Today is my wife Karen’s birthday.
I figured it would be a good day to talk a little about the woman who’s put up with me for half of her life.
Anyone that is a regular reader to this blog already knows how often I tell stories about the Wife here. She puts up with a lot from me.
What you don’t know about her is, quite often, if I’m stuck for a topic, she’s been the one to suggest one of those embarrassing stories.
She can laugh at herself. And she can put up with all my sarcasm. That’s impressive in it’s own right.
In fact, Karen was the first woman I dated that could not only take my sarcasm, but toss even better zingers back at me. That’s impressive.
And even more impressive was how she trained me to cook for her. Her secret (for all you brides to be out there) is to make three meals, each one progressively more deadly than the previous one. After the third and fearing for his life, the man will inevitably take over.
And when I complain now about having to cook all the time, she’ll get me by saying, “Okay, I’ll help you. But I just need to finish this off, so, you wanna start it and I’ll be along in a minute?”
An hour later, I’ll call everyone down to dinner. She at least has the good grace to look sheepish as she grins on her way by.
Luckily, even though she can’t cook, she’s fun to be around. Most of the time. There are times, however, when the woman can drive you absolutely batshit bonkers. For example, I’ve learned never to attempt a conversation with her while there’s an open email application within sight. Why? Because conversations will tend to run something like:
Me: “I’m heading out to the store, do you need anything?”
The Wife: “Oh! Yes, can you pick me up some…”
The Wife: “…” (as she reads an email)
Me: “…” (patiently waiting)
The Wife: “…”
Me: “Can I pick you up some…what?”
The Wife: (reluctantly tearing her gaze from the email to shoot me a withering stink eye) “…What?”
And so on.
I wish I could say this is the only time this happens. But I can’t. Sometimes Karen losing her train of thought can actually be classed as a full-on four-alarm derailment. She’ll be talking and then something shiny will catch her attention and then it’s like talking to something who’s battery is dying. For example:
Me: “Hey, wanna catch a movie tonight?”
The Wife: “Sure.”
Me: “Anything in particular you wanna see?”
The Wife: “Oh! Yeah! Have you seen that…”
The Wife: “…that, uh…”
Me: “Movie? Trailer? Movie trailer?”
The Wife: “Yeah! The one with…”
The Wife: “With…uh…”
The Wife: “Oh, you know…”
Me: “No, I really don’t. Male or female?”
The Wife: “They were in…”
Me: “In…what? Girl or guy, honey, girl or guy?”
The Wife: “…In that movie. You know, the one with the…yeah.”
And so on.
Good times. Not that I’m all that easy to live with either.
But seriously, Karen and I have been through a lot together, and the rollercoaster started very early, and it hasn’t ever really slowed down since.
We were tested early when we tried to save my nephew after his parents, the police, the Children’s Aid Society and the court system totally and completely failed him. We did too. Since then, we’ve seen our share of ups and downs. Mostly ups, thankfully. Moving in together. Getting pets. Supporting each other through shitty jobs. Finding out we were going to be parents. Being broke. New cars. New homes. New jobs that weren’t shitty. Losing loved ones. Gaining nieces. Getting older.
And, in the last year, really taking the time to learn more about each other, learning to understand each other better, to talk to each other better.
And here’s where I’m finding I’m struggling. I never struggle to write a blog. When I decide to write one, I sit down and write it.
But this one’s different. This one’s hard. Why? Because I don’t have the right words to describe this woman to you so you understand her. How do I describe all the crazy, wonderful elements that make up this person? How do I portray all the opposites that she embodies? How she’s calm and centred, but also fiery and emotional? How she’s open and sharing, but also intensely private? How she’s crazy funny, but also very serious. How she’s self-assured, but also insecure.
I don’t think I could ever do her justice.
I guess that’s the secret to Karen. She can’t be pigeon-holed. She can’t be labelled. She’s unique and very much an individual.
Most of all, she’s the mother to my kids, and my wife of almost 21 years.
And today is her birthday.
I love you, Karen. Happy birthday.