It’s a cliché spoken a million times a day all over the world in a hundred different languages.
‘I am so lucky’.
But for me, it’s simply a fact. I have the same problems as you do. Stress. Financial challenges. Work-Life balance. Struggling to be the best husband, father, son, brother, friend, employee, and human being I can be. And frequently falling short. But I’ve got a secret weapon in my daily battles.
I don’t deserve it. I have no idea how I stumbled upon it, nor how I’ve managed to hold onto it. But it’s saved me from life’s destructive forces a thousand times. Her name is Valerie, and she’s my wife. This year we’ll celebrate 20 years husband and wife. In all that time, I’ve never had even once the fleeting thought ‘what would my life be like if I’d married someone else?’. Not once. Among innumerable daydreams, I’ve never entertained that fantasy. When it comes to Valerie, only one thought rises from the depths of my subconscious.
‘I am so lucky’.
It’s highly probable my wife is not human. I can catalogue the evidence and it’s nearly insurmountable. She’s nice. Really nice. Inhumanly nice, to almost everyone she meets. Strangers, poor people, rich people, foreigners, even those who don’t reciprocate her vast and overwhelming niceness. She waves to complete strangers on the street. The planet she comes from apparently demands it. I cannot relate. Although I admire and value kindness as one of life’s most valuable commodities, I am nice when I’m in the mood and have plenty to spare. I cannot always muster it up myself, as I am human, while my wife clearly is not.
My wife is a South Carolina girl, hailing from a tiny bastion of southern charm called Abbeville. They have a town square there. ‘Buddy’s’ is the local store where you can buy anything the universe has to offer – even wheels of homemade cheese. She loves stories, country wisdom, circus peanuts, nostalgia, and celebrates her small town roots every day of her life. She doesn’t call her colorful, bigger than life 90 year old grandmother ‘grandma’, but rather ‘Darlin’. She has no time for the usual daily fare of the human woman – isn’t interested in shopping, makeup, fashion, or jewelry. She doesn’t like shoes and would refuse to wear them if stores didn’t demand it of her. I believe this constitutes absolute proof she cannot be a human female.
My wife is too busy being kind, nice, and worrying about others to partake in the culture of the US woman. She gets up, every morning, to make me coffee. I tell her not to, but she doesn’t listen. Valerie works for minimum wage at a pre-school program during the week, although she could make more wages in one shift as a Registered Nurse. She wants to be close to the kids and loves teaching. A Bosnian family that barely speaks English moved in across the street. My wife immediately befriended them, took them food, and welcomed them with open arms. That’s how she rolls. These are the details that swell my heart with love so huge I feel like I could burst. Not manly words, I fully recognize, but true ones. I don’t tell my wife these kinds of things. She wouldn’t react since to her love is like breathing – its what we do. She believes you express your love in living, not in words. In my world, love is a maelstrom of complicated, personal, and secret emotions that scream to be expressed. For my wife, she quietly and simply lives love every day. That’s all the expression she needs.
When I met my wife, I misjudged her. Most people do. For we often make a common mistake when faced with people that are absolutely, inexplicably just too damn nice. We view them as weak. Or simple. Or naively detached from ‘reality’. We think we can dominate them, manipulate them, control them, or take advantage of them. My wife is the nicest bulldog you could ever meet. Mess with her husband, her kids, her family, anyone or anything that she loves, and you’ll find yourself facing bared teeth and an iron will. My wife knows what’s right. And God help you if you get in the way of it. Teddy Roosevelt would’ve loved my wife.
I love that about her.
I dated many a cool chick growing up. They were beautiful, witty, glamorous, sexy, dynamic, fun. I valued all those things as we all do. Then I met Valerie. She was beautiful, witty, glamorous, sexy, dynamic, and fun. But there was something else about her I couldn’t quite distill down to an adjective. She was…well….Valerie. She was someone I’d imagined my whole life but never recognized until she strolled up the sidewalk and knocked on my apartment door in late Summer 1987.
I remember our first real conversation that evening. It should’ve been stilted, awkward, stumbling, both of us bumbling along trying to make our best impressions. But it felt like reuniting with an old friend. I couldn’t believe the immediate connection, so strong, I hit the fast-forward button and made her kiss me halfway through, a clear breach of first date etiquette. Every minute since that night I’ve had but one feeling about my wife. She is the kindest, most loving creature I have met in my journeys on planet Earth.
I am so lucky.