Yesterday, I was digging through boxes in the garage. The boxes were covered in dust. I found things I didn’t even know I owned. A fondue pot, for instance. Brand new. Just what every man of the modern age needs.
I found our wedding photos, too. I had to sit down to look at those.
In one photo, I’m cutting a cake while the woman on my arm is laughing, holding her belly. Young Me is watching her.
I remember exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking the same thing I’m thinking now:
“I like making this woman laugh.”
Easier said than done. She doesn’t know how to fake laugh. It’s not in her. In fact, she doesn’t laugh unless something is worth dying over.
And if you’re lucky enough to see her get tickled—big “if”—the first thing she’ll do is hold her stomach. And IF you can get this woman to clutch her stomach, your life has been worth it.
I also found a certificate in one of the boxes. The thing was covered in plastic, with my name written on it. My college degree.
I was a grown man when I went to college. It took me eleven years to finish. The only reason I completed was because this woman believed I could.
Sometimes I can’t tell if I’m her sidekick or if she is mine.
Either way, she is a woman who does too much. She works too hard, she loves harder. She has quirks, too. And nobody knows them like me.
For example: she cannot fall asleep without an assortment of machinery.
In her arsenal is a foam wedge (for her lower back); a heating pad (for her cold nature); a mouthguard (she grinds her teeth at night); a sound machine (apparently I snore); earplugs (apparently I am not an amatuer snorer); an eye mask (to shield her face from my professional snoring); and a woven synthetic blanket (for suffocating husbands who sleep with their mouths open).
More about her: she writes thank-you notes religiously. She likes her coffee fixed pretty—sugar and two quarts of cream. She is a scorpio—this means she suffers from clinical road rage.
We do not have children. Her maternal love must go somewhere. So, she is a proud aunt. She holds her niece like she’s holding a stack of cash. She loves animals. She speaks Dog. She also speaks Feral Cat. We spend a lot of money on bags of dry food for strays.
She will risk her life to save a turtle.
She is a certified math teacher, but she doesn’t teach anymore. This woman pulled me through high-school equivalency classes and turned a red headed dropout into an educated dummy.
Then, she helped me through college. And on the day I once told her, “I don’t know if I have what it takes to finish school,” she gave me a four-hour pep-talk.
She is a chef. Sixteen ounces of her homemade pimento cheese is worth driving sixteen hundred miles. Her chicken salad should be on the Pope’s bucket list.
And Lord God Almighty, her biscuits.
Her granny died before imparting the sacred biscuit recipe, but somehow my wife figured it out.
Last night, I showed my wife old photographs, and a certificate with my name on it. I told her what I just told you. I thanked her for all she’s done for me. For making an orphan feel like somebody, for once in his life.
“You give me too much credit,” she said.
She’ll never know just how much credit she deserves until we reach the Other Side.
Until that day, I want to be the one who makes her hold her stomach.