The best choice I ever made
30 years ago at the hour of this very writing, I was a hot, sweaty mess.
In a tuxedo, no less.
I was in a church in tiny Galloway, Wisconsin, one that was packed with relatives and friends as well as a whole bunch of people I knew precious little about.
Now they're my in-laws.
I stood at the altar, feeling very old and wise for my 26 years on the planet. I had a job--in Milwaukee, no less which to me was like Paris--and I thought I had it all figured out. I had a livable wage, a decent job, a car that didn't break down on a monthly basis. There was nothing life could roll my way that I figured I couldn't handle, even marriage. Yet there still were butterflies the size of condors in my gut, worries about the day coming off and the honeymoon destination and, oh yeah, that thing called the rest of our lives together. Had I made the right choice, and, even more so, would I be a decent husband to this woman I cared so much about?
My personal history should've told me otherwise. I'd made some truly questionable if not horrible choices in life. I rolled the dice and left college after just two years to take a radio job in Stevens Point. I wore really big glasses with really thick lenses, the kind that could start fires if the angle of the sun was JUST right. I had a flimsy mustache that I thought added age but only showed how I was trying to act mature beyond my years. Don't even let me get started about my hair--a black mop with a part. And then there are my automotive selections: an AMC Pacer (with snazzy wood panel trim!), followed by a yellow Chevette.
Yet on that day 30 years ago, I was making the best decision of my life.
We weren't perfect together, certainly not the first couple of years. Time has a way of teaching you lessons, of showing you how to accept and bend and compromise and respect. It also opens your eyes to the awesome realization that marriage gives what you commit to it, provided you made a solid choice in a mate to begin with.
As former Packer John Jurkovic is fond of saying about his wife, Brandi: "Gentlemen, I out-kicked my coverage."
Whole books have been written on what love is, and I can't define it in a blog. Much like a supper club, I know it when I see. I still get the tingle every time I see my wife across a room. I'm still amazed at her thoughtfulness (not my strong point), her ability to pick the absolutely perfect gift for me (another personal failing), her tolerance for my bad habits (of which there are many) and her capacity to forgive no matter how egregious my most recent failing (too numerous to mention).
She looked at that hot, sweaty tuxedoed mess at the altar that afternoon three decades ago and decided not to turn around and run. Two became one, and the one that's writing this became a whole lot better.
Some of the folks who were there that afternoon aren't here any more. 30 years is a long time. Long enough to cultivate a career. Long enough to shave off a cheesy mustache, to get a better haircut and more fashionable eyewear. Long enough to find a better car or two. Long enough to start a family and to see two kids become young, intelligent adults. Long enough to appreciate the best choice I ever made.
Happy Anniversary, LuAnn.