I could be sad today…but I refuse.  Today is my 34 wedding anniversary but I’m celebrating it alone.  My husband, Kramer, died last June and he’s not here to celebrate with me today.  I know many people would take it as a sad day but like I said, I refuse to do that as July 26th, 1986 marks the day I made one of the very best life choices.

At the time I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into.  Sure, I loved Kramer.  I thought I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.  But, I was only 20.  I had thought I was in love before.  This time…I was pregnant and in love so I decided to give marriage a go.  That’s what people did back then.  They got married if they were pregnant.  We had discussed getting married the next summer after I was done with college, but that’s as far as we had gotten.

We had met the summer before.  Lori the gal in pink, my college roommate, introduced me to Kramer when we were at a party in their hometown area.

Of all the things Kramer and I did in our life, I know we’d both agree that getting married was the smartest thing.  I don’t know that anyone else could have put up with the other of us.

Our kids always say:“Mom, you and Dad made it really hard for us to find a spouse.  You and Dad never fought.  We’ve never seen examples of how to “make up” or compromise”.

That is true to a certain extent.  They rarely saw us disagree let alone fight…but we did from time to time but it was typically something they didn’t see.  Compared to most couples…we were both pretty easy going with each other.

It all helped the day I figured out that most of the reasons I got mad at him were truly “double edged sword” situations.  Let me explain:

I would get mad because he worked so much– To much really.  He’d always work a minimum of 55 hours.  That’s what his salary was based on but he worked 7 days a week and typically had more like 65 hours in unless it was spring or fall.  Then he had weeks that he worked 110 hours a week.  I’m not exaggerating at all.  He really did.  As a stay home/work from home mom with the five kids, the raising of the kids fell a lot on me.  I was at times overwhelmed and wanted more help.  When he was working those long hours I often said I felt like a single parent.

Then I figured out that by him working those hours, I didn’t have to go get a town job.  I could stay home with the kids.  That was the other side to that double edged sword.  I loved staying home with the kids and working from home.  I loved that and finally figured out that his long hours, let me do that…so, I could be mad at the long hours or I could embrace it.  I embraced it and learned to deal with the times I felt lonely or was taking care of the kids myself.

I would get mad because when Kramer was finally home, he often had meetings.  He was a first responder and fireman.  He would go to the meetings and then sit around and chat.  I was frustrated that he didn’t come home and spend time with me….and then I rethought that all.

I loved that he supported our community.  I was so thankful the times his first responder knowledge helped our own family.  I can’t tell you how many people talked to me at his funeral about how thankful they were that he came as a first responder to their home and he helped them.  That was totally worth all the times I wished he was home with me rather than on a call or at a meeting.  That was the other side of the double edged sword.  Plus…he loved the people that were on the first responders and firemen department.  If he was working all those hours, he deserved some me time.  Once I realized that, things were easier for me.

I learned that there were so many good consequences that come from actions that I didn’t like.  I could stay home with kids and not have to get a town job if I could learn to live with Kramer’s long work hours.  Our family could benefit and our community could benefit if I could learn to tolerate all the time he was away at meetings and calls.

Kramer was the least fashionable person ever.  Quite often his wardrobe embarrassed me.  I would buy him clothes and he would ask me why I bought them.  He certainly didn’t need any new clothes..or so he said.  He had four pair of work jeans, two for good and a pair of dress pants.  He didn’t need anymore.  He had six work shirts that he wore beyond shreds and protested if I tried to buy more.  I didn’t like it…until one day I figured out I couldn’t change him.  He wasn’t a reflection of me.  He was a grown man and responsible for his own clothing choices.  About then I realized that  his lack of spending left me more money in the clothes budget and I could get things more often.  I liked that and learned to ignore what he wore.

So many of the little things that bugged me I learned to change my attitude about and accept.  None of the things hurt me.  I believe true love isn’t there without true acceptance of the other person…the moments you love the person even with their warts and flaws.  So many times, people fight because the other can’t accept what they see as the others flaws or what they see as shortcomings in their mate.

Early on in our marriage, I took Kramer working so much at the farm as a slight against me…I thought he didn’t want to be with us.  In later life with him, I saw that he truly loved his job.  I saw that farming was in his blood.  I saw that he wanted to provide for us and did.  He was being himself…he wasn’t staying away from us because he didn’t want to be with us.  He simply struggled with finding a balance between work and home.  Early on, it was one of my biggest complaints.  Later after my acceptance, it wasn’t a problem at all….and then when he did come home, that time we had together was so much better.

We really got along so good…that doesn’t mean I didn’t roll my eyes now and then.  It doesn’t mean that he didn’t wonder about me too.  I’m sure there were many things, like my crafting, that he had to learn to live with too.  All in all, we were a really good fit.

So for some people, they’d be sad today…after all, I’m celebrating my anniversary alone.  My husband is in the grave.  But…like I said, I REFUSE to be sad.  Today I’m celebrating the great years we had.  I’d rather have the years I had happy and yoked to a wonderful man than more years with a man I found many faults in and wasn’t truly in love with.  Kramer, I was in love with…and happily still am.  So for me, this marks anniversary number 34…in my heart and sole, I’m still married.

27 thoughts on “Anniversary”

  1. That is a wonderful post for your kids (and anyone else getting married) to have and read. Deep thoughts about long lasting relationships.

  2. This brought tears to my eyes. If more people had your view on life and relationship the world would be a better place to live in! Thanks for your words of wisdom!

  3. Joy Van den top

    Happy Anniversary, Jo! You have a great attitude! Farmers are workaholics, it’s a genetic thing! I have one of those too. Hope you have a good day!

  4. Wonderful post, Jo! You and Kramer had something special and that should be celebrated. Great memories of struggle, resolution and most of all, love. You made it work. Congratulations!

  5. Happy anniversary, Jo! If more people could learn and accept like you did, I think there would be fewer divorces. You did a great job rearing your children and that is such a great accomplishment. I love hearing about your family, so midwest, down to earth!

  6. Next Sunday, August 2nd, I will celebrate my 38th wedding anniversary. It will be my 4th one celebrated alone, as I lost my husband September 25, 2016. He passed away from colon cancer. He was and still is my soulmate. Like you in my heart and soul I am still married. Thank you for sharing all the ups and downs. I have read your blog at least 8 yrs and truly love it.

  7. You have such a wonderful attitude, Jo. Those life lessons you learned sound very familiar to me. My own husband spent plenty of extra hours at work along the way. The good to come out of my frustration? That’s the very reason I started quilting!! It was my way to cope with and fill those lonely hours before we had kids. :o))

  8. Happy Anniversary, Jo! You are right about so many things, and this is another one. Bless you for saying it so well.

  9. Happy anniversary Jo! Yes you should celebrate all the years you did have together and all the great memories!!!

  10. Your big happy kid filled family is a wonderful result of your marriage and commitment to Kramer. So much to celebrate. The fact that your kids rarely witnessed a disagreement is commendable. Your lessons on love and marriage are our journey as well (married at 19, 40y ago).

    Happy Anniversary to you and the love of your life. Married indeed :-)

  11. Happy anniversary memories!
    Once again you mirror my thoughts. We both had a couple of great guys! Hard working and loving us no matter what.

    So many wonderful memories of lives well lived and partners well chosen.

  12. I am celebrating my 34th with my Tom on Aug 9. Love the pic – Oh, those 80s styles!! Your words are beautiful. So many young couples should listen to them with their hearts and their heads. In the end, its having the same goal that keeps all the little stuff and annoyances in perspective. You are blessed to be Kramer and Jo for so long!

  13. What a wonderful, loving tribute to your husband! If more people could adopt this attitude, there would be less divorce and much more joy in life. Happy anniversary!

  14. Happy Anniversary, Jo! I remember that day well but can’t believe that it was 34 years ago. Love endures all things! I agree that the love between Roger and you should be celebrated every year! Love takes many forms as you so eloquently described the give and understanding of lasting love. So celebrate the union of Roger and you and the your family that continues to grow in your example of true love.

  15. Barbara Firesheets

    Happy Anniversary! What wonderful advice for married couples. Keep all those memories alive in your heart.

  16. sonja banister

    Dear Jo – Your story so closely resembles my own – only I lost my dear honey almost 2 yrs ago – just shy of our 60th anniversary. I, too was just 20 when we met on blind date, married 3 months later & began a long, sometimes difficult marriage. As soon as you realize that a relationship is not always 50-50 and it takes LOTS of compromise to make it successful… things go smoother. I married “forever” – so I understand the anniversaries in your heart. Small world that I happened on this blog – July 26th marks my 13th year of being cancer free, and we also celebrated my mom’s 98th birthday! So keep on celebrating the anniversaries and precious memories …. Hugs – Sonja

  17. Jo, congratulations on your anniversary. I married at 21 and husband was 23. We were poor, he was a corporal in the USMC but were so happy. We returned to live in Ireland in ’81 and will celebrate 45 years in October. Your husband is like a lot of Irish mem, work all the hours of the day and night to support their families, it did mean thatmothers could remain in the home until the kids were older or when they went to secondary school. Kamer’s dress sense is so like my mam, we actually had arguments about it, but like you I got ove it. And we lived happily ever after.

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