When my wife and I were engaged, we talked about growing old together. I keep reminding her that, come Saturday, she will fulfill our destiny by turning 40.
And we will be old together.
When I turned 40 a few weeks ago, I wrote a column on being old. Plenty of people corrected me, saying I was not old. Most of those people were 41 and up.
My wife and I have been together for almost half of our lives, and so we have seen each other change over the past 20 years, although I’m pleased to say that, when I look at pictures of us from college, we haven’t changed that much. My wife has her mother’s genetic gift of keeping blonde hair, something my wife has assured me will continue for decades to come. (When I pointed that out to my wife, she did note that she has not, in fact, starting getting gray hair, while the same cannot be said for me. I think that was a cheap shot.)
There are a few ways my wife has changed over the last 20 years. For example, when we met, my wife was not a fan of animals. Any of them. She was fine with them existing, but she had no desire to be around them, in particular living with them. Now that she lives with three dogs, a cat, a tortoise and two snakes, she seems to have overcome that. She’s also come to grips that we will on occasion pull over to see road kill. That said, she can still do without birds.
She has also progressed nicely at getting annoyed by certain sayings. Little did I know a mini-rant years ago about the phrase “very unique” would send her into a lifetime of “Unique means one of a kind. It can’t be very one of a kind. Either it is or it isn’t.”
But for the most part, she’s still pretty much the same person I met 20 years ago.
She is still one of the most nurturing souls I’ve ever met, which is nice in a time of crisis or tragedy. Of course, I’m reminded of it daily since we have two kids, and she is without a doubt head nurse and Dr. Mom. It is from that kindness I learned that the following phrase is unacceptable: “Tears won’t make it stop hurting.”
My wife still has an issue with her volunteering arm, which reflexively flies up when a volunteer opportunity presents itself. While that keeps our schedule rather tight, on the rare occasions neither of have anything, we often find ourselves out on a quest for things to do.
She still has a sense of adventure and spontaneity, something that is evident on our family trips. I used to be of the mindset that the goal of a trip was to get to the destination, partake in the vacation, and get home. My wife has converted me to the lifestyle that includes meandering side trips during family vacations that result in wonderful memories, even if they sometimes include our van getting stuck in a ditch on a dirt road in the middle of Nowhere, N.C.
Just as when we met, my favorite phrase that she uses on occasion is still the same: “Get him!” She says it when we’re watching football. We’re both Bama grads and Falcons fans and love watching the game together.
To her credit, she has spent a lot of time watching games while rocking little ones to sleep while I hoop and holler at the game, which that alone makes her one of the greatest people of all time. But when she’s in game mode and the D is in pursuit, you’ll hear it.
Speaking of football games, my wife is still the queen of game time eats. She makes the best tailgate food, something anyone in my fraternity knew 20 years ago. The legend of the Little Sandwiches lives today. She would make these trays of awesome little ham and turkey sandwiches that are not only delicious but, some will tell you, can offset a Friday night in a fraternity house.
I guess we’re both pretty lucky that we’ve stayed pretty much the same people over 20 years. Sure, she’s turning 40. But what do I expect from my Ol’ Lady?
Happy birthday, babe.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, and his wife approved this column.