From my observations of other married couples I find I am unusual. I do not hang out with the guys, nor do I have a weekly “guy’s night out.” I don’t spend hours on weekends in front of the TV watching sports. In fact, during the school year, I have very little time for TV at all, which is no real loss as there isn’t much worth watching in any case. What seems most unusual about me–though I’m sure those that know me well could suggest any number of ideas–is I like nothing so much as being with my wife.
I like going places with her and doing things, even if it’s only grocery shopping. I push the cart and walk, slowly about 15 paces behind her, because she’s erratic, and charmingly so. Her attention flicks from item to item; she picks up items and reads labels, almost decides, puts it back down, picks it back up, and so on. She accelerates, then brakes in a millisecond, even backs up from time to time. I just watch and smile and adjust. Thirty-six years after our marriage, she still catches–and holds–my eye. Every little trip is an adventure.
What I appreciate, perhaps more than anything, is our quiet time at home. We live a tranquil and satisfying life. I’m often in my little man cave, typing madly away on something like this, while she is in the living room, her feet up, the TV on, but ignoring it, reading or playing games–have to keep the aging brain supple–on her iPad. From time to time, we slip into each other’s room and smile, touch or chat before returning to our pursuits. She often shows me charming or touching things on her iPad, or simply wants to talk. That’s usually preceded by her heartfelt laughter.
I’ve learned, years ago, when she wants to show me something or to talk, to drop whatever I’m doing, and listen. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to any of us, and perhaps one day I’ll find myself longing to listen to her. No need to hasten that day. Her thoughts and insights are always delightful, and often, surprising. In many ways, she sees so much more clearly.
I tell her I love her. Many times each day, and each time, I feel it more. That’s why I’m writing this.
She’s on vacation, a month with her sister and father in Wyoming, and a trip back to Chicago for a nephew’s wedding, the son of her brother who died not long ago. There is much of his father in him, and in his two brothers, who she will also see. But for a month, I’m at home–alone–where the cat is taking care of me. It’s really her home; she just lets us live here as long as we behave and give her appropriate deference. She’s snoring gently on her favorite chair as I type. She misses my wife too. Ooops! Her ears must have been burning. She just announced her entrance with a few emphatic meows, and came for mandatory scratching and stroking. She’s done now, her tail flicking happily as she leaves the room for cat errands elsewhere. I can write again.
I’m not truly lonely, but I do feel an emptiness. We speak by phone every other day. Mostly, I listen. That’s what men do if they’re smart. If they’re really smart, they really pay attention and understand what a precious, wonderful thing a wife is, and with each word, fall more deeply in love.
She’s having a great adventure with her sister, who I’ve come to love and appreciate more with time, and her father, who will probably not be with us too much longer. She needs the time with them.
She is the kindest woman I know. Every day, after school, she tells me all about her kids—special needs kids–and their triumphs and tragedies. She worries that she’s not doing enough for them, or not doing it right. She’s a better person than I’ll ever be. She lets me run off to rehearse and perform though that takes precious time from us. As we get older, we discover that time really is relative; it passes much more quickly.
She lets me be who I am, but her example makes me want to be a better man.
I miss her. Not a day passes that I don’t think of her, and appreciate her, and wonder how I was so fortunate as to find her. And I thank God for her, and ask Him to watch over her, and to bring her home, safely, to me, so we can, once again, have little adventures, and so I can hear her laughter and watch her shining blue eyes as she tells me about her life, a life I am ridiculously fortunate to share, as imperfectly as I do it.
In the meantime, I wait, and write, do the business of life, and pet the cat–always pet the cat–until I can have her with me, and listen to her again.