I wanted to write this because this is how we met. I know you remember that days when you were stationed in Germany and we became pen pals. The days before home computers, internet, email, snapchat, tinder and facebook. The days when a pen and paper were the only way we could talk. It would take at least a week to write a letter, receive a letter and send one back. We had to number them and try to remember what we wrote to each other. 🙂 In some ways, it feels like it was forever ago. In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday. We were just 18 and 19 years old at the time. It was the fall of 1989, and it changed my life in ways I never thought possible.
So here we are, 26 years later. You just celebrated your 45th birthday a couple of days ago and we have 20 children . I couldn’t help but watch you this week and reflect on a life that has gone in an unexpected yet wonderful direction. We talked about marriage, we talked about children, we talked about dreams, goals and expectations. Could you ever have imagined this is where we would be? You attended The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park,NY. Then onto your Bachelors at Baker College in Auburn Hills, Michigan and finally your Master’s at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. (please no more schooling as our family doubles in size after every degree.) We have gone Hunstville, Alabama (where Kodey was born) to Augsburg, Germany (where Josh was born) to Hyde Park, New York to Auburn Hills/ Pontiac, Michigan (where Nathan and Zach were born) to Orem, Utah (and everyone else born.) From no kids to 2 to 4 to 8 all the way to 60+.
So, back to me watching you…(not in a creepy, stalker way) I watched you work with our little girl. She wanted to help you fix the washer at our cabin. You know what you did? You let her. You asked her questions, you made her feel important. I watched her beautiful face light up. She had a smile that would brighten the darkest of days. You made me feel blessed. You made me feel humbled to witness such a simple yet profound moment. I have watched you as you recognize each child’s gift and worked hard to enhance it. You laughed, scolded, corrected, taught and encouraged each child. I listen to the songs you and I have “given” to each child. They are beautiful and describe our children perfectly. They are a reflection of you as you are reflection of our Heavenly Father.
There are a few other things that I love about you. The list would be too long for me to mention and way to personal but, here are a few. When I suggest I like something or need something done, you go out of your way to make sure it happens. It may not be the way I think about it but, you make my dreams and wishes a reality. Remember my trip to Scotland and London? I cried as I finally walked the grounds of someone who was significant in my childhood life. The only thing that would have made the trip better is if you had been with me. But, you made it a reality for me. A lifelong dream became a reality because you sacrificed and encouraged me to go and do something I thought was going to be impossible. Not only the big trips either….there have been numerous small things you have done or made happen for me.
The greatest joy I think I have ever had is watching you become a dad. You have been an amazing dad. Has it been perfect? Nope. But, I have watched you learn, grow and extend yourself in ways that you would never have dreamed possible. 20 kids??? Really? How did that happen? You show our boys how to treat women. You show them how to honor their priesthood. I love watching my boys hold open doors for their family. I see them willingly serve and help others, just like you do. Seeing our oldest son, court a beautiful young lady in the kindest way is a tribute to you. He treats her with respect and honors what he has been taught because you have treated me that way and he has watched closely. Hearing our girls talk about the type a man they hope to marry. They have said they hope they find someone who treats them like you treat me. (little do they know, you are a work in progress) 😉 You are the foundation of our family. You have taught them that weakness doesn’t make you weak. You have shown them that we can work through our weakness and become strong in that area.
Now, as to the life we have created. So many years together. So much laughter. So much heartbreak. So much joy. So much anger. So much love. So much life we have lived.
Thank you. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for helping me to stretch myself and raise 20 children. Thank you for all of your love and devotion. Thank you for your love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your beautiful face that I get to see each and every day. Thank you for writing back when you received your first letter from a young girl. Thank you for meeting me in the Detroit Airport. Thank you for recognizing what we could have together. Thank you for allowing me to grow old gracefully, confidently and lovingly. Thank you for giving me an eternal family. Thank you for being you.
I love you seems inadequate but it is all I have to offer you that is important. It is all that matters.