The Content of Our Lives

By Pat Edwards

(written in 2014)

How can any of us really evaluate the content of our lives? There are so many facets!
I’ve found that, in the 72 years of my own life, my experiences, mistakes, achievements and each segment of it along the way has contributed to the person I have become – the good and the not-so-good elements.

As a young child, I was quiet and shy, and so very innocent. As a teenager, I still was. I never had the confidence or self-esteem that would allow me to emerge from my comfort zones. Today, I am still shy and even somewhat reclusive, but I’ve come to the realization that I was blessed with the ability to write my thoughts and my feelings in a way that I could never speak, vocally. Working and fighting my way through that shyness and self-doubt was a long, arduous journey that I could not have undertaken without the support of the one person who has been by my side for almost its entirety.

This story stems from recent reflections I have been having as my husband Jim and I celebrate the year of our 50th wedding anniversary. On May 30 of this year (2014), we were aboard a cruise ship heading for Alaska. With my sister, Barbara, and her husband, Dwight, we booked the 7-day cruise and a 3-day excursion by bus into the Denali just for that purpose.

How can 50 years have already gone by since that Memorial Day in 1964 when we said “I do” in the gymnasium of the St. Alice Catholic Church in Springfield? “Why a gymnasium?” you might ask. Because at the time, St. Alice, where Jim’s family were members, had just been torn down to make way for a spectacular new church that was in the process of being built – but, alas! not in time for our wedding. The church services and masses were, at the time, being held in the school’s gymnasium and it was apropos for the two of us to have basketball hoops visible in many of our wedding pictures.

Jim n Me 05-30-1964

We met two years earlier after Jim had returned from a 4-year stint in the U.S. Army in Germany… during the time when the Berlin Wall was being built. He was recruited by my co-worker and his friend, Jerry Cyphert, to play basketball for Jerry’s AAU team. Jim and his friend, Rick Herman, had spent much of their time in Germany playing basketball and football for the U.S. Army against neighboring bases. Part of their duties, too, was to maintain the gyms. At 6′ 4″, Jim had played with Rick on the 1958 Springfield High School championship basketball team as well as its football squad.

So, it now seems providential that Jerry Cyphert talked me into keeping score for his AAU team. Even though I was not an athlete, it seems now that basketball was ordained to be a part of our lives.

The purpose of this story is dedicated to Jim and to our 50 years of marriage. I’ll begin with the letter I wrote to him the day before our anniversary date:

Well… tomorrow, it will be 50 years… a half of a century! Can you believe it?
Throughout those 50 years and even before, you have always been there for me… always. You’ve never waivered in your devotion and dedication to not only me, but to our family, as well.

Together, we have somehow managed to raise the most wonderful children that either of us could have imagined.

We made mistakes… oh yes!… we made plenty! But, despite those mistakes and our ‘trial and error’ methods of parenting, we evidently instilled in them the values that each one of them exhibits today and they, in turn, have instilled those same values into their own children. What a legacy we have built… together!

One of the most tender moments I have of our relationship were those hours in 1983 when you sat next to my hospital bed, quietly holding my hand and placing cool washcloths against my forehead. The doctors were trying to tame the raging fever that had enveloped me so that they could remove what we all believed to be a malignant tumor that had enveloped my kidney. I know that you were frightened… I was frightened… but you never left my side and you willed your strength into me. Fortunately, against 80% odds, the tumor was benign and although my kidney was removed, the other has continued to provide for me well.

Remember? I wrote a story of that experience several years later, in 1987. I submitted it as an entry in a contest called “Always and Forever” (the name of Randy Travis’ new album) sponsored by KUGN-FM radio in Eugene. My letter was chosen as the winner and we were treated to a wonderful evening at the Hult Center, meeting and visiting with Randy Travis in person in his tour bus for about 20 minutes. At the time, he presented me with a beautiful handcrafted gold necklace with an open umbrella as its pendant. A tiny diamond raindrop dangled from one of the spines of the umbrella and I wore that necklace for years afterwards.

You’ve always been my Superman – my hero. There was never anything that you couldn’t do. You had the strength of a bull and a stubborn determination to accomplish whatever needed to be done. And, you always succeeded – not necessarily the way I was hoping it would be done, but if it was for me, I knew that it was done with love.

We’ve had disagreements; the road has been rocky in spots, but neither of us had any desire to take a different route, and that determination has reaped so many rewards.

So, here’s to our journey towards the next 50! I don’t know how far we’ll get down that road, but however far it takes us, we’ll continue to do it together… Always and Forever! Happy 50th Anniversary my Love!!

So, the content of my life has indeed had many facets, but the most important ones in the past 50 years, especially, have been family and home and they will always take precedence over everything else in my life.

Printed in Groundwaters (Volume 10 Issue 4; Summer 2014)

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