My dear sweet Ranae,
My how time flies. Here we are at our 14th wedding anniversary already. We don’t have big plans, other than the Mass tonight for the yearly Feast of St. Leo The Great. But other than that, today will be pretty normal around here I guess. But “normal” is pretty darn cool in this life spent with you.
We’ve traveled to England, France, Africa, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, The Cayman Islands, Jamaica and all but a handful of the United States.
My favorite times have always been the simple things though. I will never forget the year we spent in Arkansas. The weekend trips to all the wonderful state parks. It’s hard to believe we made it to 37 of them that year.
The time spent out west in our fifth-wheel trailer is a favorite memory of mine as well. Volunteering and traveling together has been such a wonderful experience. Of course, my favorite travel experience has to be the time living in Guatemala at the orphanage as missionaries. That was surreal to say the least.
But it isn’t those destinations that I remember so fondly as the time spent exploring them with you. The simplest of destinations and sneaking the occasional bottle of wine (don’t tell Wes!) into the state parks for our many picnics has been so much fun. My favorite park picnic has to be the Montauk State Park in Missouri and that one St. Valentines’ Day picnic there, but my favorite picnic memory of all has to be the hamburgers we cooked on the tailgate of our truck high in the Montana mountains in Blackfoot Valley near Stemple Pass. It was so cold but so much fun.
Out of all the places we have been together, the single biggest memory is how much love you put into making sure others were thought of at every opportunity. Every time Forrest came to visit, you always made sure we went to the destinations weeks in advance of his arrival, just to make certain when he arrived it would be time well spent with him and not wasted on some less than awesome destination. You made his visits so incredible not only for him, but for me. You were the parent I didn’t know how to be.
Who could forget all the trips with your sister, Cindy? Of course, she’s probably the easiest travel companion we have ever had, but you still made sure her trips were incredible as well. The time spent researching destinations and laying out our routes were simply amazing. Well… except for that one blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. That was pretty gnarly. LOL
The amount of love you have for people and your family (in particular) clearly shows in all that you do for anyone in your life. That’s what I will go to my grave remembering about you more than anything else…. the way you love.
People always comment on how spectacular my food photos look whenever I post them. It’s the love in which you have crafted our meals each day that sings out from those photos. I mean… who takes the time to prepare and present a meal like you do? A simple sandwich is turned into a work of art when you put it on the plate.
Not to mention, beyond the simple sandwiches, you are, without a doubt, the best cook I have ever met. I am certainly one spoiled old man.
Your love for children is nothing short of amazing. It saddens me greatly that my injury left you without children to raise as your own. I know the sacrifice you made all because of my injury and I will never forget it.
You took care of me during my recovery from that horrible accident that damn near left me permanently paralyzed. I’ve seen the love and patience in your caring for me during that three years and the time since, that is beyond anything I have ever seen or heard of before. I knew you were a nurse, but I have never received nursing care like that before!
I don’t think anyone will ever know just hard it was for you during that time or all that you gave up to stand by me. I have an idea, but my experience of those paralysis events pales in comparison to what you had to endure and it was because you were so willing to endure it, that my own suffering seemed so much less significant. Indeed, you were the only reason I didn’t just jump off a cliff to end the pain and discomfort at times (had I even been able to get to the cliff without you is a different story LOL).
Now that we have finally bought a piece of land and “settled down”, I have seen yet another part of you that continues to amaze me daily. You are always the first one up in the morning and you do more around here than I ever could. You make this place a home. A place I find so much comfort and happiness in. Even if it is just in our small cabin, while we build the bigger house, it’s a place I like to be and long for when I am away.
I can’t imagine life without you. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true. All my life, I haven’t had roots any deeper than top soil. It’s been a life of searching for the something that was missing. That is, until I started sharing this life with you. No matter where we are, you always make it feel like it’s just where we are supposed to be. You paint the entire house with love so deep that it’s the only thing I see when I walk in the cabin.
Even before I knew you, I knew I loved you. I knew something amazing and unbelievable was out there. I just had no idea who and how. The chance of meeting someone like you is hard to fathom. What odds.
I know you pray for me daily and I am certain that God hears your prayers. He has saw us through some situations that looked very bleak to say the least. He has used you to touch me in ways I am not sure you fully understand. He has used your gentle spirit and caring nature to show me the good in life. He gave me the best present of all… you as my wife!
I love you more than words can adequately express. I can’t believe it’s been 14 years. It has been the best 14 years of my life. Thank you! Thank you for loving me.
Your biggest fan,