by Ken Sehested
Once a year in August my beloved catches up to me. For 14 weeks from late April, I maintain seniority in the house of age. But then, in the dog days of summer, I lose my precedence. To be truthful, though, neither of us relish the accumulation of candles on our cake.
Oh the joy of these decades of trips around the sun, and these near-50 years (counting the courtship) of pledged troth, our wedding topped off with a make-your-own-banana split reception: Me in my burgundy red velour suit, frilly shirt, and bow tie; she in a breathtakingly gorgeous gown handmade by my Mom.
Much bread and plenty of roses are in the rear view mirror. Beautiful babies and more beautiful grands. I was able to cut the umbilical chords of most of those. It was, comparatively, lightweight work.
More arduous was, for a season, hand-rinsing dirty diapers in the toilet at 5:00 each morning. (This was back in the Diaperozoic Age, when those things were recycled the old fashioned way.)
Thousands of meals cooked; some, I regret, in a mad dash. Hundreds of lunch boxes prepared; and car pooling to school and extracurricular activities; and sermons and essays and poems sweated over—some still unfinished, some that should never have seen the light of day, but some revealed and offered as manna and water from a rock.
One of Nancy’s prayers, at a preseason NFL football game, brought a visitor to our church who would later become chair of our deacon board. (We debated the propriety of the invitation, but decided God, too, had a sense of humor.) Then there was her wedding sermon, in the downtown city plaza, where B.B. King was the best man.
There have been plenty of trips to beaches and mountains and deserts, and shared journeys to multiple continents. We persevered through anxious days and long nights of comfort-care of each other, or one or another of our kids, through fevers and assorted other maladies; not to mention too many funerals of dearly beloveds.
Our youngest once wandered away from home. Or so we thought. After mobilizing the neighborhood for a terrified hunt, we found her asleep in an empty kitchen cabinet.
It still amazes me that this woman, slight as she is and gently-demeanored, could intimidate religious authorities and hard-bitten inmates alike.
There have been hallelujahs and heartaches. Ecstasy in one moment, the laundry in the next. There were times when bliss was AWOL and romance tempered, occasions of curt replies and tempers leaking. But never, through it all, come hell or high water, any doubt about the thrill of this ride, never a diminished longing for one more day, one more year, at least one more lifetime.
Blessed be your name, dear lovely one. Some of us married up.
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