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!)



The House That Love Built

My wife and I have been married for a while. We’ve weathered our fair share of storms through the years. Money problems; career challenges; parenthood; health issues; the loss of loved ones; 2020.

Somehow we’ve always held on; held out; held up. I know that we’ve been blessed with some great fortune. Not the monetary kind but the true treasure in life – loving family and friends and faith in God. I also believe that early on in our marriage we learned some valuable lessons in humility. Those humbling experiences weren’t fun at the time but they strengthened us and tempered our resolve to make our marriage work – even on the worst days.

Respect for one another is a big part of our success as couple. Folks say that marriage should be 50/50 but those of us who have been at it for a while know that sometimes it’s 80/20 or 30/70 and you have to step in and step up for your spouse when they need you. Being respectful to the one you love when they need more from you than they can give in return is challenging. It requires patience from the giver and humility from the receiver. I believe that it is even more challenging when you’re the one who needs to be carried for a time. But that’s what love is. Love builds us up. Love holds us together. Love gives us the strength to be the “carrier” and the grace to be the “carried”.

This has been a tough year for most people but at the end of each day I am blessed to able to look back and realize, once again, that I have had an amazing partner by my side. We’ve laughed and cried. We’ve cursed and prayed. And yet, even in 2020 somehow we’ve managed to hold on, hold out, and hold up.

When we were first married we had no idea what lie ahead. Perhaps that’s a good thing. Predictable journeys are, well predictable. Ours has been a serious of adventures. We’ve been surprised, heartbroken, blessed, scared and delighted along the way. We’ve grown up (and grown older) through it all. And we’re still standing…



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.



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.

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.






I Must Have Done Something Good

There’s a song from the musical The Sound of Music with the line “somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good”. To be honest, I sometimes feel that way. I have received so much in this life that I don’t deserve; that I didn’t earn; that should have been given to someone more worthy. Loving children. Perfect grandchildren. Family and friends that have carried me along on my journey. A comfortable home. A career that I’m proud of. But mostly my beautiful wife.

Deb, “here I am standing here loving you, whether or not I should…”

My wife, my love, my life. We have defied all odds: married too young; too poor; under-educated; having children when we were barely adults ourselves; career disasters; job changes; money troubles; moving out of state and out the country and back again. And yet, here we are still together. Forever.

Your birthday seems like a perfect time to tell you what you mean to me. When I try to put it in to words it all seems too simple; too ordinary. I love you. The end. But it’s so much more that.

BirthdayNo one gets to me the way you do. No one can make me feel as passionate as you. No one can push me to the edge and then pull me back quite like you. No one lights up a room like you. No one can make me laugh at myself harder than you can. You have shared my happiest days and my moments of utter despair. You have held my hand as I have walked through good times and bad. You keep me grounded and you give me wings. I have witnessed your exquisite beauty, your kindness, your gentleness and your strength countless times and I am still in awe.

And you still do that thing to me that no one else can do: You make me want to be a better man. Thank you for loving me all these years.

I must have done something good…

Happy Birthday,


Run Away With Me

Today I turn 60.

I’ve been thinking lately that my life is best described as a journey. Not so much one long journey but instead it’s been a series of many journeys. Some pleasant. Some mundane. Some exquisite. Some devastating. Some planned. Some unexpected. One journey after another. Another day. Another journey.

The constant in all this journeying is my beautiful wife Deborah. Over 40 years ago I asked if she would run away with me and she said yes. And that’s how it’s been ever since. Always side by side on this crazy ride. Pushing and pulling each other along the way, we’ve made the best of it all and never regretted the journey’s twists and turns. Sometimes holding on to one another in delight or terror. Still we’ve made our way.

I know that there are no guarantees in life (except that it will end one day) so I will take it one day at a time. It’s said that man plans and God laughs. I prefer to think that every step of our journey together, whether planned or unplanned, has been ordained by the mystery of God’s love for us. And I’m sure we’ve given God plenty to laugh about!

boatAll I know is I must have done something good along the way because Deb agreed to run away with me all those years ago and we’ve kept running. And the older I get the more I realize that where we’re headed is nothing compared to journeying there together. On those darkest days, when all seems lost, I look beside me and know that everything will be alright. When happiness abounds, I know that it’s because of the love she brings to my life. And once again I thank God.

I asked her to run away with me and she said yes! And the journey continues…

So today is my birthday but I don’t need to blow out any candles.

Deb, you already know my wish. Let’s go!




Why My Aunt Loretta Is The Reason I Was Born

My parents met in 1946.

Dad had been honorably discharged from the Navy and returned to his hometown. Young and restless after having seen the horrors of the Pacific in WWII and more of the world than he had ever imagined, he was living with his parents, his grandmother, three of his aunts and his two younger brothers in a cramped house. He was ready to be on his own!

Mom had recently left the family farm and had moved in with her married sister and her family to be near the shoe factory where she had found employment. Factory work wasn’t easy but it was easier than life on the farm, caring for a widowed father and an invalid brother. She was ready to be on her own!

On that fateful day in August, Mom was walking home from her job at Brown Shoe Factory with a co-worker named Wayne. Dad was tooling around town in his car and spotted Wayne, who was an old school freind, walking with a pretty young girl. Dad pulled over and asked Wayne if he and his girlfriend would like a ride. Wayne’s response: “Sure George, but she’s not my girlfriend.”

And off they went with Mom in the front seat between Dad and Wayne. Dad, ever the sly one, dropped buddy Wayne off first so he could be alone with Mom. Mom remembers hugging the passenger door and leaning as far away from ‘The Stranger’ as possible. She thought he was handsome and friendly but maybe too friendly. She was releaved to be safely dropped at her sister’s door.

Before driving away Dad asked Mom out – that night. There was a VJ (Victory over Japan) Day dance that evening and he was a returning Vet and she would make him so happy if she would be his date. She thanked him for the ride home but gave him the “brush off” by telling him that she was busy.


Dot and George ~ Still in love after all these years

Dad, never one to take no an answer, went home, cleaned up and put on his best suit and showed up at Aunt Loretta and Uncle Les’ door to pick up his date in time for the big dance. When Mom realized he was there she ran upstairs and asked her sister to lie and say she wasn’t there. But Aunt Loretta must have seen something in Dad that Mom hadn’t seen, in her haste to get away from him earlier that day, or perhaps she just wanted Mom out of her house.

So Aunt Loretta yelled up the steps, “Dot, your date’s here!” And the rest is history.

That was 70 years ago and Mom and Dad are still in love and just recently celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary.

We lost Aunt Loretta a few years ago but I can still hear her laugh and say, “You can thank me! If I hadn’t opened that door back in August 1946, none of you would kids be here today!”

And so it is…



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.

wedding marriage license

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.



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




May I have a seat at this table?

Mass began on Sunday with the hymn “All Are Welcome In This Place.  I love this song and I truly felt welcomed and joyful. But not for long…

TableOur transitional deacon (he plans to be ordained next year) was the homilist. Like many of the newer priests and deacons this guy is an ultra-conservative. He took it upon himself to “set the record straight” on the recent Synod on Family taking place in Rome. This synod is a big deal (or should be) for Catholics. Pope Francis convened the bishops of the world to discuss the Church’s teachings on matters such as divorce, same-sex marriage, family planning, in-vitro fertilization and euthanasia. Initial press reports indicated, in my opinion, some much needed reform. Our young deacon felt the need to explain that the media had distorted the message of the synod and launched into a diatribe about abortion and marriage. No mention was made of the Church’s stance on capital punishment or preference for the poor, instead he only focused on sexual sin. He affirmed that NO CHANGE IN CHURCH DOCTRINE WOULD EVER HAPPEN. Because we live in a upper middle-class community in a very conservative state, most in attendance seemed to be comforted by his words. I was not.

I couldn’t help but think of the countless couples in our church being denied communion because of divorce and remarriage. My heart broke for those members of our parish who are gay or lesbian – once again being made to feel that they are not worthy. And what of the parents and friends in our parish community who have loved ones no longer welcomed? Instead of reaching out to us, with the love of Christ, this deacon took an opportunity to remind us of THE RULES.

So while we were all singing,Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace; Here the love of Christ shall end divisions”, this deacon was no doubt mulling over just how he was going to impress upon us that we are indeed divided, and that we should put aside any hopes and dreams and visions of a loving, all-inclusive Church. This made me very sad. And I am especially sad for this soon-to-be priest. How will he ever shepherd, if he is blind to so many in his flock?

At the conclusion of the Synod on the Family, Pope Francis warned some in the hierarchy, “(There is) a temptation toward hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises; within the law, we remain within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve.”

Maybe someday I’ll get a seat at the table where we’re all welcome. I love the God of surprises!



The Long and Short of It

My beautiful wife Debbie is 4′-11″ tall. I’m 6′-1″. Height differences have been challenging at times to say the least. Disagreements about where things should be placed (top shelf or bottom shelf; overhead or underneath) have been a source of conflict through the years. Also purchasing furniture, cabinets, and automobiles that fit both of us can be quite challenging. Our daily lives have been consumed with readjusting mirrors, car seats, step stools, computer monitors, and anything else that will allow height accommodations. We are simply physically mismatched.

Deb meOf course our physical differences are just part of the challenge. I’m all – hurry, hurry let’s go! She’s all – slow down; calm down. I need a well thought-out plan. She runs on feelings and often laughs at my plans. I’m an early bird that loves to rise and shine. She’s a night owl who requires silence and coffee in the morning. I’m very linear. She usually colors outside the lines.

Through the years we have learned that differences are not detrimental to a successful relationship. In fact, just the opposite. My wife and I actually complement one another. We fill in each others voids. We carry one another when necessary. I realize that life with another person just like me would be boring. And I also believe that two Debbies could be disaster (or far too much fun depending on your perspective).

Our marriage might serve as an example for others. If we can get along, so can you. And so should nations, political parties, neighborhoods, schools districts, churches, and kids on the playground. Being different from one another needn’t make us enemies. Respecting the talents and gifts that we each share is worth the risk of not always being right.

Deb and I somehow have managed to live together in spite of our 14″ difference in height. Her hand rests perfectly inside mine. And the other differences usually sort themselves out, too. I suppose abundant love and unending patience helps. But I suspect that sometimes it’s just not worth the fight. That’s why God created adjustable car seats and step stools.

 While we were living in England a cabbie once chuckled as we entered his taxi and said, “Well Governor, you two are certainly the long and short of it!” We all shared a good laugh.

Of course he had no idea that we fit so well together…



P.S. Happy Birthday Deb! I love you and I love the fact that we are indeed ‘the long and short of it’.