January 2023 marks 40 years of life with Rock. We met as high school students when he moved into the neighborhood. The first time I saw him I thought “Wow! He’s gorgeous!” and immediately sighed inside thinking I had no chance with him. But, for some reason, he liked what he saw in me. I was a train wreck, though I didn’t know it. I battled depression and anxiety and terribly low self-esteem. He was raised to believe he could have whatever he wanted if he was willing to fight hard enough for it. I still praise the Lord he decided I was worth fighting for.
His battle was against me not believing I could be loved enough, not believing I could be wanted. I need to be very clear on this point. Nothing Mother or Daddy did caused my problems. There were other elements in my life that contributed to my problems. Rock only cared about loving me.
And for 40 years he has done just that. He has fought to keep our life on track and our children safe. He fought to drag me out of the depths of grief and sadness while dealing with his own grief over the years. He raised our children to believe they too could have whatever they wanted if they were willing to fight for it.
We live an adventure even now. Between the children, the granddaughters, the longhorns, church, hunting, fishing, living in the Big Thicket, river life and lake life, we always have something going on. We are still crazy about each other and he has helped me become someone I couldn’t have been without him.
I liken him to an ancient warrior. His ancestry points to Scotland and I am reminded that even the Empire of Rome could not overtake his grandfathers. I see that strength in him. He is tough and strong and yes, he can be difficult. I love the difficult just as much as I do the tender and gentle parts of him. I tried to explain to someone one time that truly loving someone is to love the dark as much as the light parts of them. To not only accept and tolerate, but to embrace the hard to handle parts, too.
Contrary to popular belief, he has a tender heart that loves larger than life. He adores his children and granddaughters. He stays on alert for any sign of distress among our tiny family circle. Anyone who causes even a little stress among us is forever excluded from his trust. He keeps a small, tight circle around us.
I praise Jesus for our life together. Rock’s faith in Christ, his tenacity in life, his passion and strength keep me grounded and safe. I never want to take for granted the love we share. I am ever grateful for his choosing to love me. I pray he knows how much I love him. We will celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary in June, but I am celebrating our 40th year of being in love. I love you, Rock.
A few years ago, I painted the ice box and upright deep freezer fronts with chalkboard paint. I had written some words and phrases on the ice box with chalk markers and later when I washed them off, they left traces of the lines. My older duchess was here recently and wanted to draw with the chalk. I gave her the little container of chalk and went on with the dish washing. I looked around a few minutes later and she had drawn a cloud and a rainbow. Then she had traced over the letters she could still see faintly showing. “Love with reckless abandon” and the heart outline I had washed off for them to be able to use it for their play had been retraced.
She wanted to know what it said. (She’s four.) I told her and then she wanted to know what it meant.
I tried to explain.
Later, I thought about loving with reckless abandon. To me, it is how it felt when I was her age and even until I was about ten. When I loved, it was without reservation. It was without condition or hesitation or fear of rejection or concern about reciprocation. Love just was and everyone felt it as intensely as I did. Or so I thought. I am speaking of more than romantic love. I am also speaking of love between two individuals as friends or family members. I was in my twenties before I truly realized that the experience of love I have is not universal. I was so terribly naïve. I thought love could work itself through anything. It cannot work one way, though.
As we age, cynicism tends to set in. Or simply protective layers develop without our realizing. Many people never learn how to love. Some only love themselves. Many people never feel the exuberance of real, deep, true love. As I age, I think “many” should probably read “most”. Perhaps early on they had it, but life was too painful to continue to try to sustain the seeking of reciprocation. The heart and mind push away the painful memory and they forget it exists.
Maybe that is why grandchildren are so important to our hearts. When we are young and our children are young, there is a feeling of safety with the love between us. The knowing that at the end of the day, the snuggles and hugs are without reservation. The love in our hearts has a reckless abandon that only confidence of unconditional reciprocation brings. That same feeling returned with the duchesses’ arrival into the world.
Love, passion, anger. Strong emotions we are taught to control and suppress. They are reckless. They are dangerous. They bring with them pain. Pain is proof of being alive. I continue to strive for the fullness of exuberance and love. May I have the courage to face the pain of it all and love with reckless abandon. As I age, I want the scales of protection to fall away. I want the tender places to be open again. With maturity, I hope to manage the pain with grace and mercy and not with closing off.
I want to love Him and him with reckless abandon and exuberance and passion. I want to grow into the person the Lord wants me to be. I want to grow into the woman my husband needs me to be. I want to grow into the mother and grandmother my children need as the years continue. We still have a lot of living to do and I want it to be as wonderful as the first 37 years. Even better. Happy Anniversary, Rock. I love you! Recklessly.