In that beat icon masterwork, On The Road, Kerouac said, "The prettiest girls in the world live in Des Moines." Having spent part of my life in Des Moines, I had always assumed that was the booze talking. Eleven years ago, however, I had a change of heart. It didn't matter whether or not all the prettiest girls lived there; the prettiest one did. You see, Des Moines is where I met my wife.
My wife is beautiful. From her flawless, alabaster skin to her big easy smile; from her warm blue eyes to her long, but childlike fingers, everything about her says, "heaven, right this way." Even if she weren't so lovely she would still win you over. She is sweetness incarnate. Gentleness, understanding, caring and thoughtfulness, are all facets of her being and as natural to her as blinking to me. She can make my worst day seem silly with a pat on the back. Yeah, she's that good.
Then there is that laugh, that easy, unjaded, welcoming laugh, that perfectly complements my rather ham-like qualities. It isn't just me upon whom that warm laughter is bestowed. No, she can find humor in the kids even on those occasions when all I glean is annoyance. I roll my eyes, but she laughs with no reservations. She laughs at herself, recognizing the silly or the foolish in her actions and racing with it. She doesn't fear her own childishness, a trait not a few of us could benefit from acquiring.
She supports us; tramps off to work everyday to earn our daily bread. When we had children we decided that one of us would stay home and the other would not. Her profession, more lucrative than mine, gave her the wage-earner slot. That is hard on her. I take nothing away from myself, as raising kids is the hardest thing I have ever done, but her lot is harder still. She must tear herself away each day from the children she adores, knowing that some little miracle will invariably occur while she is gone. On her days off she will often excitedly point out some task or achievement by the boy or girl and, insensitive fool that I am, I will reply, "Yeah, he/she did that the other day." And still, she takes a clod like me in stride and thinks nothing of it.
Younger than I by quite a bit, she seems unconcerned with the prospect that, not long after we have ferried the last of the kids out of the house some twenty years hence, she will face an aging spouse who will probably be in need of care himself. She accepts that - it was part of the package. It's another unselfish part of her character - another reason she is wonderful.
My life is so much better with her than it would have been without that I can not measure the difference. There isn't a device to quantify it, only the acute sense that I was fortunate beyond what I probably deserved and will remain so as long as she will have me.
The word love will get tossed around a lot today. I won't toss it for fear of losing it. Instead, I hold it aloft, a boast, I suppose, that I have it and she is grand.