He’s always there. For thirty long years he’s been a constant presence in my life. When I need him he comes running, when I require comforting he holds me, when I just want to laugh out loud at something entirely ridiculous he will say the right thing. Yes, there are times when he drives me crazy, like when I ask his opinion about clothes.
“Do I look okay?” I’ll ask, twirling in my new dress/skirt/bathing suit/whatever.
“You always look wonderful,” he replies, still with his nose in his paper.
“Heathcliff!!!” Yupp; I call him Heathcliff, this due to an over consumption of Dave Allen at an impressive age. (Remember Dave Allen? Irish comedian lacking a finger? No? Too bad.)
“But you do,” he says, and now he’s looking at me in a way that makes me twirl some more. You know, I actually think he means it…
Today it’s exactly thirty years ago since we became an item. Has he remembered, given me flowers, expensive jewelry or in some way commemorated the day? Nah. He’s bad at anniversaries, and in general I sort this by dropping a series of increasingly unveiled hints as to any approaching Important Date. This time I didn’t, and I’m not all that bothered. It was enough to snuggle up close in the sofa and share a little hug, just him and I.
There’s no one I ‘d rather spend time with than him. We walk, we talk, we start new exciting projects on a regular basis, we play Scrabble (although not quite as avidly now as before. This is due to him becoming too good, and as this is the only board game at which I excel, I have no desire to tempt fate too often…) We watch soppy movies and lie close together under the duvet and tell each other silly little stories. Now and then we stand outside in the freezing cold and crane our heads back to stare at the stars, and he points out one constellation after the other. He teaches me about birds and trees , I tell him about flowers. He clears out the shed, I cook us something nice to eat. When I become too infatuated with one or other make believe hero he gives me a little fridge magnet which says “hold on to your man; you never know when he might come in useful”, and it makes me cry and laugh at the same time, because he’s ALWAYS useful – no, he’s necessary – in my life.
When life has unravelled he’s been there to pick up the pieces. Where I blow hot and cold, he’s a mild and constant warm, and at times I really, really try to get a rise out of him, but it generally doesn’t work. Sometimes that is very enervating, let me tell you… He steals more than his share of the bed – every night he trespasses into my half, but what can you say when he just smiles and says he wants to lie close?
My man is not only a wonderful husband, he’s a marvellous father – has been from day one. Okay, so it was something of an irritation that all our kids said “Pappa” before they said “Mamma” (Ingrates; who stayed at home, hey?) but quite frankly he deserved it. Daddy came home and the babies lit up, and never did he sound angry or irritated or talk about having work to do, no, he was just there, with them.
He can’t sing to save his life – but he beats me silly at song quizzes (HOW does he do that?). I have still to find his dancing feet, but what he lacks in skills and rhythm, he more than makes up with passion and enthusiasm. As competitive as I am (our poor kids; their parents never let them win…) he will nonetheless now and then let me win a game or two of Othello or checkers. He thinks I don’t notice – of course I do – and I pretend I’m thrilled to bits over this sudden and unexpected win, which always makes him grin.
Thirty years ago I was given a gift – the greatest gift of my life. When he holds out his hand I stick my hand into his and braid my fingers round his warm, strong digits. This is how it is with us; hand in hand through life. I hope we have a lot of road left to walk together, my husband and I. And when that last day comes, I’m sure he’ll be there to hold my hand and help me over that final hurdle, because that’s the kind of man he is – my own personal guardian angel. I guess I’m one lucky girl, right?