Yesterday my dad flew me and my family to Ohio to surprise my mother for her 70th birthday. Amidst all the hubbub, he handed her this letter. She waited to read it when the crowd was gone. I got to read it this morning and was so moved, I had to share it with the world. Here’s to love, and to men who aren’t afraid to express it.
TO MY AGELESS BEAUTY ON HER 70TH BIRTHDAY
This letter is not about you and me. We have loved each other for so many decades that little more needs be said about the decision we made to share our lives and the love affair that has lasted for so many years and that will continue for the rest of our lives.
This letter is about you. You are in every respect the most beautiful person I have ever known or ever will know. So, let me reminisce a bit about you (and, inevitably, a bit about us) on this, your 70th birthday.
The beginning. The first moment I laid eyes on you, I was smitten with your physical beauty. You were stunning. Your smile melted me. I had never seen such beauty. I wondered, before I ever knew your name, whether I would ever be so lucky to find someone half as beautiful as you to love me.
You were so kind. You asked me to square dance. I had never done it before. But, you made it easy, and you made me feel at ease. And just the fact that you picked me from that gaggle of goofy freshman boys caused my heart to soar.
You were so optimistic and full of the joy of life. You were thoughtful and reflective. You wrote in “Retreata.” We talked about wonderful things, both important and philosophical and silly and funny. You wrote me notes and put them in my mailbox. You always left me good luck wishes before every road trip for football or basketball. You made me feel good.
You were so intelligent. You were the darling of the poli sci department. You were the one they chose to escort President Eisenhower on campus. Professor McGee and Professor Fletcher loved you. They loved your enthusiasm for the life around you. And they admired your intellect. And, I have always believed that because you had chosen me, Professor Fletcher went to that extra effort to help me get into Cornell Law School.
You were so purposeful and disciplined. You made lists of things to do with little circles to fill in when you finished each task. You did the things you said you would do, and you did them timely. You taught me to be disciplined also . . . well, sort of.
We kissed on the bridge at the “Dean Woodsy” house party. You have no idea what a thrill that was for me. We kissed that winter night all alone on the campus walk with the snow falling on your cheeks. We spent those lazy Sunday afternoons in “open rooms.” And, you loved to make out. 🙂 I was a lucky boy.
And you agreed to marry me –the single best thing that has ever happened to me in life and the single best thing that made all the other things that followed possible, including our wonderful children and grandchildren.
The mid-years. You put up with a camping trip through Canada for a honeymoon. Who but an incredible woman would do that? You lasted three days sleeping in a tent, more than any new husband had a right to ask of his bride. You let me zip the sleeping bags together, even though we were both a little stinky from the lack of a shower. You let me love you. And, then, let me drive my buns off to Ottawa, so we could be in a hotel. How incredible you were. How wonderful you were for me and to me.
That first night at Cornell at the new law student reception. I was excited for people to see you, to see this incredibly beautiful woman who had chosen to marry me. “This is my wife, Laurie.” How proud I was to say that. If you had chosen me, then I must be pretty good. And I watched people watch you. I watched how you engaged people with that genuine warmth that you have always had. I was so incredibly proud of you.
Then on to Columbus, with a baby in your belly. My mind’s eye is filled with the image of you on our patio painting the rocking chair. My memory is of you lying on my lap as I drove right by the hospital and you, in the midst of a contraction, telling me I had missed the turn (the first of only – say – a thousand times you have had to do that). And my memory is of you on the delivery table awaiting the doctor, calm and collected. And you with that final push giving birth to our baby boy. Our Adam. Incredible it was. And you did it smiling!! And you did it efficiently – three hours start of labor to delivery.
And then on to Bexley and to our Julie. A beautiful early fall day, sunshine, us making the bed together – three weeks and four days before your due date. And you saying – if this baby is born the same number of days early as Adam was, I would deliver today. And, by noon, you were in the hospital. Now we were veterans. And, once again, you smiled all the way to the delivery room. I have the movies to prove it. So calm. So collected. So excited about our new baby. And, she was a girl!!! Just fantastic. One of each!!! And, of course, one less dog and a name change to follow.
And then on to us making a living, to raising our babies, to building our careers, to the maturing of our love and to the joys, and the inevitable struggles and challenges that came with that. You were always the rock. You were the one getting it all done. You nurtured our children, you supported and facilitated my career, you built your own Hall of Fame career as a teacher, you managed our finances, and you guided our social life. I could not have asked for a better life partner.
And now. In the blink of an eye, we are “seniors.” What the hell is that? You aren’t a senior and neither am I. You have a few symbols of experience (aka wrinkles), and I have the same symbols and one less body part. So what? We are still in pretty good shape. And, we understand now, better than we ever have, how precious every day is. How important and how deep our love is. How much joy we bring to each other, every day. We are now enjoying the blessings of our pretty well-led lives. And, you are still beautiful in every way. You are physically beautiful. That wonderful smile has some rivulets of repetition but it still lights up the room and causes me to melt. Your ability to love is still unbounded and extends now to all our family.
You – my dear – are the best person I will ever know. I am so lucky that on that September day in 1963, you came up to me and said, “Do you want to dance?” What a dance it has been, and we are still dancing. I love you.