Seriously! He drives me crazy! He’s the kind of man who sweats the small stuff – a traffic light turning red, the printer running out of paper when he needs a quick printout, things like that. Big stuff too, like when he inadvertently records the wrong TV show.
You can probably guess that an abundance of patience is not one of his (otherwise abundant) virtues. Aside from that, he describes himself as having an “Irish temper.” I have no idea what that means, but I do know that his simmering point is about half the level of mine. Suffice it to say that petty annoyances frustrate him.
Most of the time I just ignore him. Sometimes, though, it builds up and I react with my own display of temper, and a “discussion” ensues that can start as a squabble and advance to a full-blown verbal brawl with no effort...mostly over the stupidest things. Somehow things always work out, though, and we’ve managed to stay together for over 30 years.
Let me stop here and assure you I love my husband with every drop of emotion that’s been wrenched out of me during our years of dating and then marriage. And believe me, you can pack a whole lot of emotion in thirty-something years. We’ve loved passionately, and sometimes battled just as passionately. After each of those skirmishes, I reminded myself that I’d promised to love and honor through thick and thin, even though at that moment in time, things might have felt more thin than thick. And then there are those moments where I can’t contemplate life without him.
Like the other day. We were sitting next to each other in a meeting. His hands were clasped on the table in front of him. I stared at them and had a flashback of them joined with mine as we stood at the altar those many years ago. We didn’t indulge in one of those long, sloppy kisses after being pronounced man and wife. We simply gave each other a quick peck on the lips, bear-hugged, then lifted our still-joined hands in the air and shouted, “We did it!” Laughing, we ran down the aisle, toward our future. We never had a proper honeymoon either, but that one night at the Treadway Inn in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., did the trick…and then some.
My mind jumped to another memory – his hands again, this time gripping the steering wheel of his father’s 1980 Mercury Marquis as we raced down the Garden State Parkway to see my mom who’d been taken to the emergency room with a life-threatening condition. Then another time, different car, same driver racing me to the vet’s in a blizzard to get my cat treated for a broken tail. Then again, several years later, this time me gripping his hands as I pushed out son number two (sans drugs, I might add…what was I thinking?!). He later told me I’d been squeezing so hard, I nearly crushed his bones.
Similar experiences have filled the time since – years of Little League and football practice, music lessons and band concerts, report cards and teacher conferences, all sprinkled with bouts of laughing and loving, often bickering over one thing or another, things that in retrospect are so meaningless, they've escaped my memory vault.
What I do vividly remember are the countless episodes where he’s defended me, either against others, or against my own self-doubt. He’s encouraged, uplifted, and cherished in every way. He’s the reason I write today – because he had faith in me and kept pushing until I took those first tentative pecks at the keyboard. He’s my plotting partner, often the genus of my craziest stories, always helping me with turning points and sagging middles, and the person I turn to first for critique. I truly can’t contemplate life without him by my side. How lucky am I?
That’s my lesson this Valentine’s Day. Yes, my husband sweats the small stuff, often in really annoying ways, but I don’t have to. I can disregard. I can let the moment roll off/go in one ear and out the other...whatever cliche I want for the moment. I can play my own mind game, turn off the annoyed switch, and remember how lucky I am.