Sunday, December 19, 2010

1.8 Decades Later

I am finding this a hard post to write.  This blog is about things that are important to me, big and small, significant and trivial, personal and public.  I've written about my friends and my family, especially my two daughters, but I haven't written very much about my wife, Audrey, and that strikes me as an oversight that demands correction.

Not a day goes by that I don't realize exactly how lucky I am to have Audrey in my life, and to have shared my life with her for two decades now.  I've never been much of a salesman, but the best pitch I ever made in my life was back in university, when our relationship first took a turn towards the intimate and she was worried about damaging the friendship we had already forged.

"A lot of people like to use the term 'just friends' to describe a relationship with someone, especially a 'nice guy' that girls don't necessarily see 'that' way."  I told her.   "We've heard it so many times, my nice guy friends and I have abbreviated it 'JF' and call the little dance around it 'The Juliet Foxtrot'.  And there are two things that bug me about it: first, that it makes friendship out to be a consolation prize for a romantic relationship, and secondly, that it's dishonest."

"What do you mean?"  Audrey asked.

"I mean, it normally has very little to do with friendship, and everything to do with a lack of attraction, at least at that point in time.  You and I have been friends for a while, and that isn't going to change.  How can anyone expect to be in a relationship with someone without being friends first?  Isn't that why people break up, because they have passion but can't relate to each other without it?"

"Mmmaybe..." she agreed hesitantly.

"We already have the best foundation for a relationship because we are friends," I continued.  "We wouldn't do anything to intentionally hurt each other, so why wouldn't we explore things a little further, at our own pace?"

That was in November of 1990; two years later we were married.  In fact, it was 18 years ago today.  Fenya and Glory take up so much of our lives' bandwidth now that it is hard to imagine life without them, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

Now, if you know my wife, you already know that she is awesome, but you may not know precisely why.  There are a lot of reasons, and I discover new ones from time to time, but an anniversary seems like a grand opportunity to document them for posterity.

London tube steak - September 2005

Helpful - I don't think of myself as a lazy person, per se, but I do when I compare myself to my wife.  She is truly the ant to my grasshopper, and in addition to managing most of our household on a daily basis, she is always one of the first to volunteer when there is something that needs doing at work, church, school or elsewhere.

Creative - Audrey thinks I am more creative than her just because my imagination is maybe more vivid (or perhaps just unrestrained), but she puts together things like a 'Spooky Spa' for Fenya's birthday that I wouldn't think of in a million years.  She is also a gifted gifter, picking thoughtful and insightful presents for family and acquaintances that make the recipients feel truly appreciated.

Humorous - Let's face it; with me as a husband, a sense of humor is not so much an option as it is a coping mechanism, but Audrey's appreciation for the absurd, funny turns of phrase, and the occasional bit of slapstick makes our house a happy one.  The girls seem to come by it naturally enough as well, for which I am very grateful.

Historical - Audrey shares my appreciation for what has gone before, from historical events to the ways in which people lived in other times.  When the movie 'Alexander' came out to almost universally bad reviews, her response was "Critics, schmitics; I just want to go for the elephants."

My 40th birthday - May 2007
Practical - I try to run my plans past Audrey before I commit to them,n because she can usually be counted on to point out some combination of tasks or an order of execution which is sure to save me some time.  She even brings this attitude when we are watching movies: when a character strikes out from a crashed plane or some such, she will be the one shaking her head and saying "They're going to regret not filling those little liquor bottles with water."

Tough - This extends to both the physical and emotional definitions of this word.  Following an accident on the family farm, she and her sister Vera had to look for two of the severed fingers of a hired man, and after finding them, Vera drove while Audrey held them on her lap, wrapped in a bag of frozen peas.  This is not a woman who shies away from stuff just because it has an ick factor.

Banff - August 2010
Compassionate - Audrey works as a Special Needs Teaching Assistant at a K-9 school with a lot of issues. An economically depressed area, under-educated parents, new Canadians from Asia and Africa with challenges both cultural and meteorological ("What do you mean you don't own any boots?"), and kids who have to deal with single parent homes, gangs, crime, drug use or violence in their homes, or just the knowledge that if their parents were not legally obliged to care for them, they probably wouldn't. It is a cold, hard, natural fact that if it was not for the love that Audrey brings the children she encounters on a daily basis, many of these kids would go without. And not just love, but responsibility, expectation, firmness and accountability. I hope she is able to stay at this school for a while, and not just for her own sake.

In a life full of many blessings, Audrey is the greatest one of all.  I am honoured to be her husband, and proud to have her as my wife for these 18 years.  Happy anniversary, baby.


  1. Dude, I've got something in my eye.

    Nice post.

  2. damn onions...

    Happy Anniversary Stephen & Audrey.

  3. Great post, and congratulations on 18 years. I remember Pete and I trying to find Camrose, in a snowstorm, in the dark. It was a bit of an adventure. Doesn't seem to have been anywhere near that long ago.
    I must go, the air seems to be full of dust here.

  4. Great tribute to a great lady. Happy anniversary, you guys! (18 years? Yoiks...)