When I was young, I dreamed of never leaving the tiny farming town I grew up in. I dreamed of marrying a boy from that town and having tons of children and living in a big house on cobbled Woodstock Street. I never wanted to leave, not ever.
On September 20, 1980, I met the man of my dreams who just so happened to not be a townsboy and I fell deeply in love.
It’s really not so amazing that so many songs are written about love, so many stories, and movies because love changes everything, it really does. We all know it, we all want it, we all need it, we all want to give it, and we all want to receive it.
We did not have an easy start, my family had called a “meeting” to discuss my upcoming wedding, and they shared their concerns for me marrying a man who was very worrisome for them. A bad boy, with a bad boy reputation, and seemingly lack of drive, who was arguably a nonconformist (this being a true bone of contention). When I sat there listening, my heart ached that they were so myopic to the love that I felt. I know they were perplexed because I was not rash, I had worked caring for the terminally ill for a long time already, I was steady, strong, how could I have gone so wrong to fall in love with this man?
When they were done, I said, “Well, I guess we aren’t going to talk about the color of the bridesmaids dresses then.” And I stood up and walked home, I wept for just a step or two, and then I nearly ran back into his arms as he waited for me. I told him the truth, and saw the sadness flash across his face, and we sealed the deal right then and there, knowing that marrying him I would have to forsake my family. It broke my heart, but at the same time, I could not begin to explain, as a young 22-year-old woman, to those so much wiser than I, that I believed in this man, he had more integrity and truth in him than anyone I had ever met. It’s the very things they didn’t see that I fell in love with. Truth, honesty, strength, vulnerability, courage. He just needed someone to believe, and I was she.
So a few months later, I packed my 1974 orange Vega hatchback with all my belongings and my dog and his cat and I didn’t even so much as look in the rearview mirror as I drove away from the town of my dreams.
And I have not looked back since. Oh, it took a few years, but eventually the family came around, we understood actually, not even with hindsight, right then and there, we understood that Rick was not like anyone else in our family, he broke from the ideal. Even now, we would be worried if our children fell in love with someone like him, we would, we’ve said it. Not all bad boys can resist being a bad boy, and by the way we lived out the reputation for a year or two, and I quite enjoyed it. But, we had settled down in many ways that people could not necessarily see, and that bad boy brought out the fight in this good girl, and this good girl brought out the beautiful spirit of that bad boy, simply because she offered him a safe place to bring it, so it would grow to encompass all those family members in that room so many years ago, 33 years ago in fact.
He would become one of the most beloved brothers, he would drop everything to drive into the city to dig his dad’s car out of the el strip in Cicero after a snow storm so his dad wouldn’t have to, and never say a word. Just let his dad be surprised. He’s so amazing, he really is. He loves his children, his wife, his work, his family, our family, my brothers and sisters, especially my twin. He loves his Lord.
He loves a love story, don’t give him an action film. Please let him cry, and it’s okay to make fun of him as we all sniffle and wipe our noses on our sleeves. It’s who we are and who we’ve become in this wedded bliss. It came the hard way, with a stint of therapy in there somewhere, putting it all on the line, that’s what we did and continue to do.
It’s a perfect life, it really is. I would normally be afraid to say something so bold as that, lest a bolt of lightning strike and rip this all apart, but the truth is, when you’ve been together for as long as we have, you’ve already suffered a few lightning bolts, or the other shoe dropping, or pain, and loss and disappointments along with sheer joy, and the shared memories, and the songs that bring us to tears, and laughing, we laugh a lot, the arguments and the making up, and kisses that are so sweet and passionate and the best thing on the planet. You can’t be afraid to say it’s perfect, you can’t because there is no such thing as tempting fate, because when you are afraid, you hold back, and we aren’t the type to hold back. Nope, we aren’t.
So, I don’t mind saying it’s a perfect life, because it is, simply. For us.