Today John and I have been married 22 years. Our marriage is so old that it could’ve ordered a beer last year. That’s old. The great truth I have learned is that the longer you are married the less you expect of your spouse and the more you expect of yourself. I have learned much from this opposite I married.
In the infancy of our dating period, John cooked dinner for me. In his deadpan humor he teased me about my utensil usage. Manners being of paramount importance to me, I was devastated. I wept on the phone to my Mom and Dad that night. “Mother, he criticized me for not using a knife on his chicken. It was a free-standing chicken breast. Very. Tender. He. Thinks. I do. Not. Have. Mannnnnerss.”
I could literally hear my Southern Mother’s neck hair stand up through the phone. “It is completely acceptable to use a fork to cut ANY poultry which is not on the bone.” Miss Manners replied. My Father had more pedestrian words to offer, “Reel him into the boat and if you get him in there and don’t want him, you can always throw him back” My bruised feelings over his imagined criticism quickly faded but my romantic feelings did not.
I couldn’t throw him back. I was smitten from the first time I saw him walk across campus with his monogrammed L.L.Bean book bag. He had me at the monogrammed L.L.Bean book bag. In a sea of Divinity students who not only exegeted Hebrew passages about Noah’s flood but appeared by their pant length to be anticipating a second one, John was a stand-out.
We actually first met six years prior to seminary when my high school choir sang at his home church in Tyler. They were one of our “concert” stops. Such the Baptist love story. I briefly dated one of his high school buddies and after college in Seminary this guy kept telling me that I looked familiar. He connected the dots before I did and we have been together ever since.
The first time John came home to Houston, my Father greeted him with a huge bear hug. The look on John’s face was reminiscent of the picture of Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby. He comes from a long line of hand-shakers which is totally great, just different from that which I was accustomed. I have come to realize that life is not done your way or the wrong way. These are the things you do not necessarily know going in.
Tonight James Taylor is in town. He was so sweet to schedule this date for us. I have loved his music since college. His is the first song on the first mix tape I ever made for John and I labored to his greatest hits with both of my children. James is boss. So we will celebrate this love God has graciously given and the love we have chosen to stick with in good times and bad. His book bag and dark hair are gone but he will forever have me: heart and soul.