On June 2, Deborah and I will celebrat our 42nd anniversary together.
Taken in the context of our age, as of today, we have known each other and have been together for the majority of our lives. What began as two teenagers going on their first date to a spring banquet at Tabor College in 1969 has blossomed into a lifetime of memories of children and grand-children.
Heroes are not born. They are created from raw humanity, taught and formed by the challenges thrown at them as they move from one experience to another. They face their reality head-on and make the right choices that, while walking through fire, are tested and hardened into the character that makes them great.
I have a short list of people I admire and are heroes like that. Deborah is on that list.
Not long after our first son was born, we were expecting our second child. Late one night, I awoke to a loud noise, a scream of intense pain coming from my wife. After regaining my senses, I realized she was in grave danger. Her abdomen was swollen and growing larger.
I concluded she was bleeding internally. I quickly dressed and drove her to the emergency entrance of the hospital, where ER personnel could not even find a pulse.
The rest of the night was pretty much a blur for me as the hospital geared up for emergency surgery. They were short of her blood type. One phone call later, the Kansas Highway Patrol made a speedy delivery of whole blood from Wichita.
How Deborah survived the wait, I do not know. Doctors indicated she had lost nearly her entire supply of blood. Later, she described her experience as being in a pool of water, struggling to come up for air, focusing on the need to survive to care for her 2-year-old child.
Had she not fought so hard to live, we would not have experienced the joy of welcoming our two younger children into the family. My life and that of our oldest son would have changed dramatically.
Later, as our family had grown to three children, we were thinking about the future and where it might lead. Deborah?s desire to teach began the journey into academia that continues to this day.
Before the concept of adult education became popular, Deborah re-entered college after having left to start a family. Her tenacity and dedication to see it through to the end cannot be overstated. She earned her doctorate in literature and vriticism after six years of classes in Wichita and Indiana, Pa., while teaching college-level English and raising a family.
Deborah has left her mark on our family. Our home is a place where reading and singing would influence not only our children, but also yours truly. Though my family home was a place where music and education was important, her love for literature and music enhanced that experience even further.
The early days of the Internet revived my interest in writing. My passion had waned after college. As I explored the avenues of digital media, Deborah encouraged me to consider writing, doing something more than chatting online as a way to develop my skill.
In retrospect, one might ask, ?How do you define love?? As a noun, love is a deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.
It may also be a feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair?the emotion of sex and romance. I got this definition from a search on Yahoo!, so I do not take credit for it? though I do not disagree, either.
Love is more than that, however. It also is a statement about commitment, of affirmation, a recognition that a bond exists that will never be broken. It is about building a relationship, investing time, energy and every available resource to strengthen that bond.
That said, I am imperfect. So is my wife. We still get along and we do enjoy each other?s company. Love with patience is a practiced virtue, 365 days a year, year after year. So is the art of forgiving one another.
Looking back, little did I know that my first encoun?ter with a shy 16-year-old, blonde, blue-eyed girl, sitting in the church choir, would be transformed into a lifetime of experiences.
Happy 42nd anniversary, Deborah!