On this, my husband’s 57th birthday, I’d like to share some memories, anecdotes and characteristics I cherish about this amazing man of mine.
My first memory of Dan is not of our first meeting or our first date. My first memory of Dan is as a contestant in our annual high school talent show when he was a senior and I was a sophomore. I was sitting in the bleachers, bored out of my gourd, wishing the talent show would end, but happy that it was still going on so we wouldn’t have to go back to class, when Mr. Adams’ tall, gangly son with his amazing poofy hair, came out onto the gym floor. My memory of his talent exhibition that day is somewhat sketchy, as I was with my boyfriend and was too bored to really pay much attention up to that point, but I tuned in when he started to juggle like a professional clown in the circus. As he juggled, he spoke like a sports announcer on the radio, calling out the plays of a baseball player in a ballgame, all the while doing juggling tricks in sync with the plays. The excitement built as the game progressed and the tricks got more and more difficult, though executed perfectly, until the final play of the game. Dan was shouting out the play, everyone waiting with bated breath to see if the player would make the play, when he popped a table tennis ball into his mouth and blew it out with a big whoosh of air and a loud pop, sending it sailing across the gym. We all erupted into cheers and applause. Needless to say, Dan won the talent show that year.
I don’t think we ever actually spoke to each other when Dan was still in school. The first time I can remember speaking, other than a short greeting at church, was when Dan drove his awesome ’66 Mustang down my street in the tiny town I grew up in, on his way to visit a mutual friend just a few houses down from ours. I was sitting on the front porch steps and could hear him coming blocks away. He slowed as he passed by our house, looking my way. I was rather shy in my teens and didn’t usually do many spontaneous things, but I couldn’t resist that very cool car, and the cute boy with the amazing ‘fro, driving it. So I jumped up off the porch, as he very slowly cruised past our house, chased him down the street and asked him to give me a ride in his car. I will never forget his response, after he agreed to give me a ride, of course. He told me to go let my mom know he was taking me for a ride. Most of the boys I’d dated, up until then, were the type who would rather not let my mom know anything. But, Dan was respectful and honoring of my parents from day one, and I’ve always loved that about him.
One of my favorite things about Dan is his ability to allow others to be who they are, and love them right where they are. I don’t think I know another person who does this as well as he does. I have experienced this too many times to count, and it has helped make me who I am today. When we were first married, I mistook this exceptional quality in him as a non-caring attitude. Dan is probably the most laid back person I know, and that is frequently all one thinks they see upon first glance of him. But, under that laid back personality is a truly loving and caring person who doesn’t feel a need to meddle, interpret or change another’s person or actions. He has a “live and let live” kind of attitude toward most of the world, but a “live, love and watch them grow” attitude toward me and our children.
This accepting attitude reminds me of a story our pastor told us many years ago when we were in pre-marital counseling with him. He told of a young woman married to a controlling and abusive man who required her to do a number of chores everyday or pay the consequences every night when he got home. This list of chores was written out for her and she was to do them each and every day. She finally sickened of it and divorced him after a few very unhappy years. She later married again, to a wonderfully loving man, and was very happy. One day, while cleaning out her dresser drawers, she found the list of chores her first husband had written out and demanded she do everyday. As she sat on her bedroom floor and read the list of chores required of her by her first husband, she realized she did those same chores daily, as needed, for her second husband without ever having to be reminded, and she enjoyed doing them. What made the difference? A kind, loving, respectful, appreciative husband made the difference. Love and acceptance made the difference.
The first time my oldest girlfriend and I got together for coffee – actually probably mac and cheese, as we both had little ones – we shared our “love stories” with each other, learning a bit about how we got to where we were in life. I’ll never forget, after telling her about how Dan and I met, she said, “He is like Jesus to you.” I had always known that was true, but had never thought it in those exact words. Dan is the real deal; a true Christian who not only calls himself that, but actually lives like that, consistently. He is not a perfect person, but He is like Jesus in so many ways.
Over the course of the thirty-five years we’ve been married, I have learned so much from this wonderful man. He is the most loving, forgiving, wise, generous, humble and godly man I’ve ever known. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have been given this amazing man to walk this earth with. He has loved me through thick and thin, through good times and hard times, through times of believing and times of doubt, through times of abundance and times of loss, through all the joy and sorrow, peace and turmoil, highs and lows of life. I love him, and will continue to do so forever.
Happy birthday, my love.