Remembering To Laugh Along The Way

Today is our wedding anniversary. It might have been predestination or providence or happy coincidence but somehow we met and fell in love. Deb and I started out laughing (mostly she at me) and we haven’t stopped laughing since. There is no one funnier and no one who “gets me” more than she does. The rest is history or rather our story. We were married and we never looked back.

We had no idea what lie ahead in 1975, which may have been a blessing in disguise. We somehow managed to find our way, one step at a time, one day after the next. Usually our plan was “There Is No Plan” and we just dealt with whatever came our way. I don’t recommend it for the faint of heart but so far it’s worked for us. Laughter has helped. And patience. And respect. And love. But we always remember to laugh.

Our journey has had it’s ups and downs. But the downs have been few. We raised three amazing children or more accurately: they raised us. During those days of cribs and diapers and preschool and science projects we usually laughed at our mistakes and prayed that they would create no permanent damage to our children’s physical or mental health. Somehow we all survived and still laugh about some of the funnier moments: Having to explain to a 2nd grade teacher that when our son told his class, “An eagle landed on my arm in our front yard!”, he was just using his imagination and we weren’t actually animal trainers. Or the time when our daughter felt the need to correct her 1st grade teacher’s vocabulary (a trait she still possesses) because, “It’s pronounced pretty, not purdy!” To this day we still call that teacher Miss Purdy. Our baby boy provided most of the laughs but I will forever remember the time that he threw himself on the floor of a department store while having a complete meltdown because we refused to buy him a tiny trench coat. He cried and screamed at the top of his lungs, “But I want to look like Inspector Gadget!”, the cartoon detective. Prying him off the floor while he was wailing, “You’re breaking my little arm!” proved to be less humorous at the moment, but we laughed as we ran out of the mall. Those memories still make me chuckle.

Later a new job offer moved us out of state. What a blessing our years in Wisconsin would turn out to be. Great schools; great neighbors; great friends. We survived the teenage years. Of course, laughter was a necessary ingredient in our survival. Our youngest child took us on some unexpected journeys along the way. Turns out, he was smarter than most of his teachers and certainly smarter than his parents. Ultimately our kids grew up and became adults. Along the way Deb and I tried our hand at adulthood too with limited success. We mostly stayed on the “No Plan” plan and stumbled along in blissful ignorance.

After 11 years in Wisconsin we had an opportunity to come back home to Missouri and took the chance. It was a bittersweet moment: leaving two of our children at the University of Wisconsin, and leaving friends we had come to count on plus a home we loved, to return to our roots. But coming back to family and life-long friends was another blessing in this life we share. The ensuing years would bring great joys and much more laughter. Greatest amongst our joy are our five beautiful grandchildren. Who knew all those years prior that our daughter would find love in Wisconsin and gift us with two of those grandchildren? They along with their cousins provide much of the laughter in our lives today. An added plus is that I’ve been able to recycle many of my old jokes for a new audience. I’m certain that the older grandkids laugh out of courtesy these days, but hey, laughter is laughter. I’ll take it any way I can get it.

Work once again provided an opportunity for a new adventure and in 2012 we lived in England. We often found ourselves laughing at our hapless efforts to carry on as ex-patriots. Our misuse of the language, our driving skills, our tiny washer/dryer and the eccentric neighbors and shopkeepers all offered countless hours of laughter. I’m sure we supplied many a laugh to those who encountered us along the way.

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Through it all, Deb and I have remained partners, friends, lovers, and two of the funniest people that I know. We have a saying in our house, “Funny Trumps All!” Of course not everything is a laughing matter but even in our darkest hours we have found something to make us laugh. On her deathbed my Mom made us laugh by telling us that although she would miss all of us, she certainly wouldn’t miss Donald Trump. It was her last gift to us all. She took all the sadness out of the room with that simple sentence. Once again she was the Mom who knew just what we needed. I’m sure she’s looking down on us now and laughing at some of our antics.

46 years ago when Deb and I made our vows there were promises to love and honor and to stay together in sickness and in health. There was no mention of laughing. And yet here we are, still laughing all the way. They say that laughter is the best medicine. And I would add that nothing is healthier than being able to laugh at yourself. I suppose God has given some of us more opportunities to do that than others.

A true blessing is having someone to share that laugher. Happy Anniversary – Deb (thanks for all the love and laugher!)

Peace,

Denis

Our Love is Perfect

wedding debI still vividly remember our wedding day and my bride walking down the aisle. It felt surreal. The sunlight was streaming through the windows and the light seemed to be emanating from her. I believe I saw my future in her beautiful green eyes at that very moment. That was 44 years ago and the light still shines. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in this life, but the one thing I did right was on January 4, 1975 when I said, “I do.”

I do. I did. I will.

Debbie and I have had an incredible journey along the way. Raising three children and pursuing multiple careers. Living on two continents. Meeting new friends while holding on to those we’ve known since childhood. Being blessed with five grandchildren. Traveling the world together. Praying together. Laughing together. Crying together.

We do. We did. We will.

I have a friend who says he’s the lucky man alive. I think I could challenge that, because I’ve always thought I was the luckiest guy on Earth. I have been blessed beyond measure. I know that I don’t deserve the life I’ve been given. So, I thank God everyday.

I do. I did. I will.

IMG_3774Life hasn’t always been easy but the good times outweigh the bad. The laughter drowns out the tears. And sometimes hanging on means holding on. Holding on to one another. Never letting go. Remembering in our darkest hours that our love will survive. If all is lost, our perfect love can still be found.

We did. We do. We will. Forever.

Peace,

Denis

P.S. Happy Anniversary Deb!

P.S.S. I would have written this song for you 44 years ago, except you know that I don’t have any musical ability whatsoever. Anyway, you’re still perfect for me.

Time and Time Again…

A new year. A new beginning. Again.

Most of us look at January as a time for a fresh start. A time for resolutions. A time to reflect on the past year and plan for the new year. It’s out with old; in with the new! Some years are better than others. Sometimes we are blessed during a specific year and will give the year credit for our happiness. Likewise there are times when we are very happy to see a year end. As if the year had something to do with our misfortune. Thank you 2017! Or good riddance 2017! Whichever it may be.

I suppose there may be a bit of superstition when it comes to the passing of time. My wife insists that we eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. According to her grandmother it will bring good luck. Not eating them, well it’s not worth the risk. Nor the wrath. So I eat them every year. I believe that I’m luckier than you non-black-eyed pea eaters. Why tempt fate? After all I got to eat black-eyed peas for another year with the woman I love.

timeThe reality is that time (or a specific year) has little to do with how fulfilled I am in this life. Of course there have been plenty of crappy years but there have been many amazing years as well. We remember the year our well went dry (literally) – 1997 but we also cherish the memory of holding our newborns for the first time – so 1978, 1980 and 1983 were good years!

Still for me, it’s the countless nano-seconds of time that have most touched my heart and nourished my soul. A smile. A kiss. A gentle touch. A kind word. A thank you. A prayer. A hug. Those are the times that have mattered most. Sometimes fleeting and seemingly forgotten they are embedded so deeply in my psyche that they define me.

Watching the sun come up over the horizon. Witnessing a first step. Watching as a diploma was received. Exchanging vows. Looking on as snow gently falls from the sky. Hearing a song so beautiful that it brings tears to my eyes. Laughing until my sides hurt. This is time well spent. These are my glimpses of heaven.

I’m sure that I could benefit from some New Year’s resolutions. I know that this year could be the year that I finally improve myself (but not likely). Instead of trying to lose that extra 15 pounds or meet that savings plan goal or become fluent in Spanish, I think that I will slow myself down a bit and try to pay more attention to the small things.

Time flies. I just don’t want it to fly away without squeezing a little joy out of it.

Peace,

Denis

P.S. We’ve have managed to share some joyful time together.  (Happy Anniversary Deb)

 

  

I Still Do…

When I was just 19 years old I made a promise to love and honor and cherish my wife until death. That was 42 years ago. I still do.

Wedding DayWe were poor. We were young. We had little idea as to what we were getting ourselves into. The odds-makers were probably calling us a long-shot. I still do.

We came from different backgrounds. We are about as physically dissimilar as two persons could be. We hadn’t finished college. We had no career plans. We disagreed on which side of the sink dishes should be washed and I argued with her about silly things, like which toothpaste was superior – Colgate or Crest. I still do.

In some ways, the changes in our life have been profound – we have 3 children and 5 grandchildren (all beautiful reflections of our love for one another). In other ways, not much has changed – Debbie still usually gets her way (haven’t seen Colgate in our house for 40+ years). Early in our marriage, I thought it was worth “giving in” just to see her smile. I still do.

1-4-17Our journey together has been one of discovery. There have been good times and bad. But one thing is clear – we’re in this together. We have traveled the world and lived abroad. We have survived a couple of career changes. We have buried loved ones; welcomed new family members and made life-long friends. We have cried tears of joy and tears of sorrow. I’ve always believed that my partner and best friend is at my side. I still do.

So we’re a bit mismatched and we’re a long-shot. And we probably made a big mistake getting married so young. We’ve stumbled through life, at times never knowing what was ‘waiting around the bend’, and we’ve made lots of stupid choices. Yet I believe that God meant for us to be together in this crazy, messy, risky, loved-filled, wonderful life. And I still do.

Peace,

Denis

 

 

 

Love Endures

mom dad weddingIn 1947 an 18 year-old girl named Dot and an (almost) 21 year-old guy named George tied the knot. He having recently completed his stint with the Navy in World War II and she fresh off the farm, these two kids met in August of 1946 and were married the following spring. For him it was love at first sight. For her it took a little convincing but not too much.

Sixty-nine years, four children, seven grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren (with an eleventh on the way) later, my parents are celebrating their wedding anniversary. And their love endures.

In an ever-changing world they have been a constant in my life. They have shared good times and bad. They have laughed and cried together. They have worked hard and played even harder. And their love endures.

Their marriage has survived 12 U.S presidents, 7 popes, the Korean War, Frank Sinatra, the building and demolition of the Berlin Wall, the Cold War, Elvis Presley, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy Assassination, the Vietnam War, the Tonight Show, the political turbulence and racial unrest of the 1960’s, the Beatles, the Moon Landing, the “Me Decade” of the 1970’s, disco music, the Watergate Scandal, the Aids epidemic, Reaganomics, the technological advances of the 1990’s, Madonna and Michael Jackson, the Oklahoma City bombing, Oprah Winfrey, the 2000 millennium, Nancy Grace and Doctor Phil, hip-hop, 9-11, American Idol, gay marriage, iPhones, iPads and cars that can parallel park themselves. And their love endures.

mom dad 69I am blessed to be equal parts of both of them. I’d like to think that I’m the best parts of both of them. I know that I have Dad’s ears and chin and forehead and well, pretty much everything else. But the important parts are less about physical attributes and genetics and more about what has been imparted. Mom taught me how to pray. Dad taught me how to tell a good joke. Mom taught me the importance of cleanliness. Dad taught me the importance of family. Mom taught me how to do math in my head. Dad taught me how to build and fix things (and how to cuss when things don’t build or fix easily). Mom taught me that “early risers” get to enjoy the best part of the day. Dad taught me that watching old movies late at night can be just as rewarding. They both taught me how to love.

And Dad gave me the best advice ever on my wedding day. “When you have a fight, and you will, always be the first one to say you’re sorry. It won’t matter if she’s wrong and you’re right – just say you’re sorry. It’ll be the truth, too. Because you’ll be sorry that you fought.” I’ve never forgotten Dad’s words.

Having raised my own family and watching my grandkids growing up, I realize how important family is to me. I also know that the legacy of love and devotion of Dot and George will live on in generations yet to come.

Because their love endures.

Peace,

Denis

 

 

 

 

From Forty To Forever…

Today is our 40th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe that Debbie and I have been married for forty years. In some ways it feels like yesterday that we walked down the aisle and then there are days when it seems that we’ve been together forever. At least I know that we will stay together forever. And always in love.

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SIGNING OUR MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE ~ Don’t think we had any idea what we were signing up for in 1975

I’m a lucky man. My wife is still as beautiful as the day we married. She still makes me laugh everyday (mostly at myself). She has helped me become the man who I hoped I could be – worthy of her love. She has been by my side through it all. Never behind me; never in front of me; always beside me. Equal partners.

Marriage is supposed to be 50/50 but successful couples will tell you that sometimes it’s 80/20 or 40/60 and that each partner sometimes carries the extra load for the other. In the long run it truly is 50/50 but knowing when you need to give more and take less is the secret to happiness. That and honesty and respect. And of course love.

So we’ve been blessed these forty years with love and respect and honesty and laughter. We have three beautiful children: Tyson who has his mother’s tender heart. Bess who shares Deb’s spirit of fun and adventure and faithfulness. Blake who embraces her caring nature and compassion. They are our jewels; they are our treasures.

The best parts of our married life have made the tough parts worth it all. We’ve carried each other on this journey when necessary but mostly we’ve walked hand in hand. I started out thinking in 1975 that we were somehow headed toward a goal – Financial success? Maturity? Stability? Marital bliss? But through these forty years I’ve come to realize that the journey’s the thing. That’s our legacy. That somehow through good and bad; thick and thin, we’ve made it. We’ve remained side by side. Never behind. Never in front. Always beside.

And I can’t imagine any other life. Any other love. Any other girl.

Peace,

Denis

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

 

 

 

We Fell In Love And There’s No Way Out!

Wedding DayYears ago there was a country song by that name. And while it was a spoof (of sorts) it rang true to us then and it still does today. On January 4, 1975 Deb and I got married. That was 39 years ago! We’ve had good days and bad days but through it all we have remained in love. And we have shared laughter nearly each and every day. Neither of us knew back in 1975 what our lives would become and sometimes (most times actually) it’s still a journey of discovery.

But even in times of heartbreak and uncertainty one thing is clear – we’re in this together. And we have been blessed. We have three beautiful children and four even more beautiful grandchildren. We have traveled the world and lived abroad. We have survived a couple of career changes. We have buried loved ones; welcomed new family members and made life-long friends. We have cried tears of joy and tears of sorrow. So we indeed have fallen into it. Into love. Into life.

It’s been quite an adventure. We’ve witnessed some amazing things. We’ve worked hard; played hard and tried to keep Christ in the center of our lives. Those of you who know us, know that I’m the organizer, the planner, the pusher/puller – always trying to keep things moving; to get us to our destination. Deb is the heart and soul of our family; she’s the care-giver; the nurturer; the “slow down and smell the roses” – always reminding us to savor the journey. We are the proverbial tortoise and hare. Me all “hurry, hurry”; she all “take it easy”. It can be confounding at times but we’ve managed somehow.

As far as the laughter, it has been a constant throughout our marriage. Check out our wedding day photo. Once a friend viewed this picture and asked, “In what kind of church did you two get married?” Her reason for asking? She had never seen a ceremony where the bride knelt down in front of the groom. We both broke up in laughter. Our friend seemed confused and embarrassed by our response. Why the laughter? Because Deb is standing in the photo. She and I just happen to be over a foot different in height!

So yes, as the songs goes, “we fell in love and there’s no way out!”

EnglandBut then again, why would we want out???

Peace,

Denis