LIFE LESSONS CONTINUED • Love And Marriage

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I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, maybe even more than usual. I have one of those unfortunate minds that rarely stops, which contributes to sometimes fascinating, often irrational and occasionally humorous dreams. For years, I have compared my brain to the old cartoon character, Ricochet Rabbit, who pinballed from spot to spot with a "ping, ping, ping" sound effect. Frankly, I'm amazed I've been able to accomplish what I have over the years with that hamster wheel continually turning.

Not that I want to sound like every other older person from the past 100 years, but I keep trying to figure out where all the time has gone. More specifically, where has MY time gone. How did I get from that 18-almost 19-year-old girl wrapping up final details for our wedding to a 58-year-old planning a 40th anniversary celebration for Randy and me. Forty years sounds like an eternity yet it's gone by so quickly it's scary.

Our marriage hasn't been a fairy tale by any means, unless you're a fan of the Grimm brothers, yet thanks to God, perseverance and maybe just dumb luck, here we are. Still married, for the most part happily, and looking forward to possible part-time retirement in a couple of years so we can spend more time together. We're blessed indeed to be able to say that, for many reasons.

Randy gets upset when I say it, but we–especially me–were too young to get married when we did. It wasn't uncommon in that time; many high school friends did the same, some with good results, others ending in divorce. I was way too immature which caused major issues for many years. Eventually, as most of us do, I finally grew up and parts of our life settled down.

We had a son, Brent, followed by a miscarraige then two more sons, Bryan and Bryce. We lived in a house on 80 acres with a frightening mortgage and tried to eek out a living with Randy farming and me working an office job. Money was always tight but our boys enjoyed typical farm life by playing in the hayloft, building forts and not worrying about how loud they screamed when jumping on the trampoline, whacking each other with pool noodles.

Farming was not kind to us, and we eventually called it quits. Randy had been working additional jobs for several years anyway, and I went back to school to try and get some kind of degree to earn more money. A few years later, we were able to sell our farm house and the 11 acres we still owned so we could build a house in Nokomis. It was a bit of an adjustment for Randy, who had always lived in the country, but the boys were happy to be closer to civilization, friends and activities.

That move blessed us with three great neighbors: the Guyots to the north, the Jansens to the south and the Dirks across the road. Mr. and Mrs. Jansen moved a few years later due to poor health and aging difficulties, but Randy so enjoyed visiting with Jim Guyot when he would come over, sit in our garage and talk with Randy while he worked on one project or another. Randy also loved going across to Dirks to shoot the bull with Dave and his son, Mike, in their auto repair shop. These neighbors would do anything for you, including Dave and Mike gathering up Bryce's belongings out of his smashed Trailblazer after his accident and death. 

By that time, grandchildren had entered our world with a few more to follow. We were empty nesters looking to downsize which is how we landed where we are now, back in my hometown of Taylor Springs. We're situated just on the edge of town which allows us to enjoy seeing deer fairly often, along with wild turkeys and the occasional red fox or coyote. Randy's happy because we're both close to work but he also feels a little closer to the country life than in Nokomis.

I don't know why God chose to bless us with marriage longevity when so many other couples struggle and finally call it quits. When Bryce died, we thankfully grew closer together. Many times, the death of a child contributes to the death of a marriage. I can't imagine trying to navigate that pain and grief without the support of Randy. Last month, when Randy's cousin lost her 59-year-old husband to esophageal cancer, we again talked about how lucky we are to have had each other for so long. She lost her soulmate and best friend after less than 15 years. Our hearts break for her sorrow.

The Lord knows I didn't deserve a husband who would stand by me and still love me through all my angry years, job changes, depression, bad haircuts, snoring, and dog adoptions, but He gave me one anyway. I'm eternally thankful for the past 40 years of ups and downs and pray we have at least another 20 in our future.

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