When we were talking about a theme for Valentine’s Day here at JSI, we finally came down to Epic Fails in Gift Giving. Robin told about her husband’s interesting gift choices over the years, and how they are more than made up for by many fine, personal qualities. This post is a continuation along those lines. Except, the gift giving failure in my family is me, and I guarantee you that I have few fine qualities to make up for them.
I should have known I was in over my head when it came to gifts when my husband saved me from being drowned on our first date. He hates the story so I respect his feelings and don’t tell it, but suffice it to say that for a guy who showed up for the date in ratty Puma running shoes and a pickup with knee-deep cans and fast food wrappers in the passenger’s side floor, he did himself proud as a shiny knight and won my heart.
My attachment to Persuasion is probably because we are like Anne and Frederick, gradually acquainted and falling quickly in love. We met on June sixth, 1977 and were married the following March. That first Christmas together he was buying me clothes. His taste is so good it was that Christmas outfit I wore when we got married. He was good about picking things up unexpectedly and surprising me. I didn’t think much about it until we had been married for seven or eight years.
At that point we had survived a couple of lay-offs from his job and the economy of rural Missouri was killing us. One evening he brought home a small bouquet like you find at grocery stores. It cost maybe two-fifty, three dollars. When stretching unemployment, a bouquet of flowers translated into a couple of pounds of ground beef and several meals to me. I launched and made it clear as crystal that I didn’t need flowers, we needed every dime to cover real expenses like rent and food.
Let me tell you, it doesn’t take many receptions like that to kill natural romantic inclination.
Other than the standard flower-giving holidays, I haven’t received a bouquet since.
I don’t have the clothes anymore and I wouldn’t be able to wear them if I did. It’s probably a good thing they aren’t hanging around to remind me how stupid I can be. Thankfully, Bill has given me something better that the perfect gift for any occasion. He’s given me complete acceptance.
I’m not an easy person to be married to, to be the child of or to be friends with. I’m depressive, angry some of the time, and have situations in my life that leave me muttering most of the day. Yet, every day, when I wake up, I know that Bill accepts me just where I am at that particular moment. He expects certain things like coffee in the morning and dinner before he goes to work at one, but even if those are sidetracked, he’s flexible and finds a way to soldier on. He listens when I blather on about my writing even though writing has, at times, been an obsession of mine that kept my face in the keyboard and not paying attention to him.
None of this is to say that we aren’t annoyed at one another on occasion. We don’t fight, but we do have those times when all the bristles are out and just walking into the same room is … tense. But we find a way. We persist in being relentlessly constant to one another.
Ours is not a romantic passion. We were never, even when I was slender and it looked good, one of those couples who are all over each other in private or in public. In fact, most people seeing us in public probably feel sorry. “Those people aren’t even talking. I’ll bet they don’t even like each other.” Well, I’m sure that some days he would agree with them.
Today is Thursday. Garbage day in the neighborhood. I’ll get up and rat around the house until everyone else gets up. My granddaughter will be screaming through the kitchen as I cook dinner. Bill will be at the table drinking his coffee and playing referee for me. After dinner, before he goes to work, he’ll go get the garbage can. He’ll come home around eleven and endure me watching an episode of The Walking Dead before he can watch The Big Bang Theory or Top Gear. We’ll go to bed around 12:30.
There is nothing crazy, exciting, surprising or toe-curling about our lives. The gifts are still spot-on—techy stuff that sometimes takes me further away from him for a while. There’s nothing extraordinary about us, except he loves me in the way I need to remain sane.
Click to hear the song, “You’re Still the One” by Orleans and listen to what is still the anthem of our marriage. (Hey, it beats “Life in the Fast Lane” by the Eagles, which was the runner-up.)