Perhaps one of the hardest words in the English language to define is family. It is also one of the simplest.
If asked while growing up on Flamingo Street, I would’ve said our family consisted of us four brothers, The Sister, Mom and Dad, Tweet, the little green parakeet who ate hushpuppies off Dad’s head during dinner time, and of course Duke, our black lab.
If asked today, my answer would be quite different. Through the years I’ve come to realize the meaning of family goes much deeper, but the enlightenment wasn’t my own. It took another much more intelligent and kinder than I to show me what family truly means.
Nineteen years of yesterdays today is when our family grew for the first time in a long time. On that day The Wife became a part of our family, and I will forever be blessed that she did.
I’ve often wondered why she would want to be a part of our dysfunctional (at best) family. What did she see in me? To put it simply, when we met so many years ago, my life was a mess. I asked her the other day what she saw in me. She kissed me and then smiled, “Silly, I didn’t see you with my eyes. I saw you with my heart.”
There’s no anniversary gift worthy enough to express my feelings. What do you give someone who opens doors and helps you walk down paths you never thought possible, literally changing your life forever? I have only my words. Sadly, they are inadequate to show my gratitude and love.
Just as moths gather to share the warmth of a porch light on cool nights, the warmth from her personality have folks naturally gravitating towards her whenever she enters a room. Her ability to have and keep a positive outlook, even when faced with the direst of circumstances, is amazing. It’s just one of the things that attracted this moth to her warm light so many years ago.
Often I look back, lamenting over past decisions that have turned out not to be the greatest. I’m guilty of getting stuck in the mire of “could’ve, should’ve.” One day I asked why she doesn’t do the same.
“It’s not that I don’t remember. I simply choose not to. Can’t move forward if you’re always looking back. Tormenting yourself over past decisions that can’t be changed robs tomorrow of all its joy.”
When we met for the first time, it was on a blind date. For me, there was no joy in any of the tomorrows, and yesterdays were tearing me apart. But from that very first evening, my eyes were opened, allowing the joys of tomorrow to flow in once more. A glimmer of hope started to flicker – eventually burning so brightly it chased away all the darkness of yesterdays away and bringing peace once more to my soul. And she did that for me without even knowing.
I’ve watched as she brings warmth and light to everyone she meets. Even complete strangers. She treats everyone like they’re family. When asked why, her answer took me back to a blind date one evening a lifetime ago.
Placing a hand on my face, she gave me a lingering kiss, then replied, “You were a stranger once also. After all, we’re all part of a larger family.”
Asking for nothing in return, The Wife gives light in the darkest of moments and warmth in the coldest of nights. I will be eternally grateful to her for showing me the true meaning of family and becoming part of ours – nineteen years of yesterdays today.
Happy Anniversary, My Love.
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]