I’m in awe of the two greatest women I’ve ever known.
It’s sometimes hard to believe that this will be the 28th Mother’s Day without my Mom. 28 years since she passed, 28 years without her sage advice (like ”Don’t follow your heart. Follow your mind and just let the heart make suggestions” and “If you only worry about making the good stuff happen, you don’t have time to worry about the other stuff”). There’s not a day goes by that I don’t miss you terribly. You never lived to see me marry, to find the career success you knew would come my way (even when I doubted myself), to see your grandsons.
Which let’s me seque to the other totally amazing woman in my life. For over 20 years, she’s been not only my rock, but the woman who provides our sons a shoulder to cry on or a swift kick in the ass. She’s mended scraped knees and broken hearts, packed lunches along with a wicked wit and despite being badly outnumbered in a testosterone fueled home, kept all of us in line.
So Happy Mother’s Day, Linda!
And Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
Some years ago I decided to walk up to Pacific Avenue in Wildwood, with the sole purpose of watching the parade of classic cars. Little did I know when I began walking down Wildwood Avenue that within minutes, my life would forever be changed.
It was the night I met you. Never a more fortuitous moment came across any man’s life.
You were standing there, in front of my friend Steve’s bicycle rental stand, where I always went to watch the parade. I had never seen a more beautiful vision in my life. You had just come from work, your hair somewhat mussed, and still…I was drawn to you, the way a moth is drawn to a bug zapper. You slew my playboy ways without even looking in my direction, much less saying anything to me. They say love at first sight doesn’t exist. You and I know better; that when you find the person God decided is the one for you, everything else fades away.
In all my life, I had never been so anxious and nervous to strike up a conversation with another person. Thankfully, that ’67 GTO rolled by and gave me my chance:
“Sweet car,” I said.
“Yes, it is” you answered.
And then you walked away. I thought I had blown it, although I didn’t know why. But I was certain that I had just missed on something spectacular. But God, in his wisdom, never lets the folly of men get in his way – and it was to my immense joy that I found you at my hotel pool later that evening. Little did I know then that the same things I felt in front of that bicycle stand were shared by you.
That summer bore fruit to a whirlwind romance between Raymond Rothfeldt and Linda Shelly. It was a fantastic time and ended one night at Neil’s Steak House. It ended with me on one knee, asking your hand in marriage. Of course, I never expected to shock you with the proposal – and I never expected to spend an eternity on one balky knee waiting for an answer. But I did; I would again.
13 years ago today we married. It proved to become the perfect metaphor for our lives together. From the JP disappearing less than an hour before the wedding (leading to our being married by Fred Wager, in his Hawaiian shirt) to the mis-sized wedding bands, our life hasn’t been one of ease or plans coming to fruition. But you’ve figured out a way laugh through the worst life can toss at us and made me laugh at myself in the process.
Over time, my love for you has only grown stronger. Where once I couldn’t imagine life without you by my side, now I cannot picture what my life was like before you came into it. Your beauty, your grace under pressure, the way you enliven a room: all this and more constantly amazes me. It is your strength that has guided this little family over the years, your wisdom that has saved us from catastrophe, your resilience that enabled us to bounce back every time things went astray. You’ve always known when I needed a laugh to get me past a difficult situation, a poke to get me moving in the right direction and a roadblock to keep me from going off on wild tangents.
And after all these years, there still isn’t another woman who can thrill me with just a smile, who has the ability with just a look to set my pulse racing and get my palms sweating. I may be well into middle age, but you can still make me feel like a teenager going on his first date; that odd combination of anticipation and nervousness.
For all of this and more, things I cannot write here or that are beyond my ability to write about, I love you. I love you for being you – and I love you for loving me. Your marrying me was the greatest gift I’ve ever received, one that I’ve treasured for the past 13 years and the one I’ll cherish above all others for the rest of my life.
Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart! I hope you don’t mind my sharing this with the rest of the world (although I don’t think you will) – but I think everyone, everywhere should know what a wonderful, wonderful woman you are. ♥