I usually don’t title my articles with a numeral. This month is an exception. If you think about it, just what is a numeral anyway? 30: curving lines and something that looks like an egg. I suppose they help us record amounts, weights, cost and mark time.
Thirty years or 10,950 days and throw in a few leap year days or around 10,957 days. That comes to close to the amount of time that my wife and I have been married as this article is being printed. Through casual research on the topic of marriage, thirty years is pretty good considering the horrible percentages of those marriages that don’t make it past the honeymoon.
I have to be careful in what I write this month or I won’t see 31 years! My wife has a mean right upper cut. So, I will selectively share some insights on our modest time together. I say modest since Barb’s parents made it to 63 years and mine just passed 62! I share these with you as a personal reflection on the institution of marriage and the wonderful experiences that I have had the pleasure of sharing with my bride.
Since many of you know I am a musician of sorts, it won’t surprise you that Barb and I met while I was playing a gig down in Onoville at the Nic-L-Inn back in my “country phase”. We were both at a point in our lives where we were wiser from our earlier experiences and instantly appreciated the other’s dreams and aspirations. We discovered that we both wanted to be married and have a family. During our whirlwind courtship of all of three months (I don’t recommend this to the faint of heart) we fell deeply in love and married!
We went to a justice of the peace, had a handful of family as witnesses and then told our parents after the fact! (Another area that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend to the weak). The night that we were married there was a terrific snow storm. We hoped that it wasn’t an omen!!!
Like all couples we did weather storms over the years and because of our desire to stick it out no matter what, we always got to the rainbow. We vowed that arguing and fighting had no place in our marriage and to this day our children are hard pressed to think of a time that we did. (They were probably sleeping!) Oh sure, I have said some goofy things and frustrated my wife but I either thought better of it later and apologized or she just gave me the look and said to forget about it. She’s the rock. It must be a lot of work keeping me in check at times!
As we look back over the past almost eleven thousand days together we have had so many laughs and unique experiences. Here are few snippets.
Our friends continue to call us on the phone with the opening line, “What country or state are you in?” We both have been passionate to see the world. So, we do, once piece at a time. I hate being a tourist. So we endeavor to find ways to get into the everyday life of people when and where we can. We have been blessed with friends in Europe who have turned into Germans, Dutch and Belgians. 43 states: Maine to Florida, Alaska to California and on to Hawaii. Internationally, 13 countries and counting! For Christmas my wife doesn’t like all of the usual things. A couple of years ago I bought her a 6’x9’ map of the world for our living room wall. Stick pins look like ants crawling all over the continents.
During our travels my wife is not really a picky eater. She is just suspect of things she can’t pronounce or read off the menu. I am studying to be the understudy to Andrew Zimmern on Bizarre Foods! If it looks good, I eat it. Did you know that there hasn’t been a country yet that Barb didn’t find a McDonalds!!! I must admit that if I order something a bit unusual she will try it or poke at it a bit. She was not at all happy with me when I reported eating horse sausage or pickled eel in the Netherlands. She turned green when I munched on little squid in Mexico, rabbit in Belgium, rattlesnake with a side order of Rocky Mt. oysters in Texas or octopus in Phoenix. On the other hand, imagine a certain glow that envelops an angelic vision. This was the glow that surrounded my wife when she was entranced by the varieties of chocolate when we visited the Rittersport Chocolate Factory in Germany. She has her special tastes and I, mine!
We have been through interesting things as well. We have become sort of storm runners. Not chasers but the chased. As we have crisscrossed the states we seem to be an hour ahead of the closing of an airport due to a snow storm. We outran Hurricane Irene this summer. We live in the face of the storms as they enter Chautauqua County. Living on the escarpment has its moments. Barb likes to remind family as to how she woke me up one night and said something about a tornado. I don’t wake up clearly. Well as the story is told (not necessarily how I remember it), the house was shaking, pictures were falling off the wall and lightning was like a strobe light. I, in my usual calm fashion, told everyone to hang on, by then the house could have landed somewhere on the Yellow Brick Road. Barb is now the “severe weather” captain of the house.
We have shared a variety of other interests. How many husbands can say that their wives own a lathe for turning wooden pens and bowls? I’m relegated to hand carving. Guess I’m safer that way! When it comes to painting and wallpapering, Barb is in charge. On the other hand, the kitchen is my world. She’s awesome at taking care of insurance papers and I balance the books. She does crossword and jigsaw puzzles while I watch Sci-Fi. The list goes on forever. A relationship made in heaven!
Having four kids has been a most interesting experience as well. Fortunately, Barb and I share a similar feel for raising kids. Tough love. Well until Momma looks deeply into Daddy’s eyes and melts his cold, cold heart. To this day she can reduce me to mush with her loving lazar look. Somehow, she can tell you where each one of our kids is at any moment in time. They live in four different states. If she is not quite sure, she’s on the phone doing the texting thing. If that doesn’t work, I am drafted into making the “Are you okay call.”
As I think about it, it’s impossible to capture more than few drops of our lives together. It’s been a wild ride at times with a fast courtship. Experiencing deep emotions as our children have come into our lives and grown into adults with families of their own. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
If one of those storms whisked me away today, I would have no regrets because we have had a wonderful life together that many only dream about. So a final reflection: you know when you are in love when your spouse wakes you in the middle of the night. Opens the curtains wide and she shares with you how beautiful the moon is over the lake. It doesn’t get any better than that.
“Happy Anniversary Honey! Shall we have a go at 30 more?
Dr. John Hamels is a familiar face in Chautauqua County. He is a well known educator, having been a Special Education Teacher, Training Specialist, Principal and now a retired School Superintendent. He has a wide range of interests, serves on a variety of boards of directors in the region, consults and presents as an Adjunct at JCC. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org