Today we celebrate the birthday of our dear Mr. Cardigan! He's the lone tenor in a house full of sopranos; he's the light of my life, and if I were to write down every sentiment he creates in my heart--well, that doesn't work out very well in cold print, does it?
So, instead, I'd like to share a little about the beginning of this wonderful partnership.
The first time I met Mr. Cardigan was at a meeting of a local Catholics United for the Faith chapter. I wish I could tell you some hearts-and-flowers story of love at first glance, but it wouldn't be true. For one thing, my parents had met him and his parents before I ever met him: they met at a March for Life in our city, and I didn't go because I was in bed with a raging flu. So I got to hear all about this wonderful Catholic fellow, and any Catholic girl of a certain post-collegiate age is very good at listening between the lines.
So I knew, at our first meeting, that it was a setup. I knew his mom and at least one of my relatives would be watching to see if there was any chemistry. And I went out of my way to take off my contact lenses and substitute them for my large owlish glasses, something I never did, just in case.
But I didn't have to worry. He seemed pleasant, but neither smitten nor desperate; he talked more with my brother than with me. I was glad; it wasn't that I would have minded a friendship, but I really didn't think I was interested in a relationship.
When my mom learned that his family didn't have plans for Easter Sunday, she invited them to join us for dinner. It was subtle; I didn't see any visible evidence of matchmaking, but then again, I didn't think Mr. C. was all that interested in me, either. I could relax and let my guard down.
Sitting across from him that day at the rickety picnic table that had been brought indoors to augment the seating (yes, we started out at the kids' table!) I found out that there was a whole lot more to him than I would have ever guessed.
When he expressed an interest in Japanese culture, for instance, I asked how he'd gotten interested in that--and his offhand response was that he'd been there for four years. Really? Yes, in the Air Force...
In the conservative circles I moved in, and in the geographic region we lived in at the time, military service was practically a pickup line. But Mr. C. was humble about it, and I was only just finding it out. Further conversation revealed more about him: his reading habits, his interest in movies (including some of the old ones I loved), his various creative endeavors (he's a really good photographer). I found myself really enjoying our conversation, and though I was still absolutely certain that there'd never be anything between us but friendship I was glad that he was going to be such an interesting friend.
Later, when dinner was long over and my mom was getting ready to serve dessert, she offered coffee to all the guests. Mr. C. politely declined, and she (from whom I inherit my love of caffeine) offered tea, instead. Mr. C. smiled shyly--if it wasn't too much trouble, if anyone else wanted any...
I offered to make some. And as I stood on tiptoes to reach the teapot down from its shelf, I had the oddest sensation--as if I would be doing things like this for this man for the rest of my life. It was almost as though my guardian angel were shouting in my ear, "Yes! This one! This is the right one!" but I couldn't hear him; there was nothing but that very odd feeling of familiarity.
It passed, and I laughed at myself and made the tea. Mr. C. called a few days later; we went out, but it was definitely as friends (or at least, I thought so). Our lives got busy; from that first date in April it was several months before we went out again--in fact, it was September, and from the very start of that second date things were different; I couldn't pretend any more that I only wanted friendship with this incredible and dear man. We were engaged in November and married the following April.
It's an absolute privilege to be the wife of such a wonderful man, who is charming and helpful and loyal and interesting and supportive and talented and committed. I love that he is so willing to keep learning, to be involved in the church, to share the girls' interests with them, and to fill our lives with so much happiness. As we celebrate his birthday today, I want Mr. C. to know that he can count on me, for love and friendship, to stay his 'partner in crime', to give him what he gives me, joy and happiness and understanding and support and always, love.
And sometimes tea.