Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A tribute to my wife and our marriage

The day dawned clear and hot, very hot. In fact it would be the hottest June 4th on record in New Orleans. It already felt like mid August weather.

Hot weather usually bothers me but not today. This would be the last morning I woke up in my family home in old Algiers. It really is the only home I remembered living in up to that point. The two story home with a view of World War 2 barracks on the east side of the navy base was grandma’s home. She was already gone but arranged for my mom along with me and my two sisters to live there as long as we wanted. My mom never owned her own home; never.

Despite my love and respect for my family I was glad to be moving on. For the first time in my life, my residence would not be on the Westbank of New Orleans. This hot summer day, June 4, 1977 was my wedding day.

I often tell the story that I met my wife in the 5th grade, for this is very true. We were in the same class and lived just 10 blocks or so from each other. I remember my first “boy/girl” party I ever attended was at her home; a king cake party celebrating our Mardi Gras customs. She was nice enough, but I was not too interested in girls in the 5th grade.

By the 8th grade, girls seemed more interesting to me. In fact I mustered the courage to ask one of my classmates on a date. By the way, the girl said yes and she was not my wife. But fate intervened. I guess 8th grade girls are fickle as my date uttered those words that have stopped many a teenaged boy dead in their tracks: something suddenly came up. Ouch. Enter another friend or two or three who seemed to be on a mission. They all delivered the same message. If you ask Wendy, she will go. So, I asked, and true to my friends’ prediction, she said yes. And thankfully it would not be the last time she said yes! They say 15 year old kids really have no idea about things like love, commitment and relationship. I tend to agree, even though I fell in love on my very first date. Now let me be clear here, especially if you are very young and you are reading this, I do not advocate falling in love at 15; unless you are me and you find another Wendy.

We dated all through high school, despite attending different schools. She joined my CYO group, even played catcher on the girls softball team, even though Wendy was not Catholic. We spent time with each family and everyone became fast friends. We danced at each other’s senior prom and graduated within days of each other. She expressed a desire to become Catholic and did! We went to college together. And on February 14th (yes I am a romantic) 1976 I proposed to my high school sweetheart. She said yes.

So we married on June 4, 1977; an amazing 32 years ago. We were beginning our life together as husband and wife at my childhood Catholic Church. We moved to our first home in mid-city New Orleans. And we were no slow learners. Our 1st child, James (we call him Jimmy) came along 9 months and 1 day later. We explored our careers, moved back to the Westbank and bought our first home.

Our little family was doing great and Wendy and I continued to grow as husband and wife and as parents and learned how to navigate life together. We did everything together and all too often, Wendy stood by and supported my various pursuits and ideas. She even was wonderfully understanding when I committed a career blunder. In fact, in the midst of an awkward job change and not long after we suffered the loss of a baby from a miscarriage, we found ourselves expecting again. Our second child is Elizabeth, born 11 years after Jimmy.

One of the most profound decisions we made together was our life changing move to Abita Springs, La; a small Northshore community about 50 miles north of New Orleans. Here we embarked on new careers and a rural lifestyle with our horses and dogs and not so long ago a bunch of chickens and a goat. It was here that we found our Catholic identity at St. Jane Church and involved ourselves in ministry. It was from this faith community that I heard my calling to pursue the diaconate. And when I came home and told Wendy that I thought God may be calling me to be a Deacon, she simply said, “I know”.

Through almost six years of formation, Wendy supported me and loved me all the more. When ordination finally came, I knew that without her, I could not have arrived at this moment. But that’s been her consistent manner of support; from job changes to community involvement to the unbelievable commitment that comes from being the wife of a Deacon.

After 32 years of marriage and 37 years of togetherness, I can fall in love with her over and over, admire her and be totally amazed by her. Of course, like so many men, I don’t always tell her this and I can be a horse’s rear end too. But I pray that she knows how much having her as my wife and life partner really means.

In these days when our spiritual life is so strong, I thank God for the gift Wendy is in my life. I am thankful to God who created Wendy for me and for creating me for Wendy. I take seriously my Christian husband duty to help Wendy on her journey to eternal life and I know she is helping me achieve the same. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”. Mark 10:7-8.

When I reflect on our wedding day some 32 years ago, I remember the second reading we chose from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. And I change the word love to the name of my bride and it looks like this:

Wendy is patient, Wendy is kind. Wendy is not jealous, Wendy is not pompous. Wendy is not rude, Wendy does not seek her own interests, Wendy is not quick tempered nor broods over injury. Wendy does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Wendy bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.

Wendy never fails. Love never fails.

After these many years, through ups and downs, good times and bad, despite heartache and pain, in times of joy and laughter, our Love never fails.

Thank you Wendy for the love you always show me, for my beautiful children, for your Catholic Christian witness, for your unfailing devotion, for saying yes, for teaching me the true meaning of love, for your forgiveness, for being you and loving me.

Thank you God for Wendy! Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent!! Congratulations, Mike!! Wishing you and Wendy many, many more years of happiness and service to our Lord!