths divided so I could mow the yard and she could tackle some house work. We reconvened for a Saturday night supper at the Cleveland restaurant of her choice.
It was our first full Saturday together in way too long.
“So this is what normal people do?” I asked over dinner that evening.
“I think so,” she chuckled.
“Then let’s do it again sometime,” I added.
“It’s a date,” she smiled.
Like beauty, I’ve decided “normal” is in the eyes of the beholder. What’s commonplace for one couple is the uncola to another.
I enjoyed that day of “normal.” Maybe we can repeat the experience soon.
Until then, “Happy Anniversary, my love!”
Life’s not always what we want. But our life together still fills our every need.