For my beloved wife:
I would like to take a moment to “out” myself as being hopelessly in love with my wife of over 21 years. Call me crazy, but I look at her and still see the lovely girl I married all those years ago. Of course, it’s one thing to say it to her in in our home, on the phone, when passing her in kitchen, when waking up, or going to bed – but I wanted to say it more loudly, without shouting it from the rooftop.
My wife is a woman of very deep emotion, and often few words to indicate what swirls in those depths. I cannot usually read the details, but the emotions are loud and clear most of the time. This year her birthday was a milestone at that point in life when birthdays just serve as a reminder how much older you’re getting. As usual, disasters tend occur on her birthday – either environmentally catastrophic ones like Hurricanes Isaac and Katrina, or personal ones like children destroying old photographs, the cat shredding the VHS video of her wedding, or the children shattering one of her favorite things. This year circumstances conspired with me to do something for her and the children simultaneously (our youngest daughter would turn 7 our first day at Disney!) and avoid the birthday disaster zone for her. I wanted to give her memories, happy ones. Both of us are big fans of Disney in general and I dare say we would both call it our “Happy Place”. Her parents never took her as a child. So when we first went to the one in Anaheim while I was stationed in San Diego, she too was hooked. I thought about this beforehand and moved heaven and earth in the background to make it happen for the whole family – so we would all have those memories together.
You see, of all the things I could give to her or the children – happy memories are one thing they can never break, never lose, and they can never be stolen. The best part is that when viewed in hindsight even the small burbles in the trip are filtered out by the brain and the happiest moments are the ones in sharp focus. We have both reached a point where neither of us want things anymore. I still bought her a bouquet of flowers on her actual birthday and took her to dinner – but did not bother with trying to purchase useless trinkets to clutter our lives or desk drawers. One day both of us will be gone, and unless we are very lucky (like a few recent couples in the news) we will endure some period of time on earth with nothing but our memories of each other to sustain us outside of God. After we are gone from this world, we will only exist in the memories of our children and the memories of people whose lives we managed to touch in some special way. Make those memories happy ones.
Literally a couple of weeks prior I had taken her and the whole brood, unexpected by everyone in both the style we stayed and the timing, to DisneyWorld in Florida. Our 7 year old got to eat with Winnie the pooh for lunch, and attended Cinderella’s wedding banquet and got to meet the entire wedding party for dinner! My wife loves the characters, as much as the children – and all the roller coasters you can find. I saw to it that they got to eat lunch and dinner almost every day in a character dining experience and put them in an upscale resort, instead of the value resort or the Days Inn an hour away. Having done Disney many times over the years – this was by far the best trip of them all. We had time in the middle of our park hopping to enjoy the nice resort, and with the deluxe dining plan the ability to sample restaurants and cuisine at the parks finer venues which thrilled my culinarily inclined wife to no end. The children cheered over not having to eat chicken nuggets or Pizza every time we supped, as the quick service value dining plan reduced us to previously. Most importantly, the week was filled with smiles and happy memories of time together for all from end to end. (Highly recommend the Port Orleans Riverside Resort, Park Hopper passes, and the Deluxe Dining Plan!)
Whether you are a Catholic or not, there is a lesson here. Life is not about money or things, it’s about experiences and memories. Whether they be catching a fish, floating a river, exploring a cave, hiking in the woods, throwing a ball, playing a game, floating down a river, going to the beach, or going to Disney World. Memories are more valuable than things – all the expensive gifts in the world will never make up for your presence, for saying I love you, and for all those moments we fail to take the opportunity to make a happy memory. What do you think?
Yours in Christ,