Honor and Respect

A co-worker asked me last night how long I had been married.

’30 some years.’

‘Quite an accomplishment’ he stated, ‘How’d ya manage?’.

I really don’t have an answer, but I like to think it has something to do with the truth that I married my best friend, and that friendship has endured. Friendships are built on trust, mutual respect, understanding and compassion.

Given that it’s International Women’s day, I think it’s appropriate I be reflective of the women in my life. When I think about it, it’s been the women in my life who have shaped who I am today. Sure, my dad was a huge influence, but in my house, growing up, the dominate influence and lawgiver was my mother. My father and mother had a working relationship, an equal foundation to raise their children, but my father was gone a lot. I didn’t always get along with my mother, and I find that my role today as a primary caretaker for her, is one that I cherish. In a lot of ways, I’m closer to her now then when I was growing up, raising my own family.  I have an older sister who I love, but don’t talk with much, and I suppose that’s on me. Barb has a good heart, has always been socially aware, and a lot of my social beliefs, to strive for social justice, derive from her, and I’ll always be thankful for that. Her daughter, Shelby, an army vet, now grown with a family of her own, is a lot like her mom, and that inspires me. I’m simply impressed with how Shelb manages such a full and rewarding life. I remember my grandmother, a farmers wife, who put up with a ton of emotional abuse from my grandfather in the early years. Things I didn’t know about till I was much older, and things I didn’t want to believe. Then there’s my Aunt Lil, who always had a brewing pot of coffee, and a kitchen table ready for me when I wanted to talk. Lil was my go to person, and when I think of compassion and understanding, my Aunt comes to mind. Her passing was my first real sense of grief and sorrow.

And then there’s my wife, Theresa. I’m a good ten years older than Teri and I met her when she was babysitting for my sister. She was only 17, and I was 26. Her mother, Jeanette, had me over for a roast beef dinner, and asked me bluntly what my intentions were, with her daughter. Teri didn’t fall far from that tree. Deeply religious, steadfast in her convictions, Jeannette was shocked when she found out Rock Hudson was gay, but she simply refused to be judgmental. She loved Rock Hudson. I remember that conversation over dinner, I’ll always remember her love and faith in me, to treat her daughter with respect.

My wife isn’t perfect, I’m not either, we both realize that, admit it, talk about our mistakes, then move on. Together. If you were to ask me what love is, I couldn’t put it in words, but I would hope her mother is smiling down upon us, knowing that I’ve honored her simple request to treat Teri with honor and respect.

I owe all the women in my life that.