To celebrate our 31st anniversary the Preacher handed me a card with an ape holding a bouquet of flowers on the front. The message read, “To my Darling Wife—I got you a card that’s just like me.”
But the card seemed glued shut. I tried several times to open it. Finally, I gave up, flipped it over and read, “It doesn’t do what it’s supposed to either! Happy Anniversary!”
“Cute,” I chuckled. “But why are you giving me this now? Our anniversary isn’t until tomorrow.”
He grimaced. “Because I’m not sure I’ll be able to give it to you tomorrow.” He’d been suffering from what two doctors had diagnosed as sinusitis and a bad case of the flu.
I first met the love of my life when, five minutes or so late, I walked into a 1974 college fraternity meeting. Casting a nervous grin at the skinny hippy-type fellow behind the podium, I slid into the first empty seat I saw—front and center, just a few feet from him.
I don’t remember much of what that fraternity president told us rookie freshmen during that meeting. I do remember his kind eyes, and how his shoulder-length hair curled up on the ends. “He looks just like Jesus,” I thought. When he caught me looking, I smiled. Couldn’t help it.
The fellow seemed to be omnipresent. In the heady rush of my first few weeks of college, I saw him everywhere—zipping about on the gymnasium floor in a killer badminton tournament, crashing through an opposing team’s defence on the football field, even preaching in chapel.
I admired his scholarly reputation, too. On top of that, he seemed well-respected on campus. And so far out of your league, you ninny, I thought, banishing him from my mind.
That’s why what happened at the Sigma fraternity’s ’74 fall bonfire nearly discombobulated me. Walking toward my hay bale seat, he plunked himself down beside me, pushed his sizable feet into the ground, leaned back and tipped the bale clean over.
The fall sucked the wind from my lungs. But perhaps it wasn’t that. Perhaps it was the Jesus-type guy beside me. Laughter surrounded us. Stars shone above and prairie stubble poked into my back. I turned. “What …?”
“Hi! I’m Rick,” he said. “You’ve got a great smile.” We married a month less than two years later.
On the day after the Preacher gave me that card, his “flu” worsened. The next day, I admitted him to hospital. Paralyzed in three limbs, he remained in care for six months. West Nile Neurological Disease ensured that our marriage, our life, our family, could never be the same again. But in some ways, it’s better.
“Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it” says the Bible, in the Song of Solomon (8:7a). On our own we don’t have that kind of love. But God, who we keep pestering to hold us together, in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, keeps pouring HIS unquenchable love into both our hearts.
Happy 45th Anniversary, Hon.