One New Year’s Day I woke up and announced to Jerry, “My resolution this year is to be an ‘all-full’ kind of person like you!”
“An awful kind of person?” he asked. His humor is deliberate mis-hearing. I tell him I got “the pick of the litter,” and he says contritely, “I’m sorry, someone has to pick up the litter.”
One advantage to marrying someone who’s 56–you don’t have any illusions about changing or “fixing” your spouse as you would in your twenties or thirties. That quirk, that irritating habit, if any, has probably been there a lo-o-ng time. So I determined I’d accept Jerry just as he was.
Fortunately most of his quirks are nice ones and most of his habits are useful ones. I kept finding out new things about him–we only dated three months, after all–and they are all good. I am constantly saying, “I didn’t know you could fix plumbing!” and “I didn’t know you could install ceiling fans!”
Of course he had been married for 29 years (you don’t get experience like that when you marry a kid) and as he put it, he was “already housebroken.” His first wife had MS and as her disease progressed, he had taken on more of the shopping, cooking, laundry and housework plus medical stuff until he was doing it all, along with his full-time insurance business.
So he knows his way around a kitchen and a laundry room.
Also, he read and took to heart Chuck Swindoll’s book, Improving Your Serve.
He accepts me just as I am. I tell him, “Thank you for letting God choose me.” and “Thank you for loving me and marrying me and putting up with me.” And he says, “Thank you for letting me love you and marry you” and stops there.
Jerry is such an easy-going person (at least with me; other drivers are another story) that he lets me get away with murder. I am dismayed to find when I am not pulling against a leash, I am scandalously self-indulgent.
He is more than a handsome widower who likes to cook. When I look at him I see a silver-haired grandfather. (I added his three grandchildren to my one when we married and one of his, conveniently, was already named Jessica.). My maternal grandfather drowned when my mother was 15. My paternal grandfather, according to legend, died in a fall from a tightrope in the circus when my father was eight. So Jerry is the indulgent grandfather I never knew.
When I look at him I see a father so kind he told his daughter the first cookies she baked weren’t burnt, they were charcoal chip, his favorite, and he ate every one of them. Sent by his wife to spank his daughter, he whipped the bed instead of her bottom and told her to cry loud enough for her mother to hear. A father so close to his daughter he was her attendant-of-choice at the birth of his first grandchild. Jerry speaks with the soft voice and offers the safe touch I didn’t always get from my father.
When I look at Jerry I see a husband so adaptable he moved into my house, parked his car on Rick’s side of the garage, moved into Rick’s side of the bed, and let me postpone further changes until I was ready for them.
He still opens doors for me, still buys me roses whenever we go shopping and we still say our wedding vows to each other every night. When I ask his forgiveness for something, he has already forgiven and let it go. These past ten years, Jerry has been like Jesus to me, the embodiment of I Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, endures all things. Love never fails. . .”
As long as you don’t cut him off in traffic.