Happy is the husband of a good wife; the number of his days will be doubled. A loyal wife brings joy to her husband, and he will complete his years in peace. A good wife is a great blessing; she will be granted among the blessings of the man who fears the Lord. Whether rich or poor, his heart is content, and at all times his face is cheerful…
Illinois … Land of Lincoln … flat as a pancake. We lived there for 13 years (1976-89) and had incredible highs and incredible lows. Our marriage was tested and we came through tempered and stronger.
We tried to keep the tension away from you kids, but a runaway economy, financial stress, workplace temptations, the everyday strain of three, then four, then five kids and a staleness in our relationship midway through our second decade together could have taken a toll. We came thisclose to losing our house and had two disastrous extra-family experiences with Patrick and Denise that just ripped Mom’s heart out. The problem wasn’t she didn’t care, but rather she cared too much. It’s easy to get hurt when you give up your heart.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the “D” word was never discussed or considered. But there were days — way too many days — when your Mom and I just went through the motions without the passion we had once known. We were often off doing our own thing, ignoring each other and each other’s needs. Instead, we focused on work or tending to house and kids. Mom was getting depressed and paranoid. I didn’t help by telling her to snap out of it then slink off into my own world.
I don’t know what turned it around except we both came to the realization life without vesting in each other was useless. Maybe Clarence was leading us through. We went back to the basics — the foundation of faith — and rekindled the spark. Mom listened more … I talked more. We found humor in everyday antics. We found solace in watching God at work in our lives.
Mom loved the snow (not driving in it) and we were in seventh heaven the first winter in Illinois. It snowed from just before Thanksgiving and that same snow was still on the ground in April. Route 20 was a tunnel just before you got to Rockford. Joe got lost walking to school … he held the map upside down. We coaxed, pleaded and threatened Deanna when she refused to go to school on her first day in September 1977, her little fingers so tightly locked onto the kitchen chair. Scott got more mileage out of a pair of cowboy boots than anyone I had ever known.
It’s also true my carpentry skills never really improved. We were still on Marshall Street when little Miss Nicolle came along on Nov. 4, 1979 and I confidently announced I would build her room up in the attic. I must say, despite the naysayers — like your mother — I did a pretty good job … by myself. Most of the walls lined up (okay there was a gap in the closet, but no one could see it). The panel on the roof only fell once. And, despite rumors to the contrary, I only lost one screwdriver. It’s probably still in the wall.
Mom and I used to enjoy going into the small playroom downstairs on Sunday nights and listening to David Jeremiah.
That incident, by the way, is how we evolved to artificial Christmas trees.
Mom always took care of decorating the Christmas tree. Every year she complained, but I think she secretly loved dressing the tree. And, in her own special way, every fold of garland had to be just right, all bulbs had to be lit and varied in color. Each year she wowed us.
Remember the ceramic mice she made for each of you? I hope you still have them and hang them proudly. I still have mine.
Mom was very talented and creative. Ceramics … crocheting … glitter art … knitting … baking. She developed her flair during those early years and refined them after being introduced to HGTV later in life.
I tried to give Mom a break by periodically taking you kids out for a Saturday junket. Remember Bishop Hill? Or Fermilab? Picnics in the park?
To be continued …
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Living a life is a lot like sports … except at the end of the game there’s no overtime.