An Ode to J.R.

June 7, 2012 at 5:29 pm 3 comments

Rest assured; this is not a declaration of diehard devotion to a certain Texas-based, primetime soap opera, although my J.R. did spend a decade in the Dallas area and all three of my stepchildren still call that region home. 

No, the focus of my devotion is the husband with whom I recently celebrated a 25th wedding anniversary – an occasion that inspires poeticizing like none other.  (Also a stark reminder of how quickly time scoots by, and how precious is each month, week, day, and hour, to be wrung limp with an appreciative squeeze.) 

As for the object of my reflections:  I am an impatient sort.  Because of my personal history, I have expectations that aren’t always realistic or fair.  And I often project my own urgency onto those around me – whether they be ditzy drivers or my own dear, less manic spouse.  My 25th smacked me right in the kisser with a minute-by-minute awareness of just how much I have to stop and give thanks for, and to cherish.  I will, of course, elucidate. 

First of all, I am blessed with a life-mate who pays attention to the right small things.  He may ignore, guy-like, the fact that I haven’t dusted in weeks, but listen intently as I ramble on about the specific kind of tank-top I’ve been searching for, and then show up a few days later, having hunted down the perfect match for my description.  Six perfect matches, in fact.   

He might wait patiently, reading in the car, as I make multiple frantic stops trying to accommodate the demands of an allergy-elimination diet, then later spend his entire lunch hour driving to the one health food store that carries Rice Dream dairy-free frozen dessert, to replenish my supply.  He can seem not to be fully tuned in while I describe in tiresome detail what I am looking for in a watch, and then surprise me with the ideal model at the next appropriate special occasion, i.e., Happy Friday! 

The man, and this will never cease to impress me, will patiently troll the clothing racks looking for items he thinks I might like while I’m locked in a dressing room, slogging through the tedious process of Trying On Clothes.  Many of my favorite wardrobe additions resulted from his keen-eyed efforts.  All this without any of the melodramatic self-importance that motivates reality show fashion experts. 

Also, while I am an animal lover, my husband is an animal liker.  Having said this, my guy welcomed both of the feisty felines I brought into our marriage, supported me through related bereavements, and once back-tracked several blocks in the family vehicle because I saw a confused-looking kitty wandering around a commercial area and wanted to try to rescue it. 

At that point, I was not surprised at his capacity for indulgence.  After all, hadn’t he once piled into the same vehicle with me to rush to Wal-Mart and buy a cage and seed for the injured bird that had bounced off our front window and landed in the flower bed, only to discover on our return home that the stunned critter had recovered and flown away?  U-turn back to Wal-Mart to return the emergency items.  Again, no drama, no recriminations, just a patient tending to the needs of the situation.  My needs.

 And when I felt compelled to take in a pup who was facing her third home placement at the age of two because her ultra-distracted owners were moving, he resisted initially – for practical reasons.  Three years later, he is almost as delighted as she when he gets home from work and she threatens to turn herself inside-out in a joyful welcoming ritual of leaps and back flips.  Scene two, she is flopped  in his lap, eyes rolled back in her head, sopping up tummy-rubs like a thirsty sponge, and he is chuckling and murmuring softly as his blood pressure rolls back about 20 points.  The tranquilizer manufacturers will be out of business if a photo of this ever goes viral. 

My sweetie and I are very much aligned in all the important areas.  On some smaller issues, there is an occasional Venus/Mars split.  And then there is the day-to-day stuff.  I am pretty fanatical about conserving things, while my honey takes a more common sense approach.  Still, when he is finished with a shaker of body powder, a bottle of liquid soap, a tube of toothpaste, or a jar of mustard, he will open another, but leave the carcass behind for me to shake, scrape, dig, squeeze, or swoosh the very last drop or tittle from, knowing that it satisfies something within me to use the last drib and drab of anything. 

Then there was that phase I went through where I was reassessing how much toilet tissue I was reeling off the roll, and would sometimes lay the extra, unused squares back on the dispenser for later use.  Lesser men might have used this as material for ridicule.  My J.R. used it as material for bathroom art, creating a soft-sculpture Cottonelle gallery. 

It started out simply, with a four-inch paper doll, but soon I was finding a three-dimensional, if monochrome, humanoid; an elaborate sail boat; and even a palm tree – complete with fringed foliage.  You have to laugh at a situation in which more paper gets wasted with each escalating “retort” than was ever saved by means of my obsessive little fetish. 

Ah yes; the everyday stuff.  My guy always walks on the traffic side of me when we take a stroll, insistently offers his jacket even when I’ve rejected his pre-walk suggestion that I might want to wear one myself, and will get up from a restaurant table to drive blocks down the road, seeking out a menu I find more appealing. 

After two-and-a-half decades, you’d think we’d know all there is to know about one another, but just a few weeks ago I learned that the reason he always insists on going with me to run errands is, “Because I would never forgive myself if I was here and available to take you but didn’t, and something happened to you when you were out.”  Talk about a silver anniversary present to remember. 

Forever interesting, my multi-faceted husband continues to present sides of his quiet self that I’ve not yet become acquainted with, like the side that will spend huge chunks of energy helping out a neighbor with household challenges or polishing his Spanish to better communicate with our new friends down the block. And who knew he would become a fan of Bollywood cinema at this stage in life, and through that budding interest discover some true gems of touching, values-based entertainment that we can enjoy watching together – our own unique in-house date nights, no makeup required.  

What is no surprise is that he allows himself to be used by God in so many ways, as when the Lord led me-of-lapsed-faith to this decent, forgiving believer, and changed my life forever – and forever. 

I sometimes call this life-mate of mine Hank, because the night we re-met at a high school reunion, I spilled sparkling water on my lap, and he whipped out a real cloth handkerchief for me to use in the cleanup; he calls me Hanes because he rather liked the look of my gams.  And no matter how time ravages our once-youthful bodies, that chivalry will always be a part of Hank.  It is his core.   

And generosity is his heart.  Cars, computers, an unexpected check; re-gifting all of his birthday cash to help out a struggling co-worker.  This man of modest means has, without a second thought, carried on his parents’ legacy of giving to others whose need is greater, and we are both the richer for his servant’s spirit. 

I have a friend who has said of her husband, “He lets me be me.”  I am similarly blessed, although the balance dips to his side in our male/female dance of life:  He is much more likely to let my quirks go uncommented upon than I am to allow his.  I really must work on that. 

Alas, 25 years later I am still learning to be the wife God meant for me to be.  Meanwhile, I recently came across the following crossword puzzle clue:  Name which translates to “gift.”  Answer:  Isador. 

J.R.  He is not perfect, of course; that would be intolerable for both of us.  But he is my Isador, and that is definitely something to celebrate.

Entry filed under: Advice For Life. Tags: , , , , , , .

A Legacy of Endurance Sweet Promises and Sauerkraut

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rae  |  June 8, 2012 at 3:15 am

    Happy anniversary! What a wonderful way to let him know how appreciated and loved he is.

  • 2. Craig  |  June 12, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    What a tribute. This writing is better than any physical gift could ever be.

  • 3. Mary Eggert  |  June 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Finally got to read this entry – what a lovely tribute to your JR! Congratulations on 25 years – that’s a milestone!!


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