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Friday, July 15, 2005

I Once Knew a Woman

I once knew a woman, shining and bright.
I once knew a woman, my heart's delight.
I once knew a woman, bold and scared.
I once knew a woman, for whom I cared.

On March 21, 1993 I met the woman who would be my life for the next ?? years. That woman is my wife and she is a bright spot in a world of gray. On that day I knew there was a God. I knew he had touched my life. My heart was so full of joy it could have burst and left me not minding in the least. I met her on the phone. My eyes had never been blessed with her beauty. My ears were filled with music. I had never heard such music...music only God could make. And my heart was full...And my will was gone...And I knew. This was a turning point in my life, perhaps the only true turning point I had ever had. It was the day God said "I am here. See what I have made. Is it not very good?" I had never known God before that day, only of Him. A journey began then or perhaps I should say a ride...a rollercoaster ride of such heights and depths as to shake my world to the core. Throughout this "ride" was one constant link to the God of life, my wife. Times were crazy, times were intense, times were filled with sorrow and loss, times were overflowing with laughter and joy and always there was this bright spot. There was this woman I knew. She is still there...for now...but how long does now ever last? She shines and she grows and her light grows ever keener. Some day I think she will just shine right out of visibility. And the world will be gray again...and God will go home.

I once knew a woman, shining and bright.
I once knew a woman, my heart's delight.
I once knew a woman, is she still there?
I once knew a woman, if so.....I care.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Home Front

Well, it has been quite a summer so far at our place. The weather has turned hot and as a result we have been out on the lake....well let's see.....not at all, but we're going to have to cut back and that's really going to hurt. Between busy schedules and mindless diversions on my part, we have not been able to take advantage of the beautiful Minnesota outdoors, but this weekend that is going to come to a screeching halt! We will be on the lake Saturday with or without a boat! How long can you tread water?!

But on a more serious note, this summer has been a regular marathon for my very ambitious and capable family. My wife posts regularly to at least two blogs even when she has to be up til 3 am to do so (like last night!). In addition, she writes articles for publication in the literary field while preparing applications to present at literary conferences around the country. So far, she has been accepted for publication and for conference presenting at a rate of nearly 100%, a virtually unheard of track record! This woman just does not quit and will certainly be the winner of a Pulitzer Prize some day on her present course.

My sons and daughter-in-law have taken on the task of rebuilding motorcycles this summer and in so doing have taken over two-thirds of the garage! There are no less that four complete motorcycles of the 550 to 750 cc variety in various stages of decomposition artfully displayed about the room. Their intention is to assemble three working bikes within the next few weeks for their father to play with at his leisure (or maybe that was for each of them to use for gas-efficient transportation?) Anyway, they are busy on this new adventure, learning new skills, expanding their horizons and working shoulder to shoulder as few people I have known can. They are a pleasure to watch and an inspiration to follow. Hats off to you, guys! Just remember, mom draws the line at snow mobiles!

Then there is my personal treasure, my daughter, who faithfully serves her country in the Army National Guard. This woman pours her life out each day in the heart of a foreign country thousands of miles from home because that's what she said she would do. It is often a confusing and heart wrenching business with life-threatening dangers and back-breaking work schedules. She is an intelligent woman who needs a world that makes sense...this one doesn't, but she does not quit. They intend to keep her in that place, where part-time state militia troops were never intended to go, for at least another 6 months. She will faithfully serve that time, putting her life on the line, because that's who she is. It doesn't get any better than this.

These are excellent people. They do excellent work. I am proud to claim them as family. If you ever need to have your faith in the decency and integrity of humanity restored, stop in for a visit. They are always gracious to strangers, but beware getting them started about their various passions....you may never get out!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Daughters in Transit

My wife recently handed me a copy of an article that Stacy Schiff wrote about young women finding a place in this world. She used Jo March of "Little Women" as an example both of how to be a success in life as well as of how to get lost on your way to it. In short, it takes hard work and shrewd planning for professional women to find success and fulfillment in today's hectic world. The working world isn't the same challenge for them as it is for their male counterparts. It's harder and takes careful personal management to best. I have a daughter who is just finding her way in to this world of professionalism. She has not yet "arrived" and has had her share of struggles along the way. I would like to offer some advice both to her and to all in her situation.

My dear daughter, I know you to be a highly intelligent and highly motivated young women with designs on having both a successful career and a successful family life some day. Both are within the grasp of your abilities and talents, but neither will come easily without conscious effort on your part to be smart about your personal choices. Okay, so what does that mean, right?! Well, I have one area of concern in which I would caution you to be watchful: your close personal relationships, particularly those with members of the opposite sex and most particularly that one which will eventually lead to your choice of a life partner. In her article Stacy Schiff quotes statistics among female executives that strongly suggest a woman's partner has much to do with her success. Choose wisely, grasshopper. Wisely, in this case, is someone who is your intellectual equal, someone who can and does think on the same level as you do. If you look for a partner among those whose thought patterns and world view are not as developed as your's, you will eventually find someone who will expect you to fit into a mold much smaller than that for which you were made and for which you aspire. Think of it as a foot race in which you can either choose to have a head wind or a tail wind. The head wind could easily cost you the race, but a tail wind will add to your already ample ability and propel you to the win. I want the world for you, my daughter and that world is there. Secure your thinking in the wisdom that will get it for you.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Perfect Wife

Sorry, guys, but I'm afraid I got the only truly perfect wife. I have been reading numerous blogs about husbands relating to their spouses in various situations. Most of them I can relate to with at least a reasonable level of empathy. I was particularly moved by an account of a couple celebrating their 80th wedding anniversary (http://thehappyhusband.com/?p=515). In another a man displayed a level of committment to his wife that I have rarely seen, caring for her every physical need with tenderness and love as her abilities to function slowly passed. The way he cared for her in the physical realm is the way my wife cares for me in what I will call the spiritual realm. Her spirit loves with a degree of integrity that speaks of a higher level of being. She cares for people with True caring. I know many people who meet the needs of others with a concern for what they or I see in front of them, but who don't consider what may lie beyond that immediate need. My wife looks beyond the visible through depths of ambiguity to complexities that few can fathom. She perceives True needs and concerns that may actually be thwarted by caring for the visible, physical problem. What's more, she will not be deterred from embracing that person's True needs even if to do so will bring her derision from those less perceiving souls looking on. In her innocence, this derision causes her confusion and pain for her integrity assignes those onlookers a higher degree of decency than they are capable of or willing to exercise. Unfortunately, I am all too often one of those onlookers myself. For this I am ashamed. She teaches me by example every day with the patience of a saint, but then why should that surprise anyone when she has the practices of a saint. I fear I am too old now to reach an 80th anniversary with her, but no matter, I don't plan to lose her just because of a little thing like death.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Full House

Just a quick note about my family. They are all home this week! It has been a while since all were here. My daughter is home from Iraq for just a few days. My wife and son are home from school for the summer, so my older son and daughter-in-law are hosting the rest for a short while. It was just a marvel to watch them all interact with music and talk last night. These are some truly remarkable people... all of them. They are intelligent, intuitive, vibrant, caring and very talented in many ways. My wife threads her way through the various levels and mediums of communcation with practiced ease, touching each in just the way they need to be touched. While it lasts, there is nothing like it. All too soon the nest will begin to empty again. Treasure your families while you can. Today will never come again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Out of the Shadows

Well, once again it has been some time since my last posting. Even so, I have not lost my commitment to my wife or to my life with her. Much to my shame, however, I am having to come to terms with a long list of inconsistencies and indiscretions on my part with respect to that relationship. My wife has had to endure what has been virtually a one-sided string of compromises from me while faithfully holding her lines and loving me in return. It is my goal and intention to diligently seek what she refers to as "the self-examined life", a term I believe coined by her which simply put means "clean up your own garbage."

That is actually quite an oversimplification. The self-examined life is one where the individual self-monitors their thoughts, attitudes and actions, straining them through a filter of tight personal ethics to catch any inconsistencies. Even with a set of ethics that are not nearly as tight as my wife's, I am finding inconsistencies/violations at every turn. My life has gone from one in which I faithfully cared for and loved my wife to one where I attend only to my own needs and wants. Perhaps even worse, it has gone from a life where I was a self-respecting adult man, responsible for my actions to one in which I avoid personal responsibility while expecting my wife to take up any slack that is left. In short, I have become a pig...consuming all I can while expecting someone else to both feed my appetites and be responsible in my place. That someone else has been my wife.

But it gets even worse. It would have been bad enough just to have turned into a pig. I have taken it further and decided that if my wife did not indulge me in my "feeding" and if she did not shoulder the responsibilities that I did not care for, SHE was in violation and deserving of punishment. She has suffered abuse from me in retaliation for countering my indiscretions and for simply standing for what was right and calling me to hold to my own ethics. Increasingly she has had to compromise the intensity of her own personal work because of my pulling her attention away to deal with my abuses. This has also caused deep doubts in her regarding her ability to continue academic persuits in which she has engaged with considerable personal investment. I am deeply ashamed of what I have become and even more of what I have been doing to her. She has deserved none of the abuse and has been faithful throughout both to me and to the God we both claim to serve.

As a result of the situation in which I now find myself, it is my intention to begin a new blog which records both my confessions of wrong-doing and my efforts to correct those violations. My next posting will contain the link to that new blog. Until then, I extend my deepest apologies to my loving wife and to those others who have suffered because of me in recent days.

Monday, April 04, 2005

My Wife/ My Friend

I have not posted for quite a while....somewhat because I didn't know what to use this site for....somewhat because I didn't know if I would use this site at all....and somewhat because I decided I was too busy to bother. Well, things like "busy" and "important" have caused me to lose touch with a lot of things that truly matter....like my wife, Mary.

Mary has been many things to me over the years...friend, family, teacher, drill sergeant, lover, helper....the list goes on. She has opened my eyes to worlds I never knew existed, worlds I needed to see in order to live and others I needed to see in order to love. Mary taught me to love, mostly by example, but also because she has made herself a student of love and of life. To say she is wise is truly an understatement. I recently told a prospective employer that if he ever needed someone to just come in and fix all of his problems my wife would be happy to do it. The thing is, I'm sure he thought I was exaggerating about her, but I wasn't. She is without question the most capable person I have ever met in whatever setting you would care to put her. But what makes that something of true value is her heart. She would do the job to care for someone else's needs...to help them get free from whatever bound them...to love them in whatever way she found available. That is who Mary is...a lover, first, last and always. She loves me so faithfully it truly hurts sometimes. She loves her children through many things that tear her heart. She loves til it hurts....and she's only getting started. And if that's not enough, the woman is so full of integrity, it practically oozes out of her pores. That's my Mary.

Now, I know what you are thinking, "Boy has he got a thick pair of rose-colored glasses!" or if you are kinder, "Isn't it nice how he loves his wife". Perhaps both of those things are true in some measure. But I would challenge you to keep your eyes open for her today. If you stop to talk to a strikingly attractive middle aged woman who within 5 minutes causes you to feel as if you are in the presence of something "more", throw her your most posing problem. If she responds with "the" answer while hardly breaking stride, you may just have talked to my Mary today. I hope you consider it the privilege that I do....when I'm not too busy.