Once, many years ago, as we sat on our deck with some friends, I spent 45 minutes telling the story of how Joanie and I met. (It's a five-minute story ... tops.) That experience symbolizes our relationship; that is: 1) how much I love to talk about Joanie and 2) her patience, kindness, loving spirit and willingness to put up with me.
Today is our anniversary, so I'm sharing the following piece. It rings as true today as it did the day I wrote it; as true as the day she said "I do," and as true as the day we met.
Joanie, if you didn’t already know, is my wife, my partner in crime, the love of my life, and the stabilizing force in our family. She’s been everything from the wise and handy member of the group, to the funny one, the responsible adult, the mother character and the sound -- but sometimes fidgety -- sleeper, among all the other roles she’s played.
A versatile gal, to be sure.
To say I “married up” is an understatement, but I’ll follow that up with this. By finding Joanie – and subsequently, hanging on for dear life ever since – I cemented myself as a prolific decision maker because if I’ve done nothing elseright in the past three decades, it’s these three things: 1) I found the love of my life, 2) I didn’t let go and 3) I learned that when she talks,
I should listen.
Please realize that I could write a book about this woman, who she is and how she has changed my life, and it wouldn't even scratch the surface. But really, all I need are four words.
She is my everything.
You need more? Fine. I'll go on but be careful what you wish for. Because I'm going to tell you that she’s kind, the kindest person I’ve ever met. And she’s funny, funnier than I could ever hope to be. She’s beautiful, inside and out. And smart and strong, with strength she hides behind a sincere, humble exterior.
This woman has been with me through my greatest victories and has pulled me single-handedly through my lowest lows. She’s given me two unbelievable children, Kate and Will, who today look and act amazingly – frighteningly – like us.
And right now, she’s probably just a little upset that she’s getting this kind of attention. But you know what? I don’t care. She deserves it.
Now, if this is too sappy or corny for you, tough. This is my essay, and if I want to write something about the most special person in my life, that’s what I’m going to do. If you don’t like it, you’re free to stop reading.
But, if you’re still with me, I need you to know how lucky I was the day I met her, and how I immediately knew she was someone special. I need you to know how on our first date (April 17, 1987), I got a ticket for making an illegal U-turn after she and I agreed it was OK to undertake such a maneuver. I tell you this because the following Tuesday (after I had returned to college in Madison, Wisconsin and she to her university across the state) I received a check in the mail for half the amount of the ticket ($22.50; the ticket was for $45.00). Who does that? I'll tell you.
I also need you to know that I know I fell in love with Joanie long before she did with me, but that was OK, because I knew we were creating something special as we traded weekend trips across the state for four years before we lived in the same city. It was almost two more before we were married.
I need you to know that I’ve never had more fun than on March 6, 1993, our wedding day, even when our panicked photographer hurried us over to get a picture next to our wedding cake before it collapsed. But I'll also tell you there have been many, many days that were just as fun.
And finally, I need you to know that every day I get to spend with Joanie, I feel like the luckiest person in the world because somehow, by design or dumb luck, I managed to find just the right person for me. And every day, I can only hope she feels the same.
Is today a special day? Sure it is, just like every day is special because I have Joanie in my life.
Everyone should be so fortunate.
Thank you, Joanie. For everything.
* The title of this essay is a nod to John Prine, who wrote a song by the same name. RIP John. Your influence lives on.