It has come to my attention that I am now married to a sexagenarian. It’s true: my wife, Julie, has caught up to me and has officially hit the big 6 – 0.
What does this mean other than “being carded” now involves being asked if you qualify for the senior discount? For one thing, it means that Julie has spent well over half of her life putting up with me.
It has not been an easy road. It began on our wedding night when we came home to discover that our Holsteins had broken out and I commanded Julie to help me chase cows in her wedding dress. Always the sensible one, Julie refused. This incident was the first hint that Julie would be the main source of common sense for our family.
Like many newlyweds, we were financially strapped. We put in a garden the spring that we were wed, and Julie canned everything that grew from that little plot of dirt. We must have had some sort of super-mutant cucumbers that didn’t know when to quit producing; Julie canned cases and cases of bread and butter pickles. We probably still have a few jars of them somewhere in a dusty corner of the basement.
Julie is a master of getting lemons and making lemonade. And I just don’t just mean the unending chore of trying to make me into a better person.
For instance, shortly after we were married, we had a cow that had to be put down. We had the cow processed, but didn’t have a freezer and couldn’t afford to buy one. Julie set to the monumental task of pressure cooking and canning most of that cow. That is still some of the best beef stew I have ever tasted.
Julie’s parents divorced when she was in junior high school. Maybe this is why Julie’s strongest instinct has always been for family.
You couldn’t have found a happier woman anywhere on the planet each time that Julie learned she was pregnant. She traversed the valley of the shadow of death that is called childbirth without complaint. She knew that giving life to our two sons would be her highest achievement in this world.
No one could have asked for a better mother for our two boys. Julie has a maternal instinct that reaches far beyond my feeble understanding. She has always put her family first. If Julie were to win the lottery, her initial thought wouldn’t be, “Woo-hoo! Time to go shopping!” It would be, “How can I use this to make our families’ lives better?” Far down her list would be my idea of buying a flux capacitor so that I could turn my pickup into a time machine.
Julie has endured her share of hard times. Even though many of them were caused by me, she has stayed by my side, unwavering, a rock standing firm amidst life’s most turbulent storms.
It’s no secret that we, like many farmers, suffered greatly during the mid-80s farm crisis. Never once did Julie blame me for getting us into that mess. Never once did she say that we should simply throw in the towel and walk away. If it was something that I believed in, then she believed in it, too.
I cannot let this occasion pass without thanking Julie yet again for literally saving my life.
During the hours and weeks following my manure pit accident, Julie was a tireless advocate for me. More than once, after medical experts had given up on me, she insisted that they take the next step. And during that long, nightmarish ordeal, she never left my side, often ruffling nurses’ feathers and breaking the ICU visitation rules. I would not be walking the earth without her untiring love and devotion.
It has been my pleasure and my privilege to be at Julie’s side as she transformed over the years from a blushing bride to a young mother to the mature, self-assured woman she is today. A woman whose dedication to family knows no bounds; a woman whom everyone loves as soon as they meet her.
I don’t know how the cosmic tumblers aligned to make Julie my wife. She is more than I could have ever asked for and much, much more than I deserve.
Happy birthday Julie! I hope you live forever and a day and that I get to be with you every step of the way.