In June of this year Margaret and I shall be married seventeen years. It goes against every superstitious bone in my Gaelic being to broadcast that fact this far in advance of our anniversary date. Yet based upon how the first almost-two decades of our relationship have unfolded, I am willing to gamble on the fact that no one shall change her medication and/or she shall not fall and strike her head again - either of which might alert her to the fact that....well to the fact that while I reached up to the Tree of Life to choose my plum she bent down and grabbed whatever gnarled, rotting piece of fruit she found nearby.
It's A Wonderful Life is among my favorite films. We watch George Bailey reduced from participant in his world to spectator of events in a world to which he no longer belongs. George lives through the experience of seeing what the lives of those around him would have been like has his desperate, quasi-suicidal wish come true. He gets to see the world without him in it. And he is appropriately shaken to his core by what he sees.
From time to time I think about the likely course of my life had Margaret and I not met, fallen in love (or in her case been adequately and perpetually sedated) and married. It is difficult to do simply because she and I have occupied the same space for so long that it is hard, sometimes, to recall life before her. But when the notions knocking around inside of my head crystallize into a full-fledged thought I remember what life was like "back in the day" (a time so long ago coincidentally that no one yet said, "back in the day" when talking about the past). Absent her entry into my life, I not only would not have had her keeping me in line and out of trouble all of these years but I would not have had Suzanne or Rob either. When you jump into the deep end of the adulthood pool by grabbing a "twofer" and become a husband and a father of two simultaneously, you not only appreciate both but also the chasm that would be left in your heart if you had neither.
My wife is a truly remarkable woman. I love with every ounce of the little charcoal briquette that I call my heart. A valentine for all seasons. Regardless of the date on the calendar.
I did not write it but I am glad that Mr. Lofgren did as I neither could have said it nor sung it any better:
Today I'm thinkin' about the world we live in
All the love and hate that's floatin' around
All the times I felt so lost and helpless
You stood by me, you never let me down
Still I keep throwin' up these walls
Most of them I've built with stones
You tear 'em down and bridge the distance
Knowin' we ain't here to be alone
So let your blue heart open wide
Let's never leave our dreams behind
It would comfort and restore my pride
If you let me be your valentine
Our differences are part of life
Still love will pass the test of time
I want you everyday and night
Girl, won't you be my valentine
be my valentine
Be my valentine
Be my valentine