For my Lorri on Mothers Day

I’ve never written about my wife.  I’ve never published anything on the web, or even privately about Lorri.  I don’t know why that is.  We are like lots of other couples. We were married young, had children young, grew apart early and then found each other again as our children were moving out on their own.  There are many things I regret in our relationship.  Nothing really horrible, mostly it was due to my “not being there,” not in a physical sense, but in a detached, self-absorbed way.  I don’t think I became a fully formed, fully aware adult until I was about 40, much to the detriment of my wife. At some point a more caring adult emerged and I thank God she didn’t just toss me in the dumpster years ago.

But this post is about Lorri, not about me.  You see I love her more than I could ever express in this blog entry.  I think of her constantly, much as I did when we were young and in love.  In love.  I can honestly say I am still in love with my wife.  Not in the fiery lust-driven furnace of age 23 when we met, though those embers still smolder, but in a knowing, understanding way that emerges when we talk about the boys, the dogs, our jobs, our future, our dreams and desires. If the fires of youth began with a sexual conflagration, they burn no less fiercely in the altar of consistency and commitment of middle age. Lorri is my therapist, my editor, my friend.  She’s the first to look at my painted miniatures.  She’ll listen to why I’m angry at the Mariners, and why I need those miniatures, that book or these record albums.  Lorri loves Paul McCartney and Billy Joel; Newport, Rhode Island, three Australian shepherds that live at our house, Patrick and Casey, Cheetos and best of all me.  I am a lucky man.

We are not young anymore.  But the little things that drew me to my wife are still there.  Lorri is a remarkably caring and compassionate person,much more than I am. She is quick to see the good in others and forgive them their faults.  I am much quicker to anger. If you piss me off and I don’t know you well, it’s over. Lorri is always there for those she can help, even if she isn’t quite sure how, she’ll be there for them. Whether it is a friend, or a family member, or a colleague at work she’s got your back.

One other thing you should know about Lorri and me is we’re both oldest children.  One of the chief characteristics of oldest children is they want to be in charge.  They’re used to leadership roles, so they like to be the boss.  They definitely should not be married to each other.  Somehow we manage to finesse this little problem.  Usually. When we had Patrick, of course, we had three oldest children in the house.  When he was little he would tell us “You are not the Boss of me.”  We have those moments when we both find ourselves saying that to one another. But that Lorri Smyth, she is clever.  Most of the time she lets me think I’m the boss, except about anything important, and then she reminds me that I am not the Boss of her, and that really, when it counts, she is the Boss of me.  Did I say that?  Is my face red?  (Note:  yes I have capitalized the word boss.  In our house, Boss is definitely a proper noun.)

It is unfair the last decade has not been kind to my wife.  She deserves better.  Lorri lost her sister to sucide, then her dad.  She’s battled through knee trouble and depression.  Two years ago she was diagnosed with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. Last year she developed an infection that severely damaged her vision in one eye.  Throughout all of it she’s remained positive and willing to undertake whatever it took to overcome these issues.  Sometimes the solutions aren’t easy.  She’s been through two knee surgeries, tried a host of medications until she got it right, and is on her second decade of therapy. A lesser person, like me, for instance, might have just said screw it, plopped right down and said enough, I’m perfectly content to be the victim here.  But my wife isn’t that way.  She doesn’t seem like it, but she’s tough as nails and the most stubborn person I’ve ever met.  I like to think I’m obstinate, but she’s got me beat every day but Sunday.  Okay, Sunday too.

Two weeks ago, Lorri had one more indignity heaped on her.  Her career as a benefits analyst at Weyerhaeuser ended after 16 years.  She wrote, she did compliance work in Employee Benefits, she fairly represented the concerns of corporation and clients in appeals. She worked her ass off.  In their wisdom, the fools in EB decided it was no longer a good fit between Lorri’s expertise and their requirements and let her go.  This wasn’t a surprise.  We’ve seen it coming, and yesterday was the end, her last day.  Needless to say, there’s been lots of tears, lots of hard days.  But Lorri stuck it out to the end like the professional she is.  I, of course, would have plotted car bombings and assassination attempts, but this is another example of how Lorri is a generally better person than I am, (and why for things that really matter, it’s best that she’s Boss.)

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  By a twist of fate, yesterday was Lorri’s last day at Weyerhaeuser, and on the same day Patrick was laid off at his job.  The three of us will spend the afternoon together tomorrow.  Though I am not thrilled Lorri is now a negative labor statistic, we’ve talked about it for hours, and we’ll likely talk about it for hours more,  and I hope she can take the next month to relax and get her head in a great place.  I’m certain her next job adventure will be a better, more fulfilling one.  We’ve been able to get past the tears a bit, and while we know the road ahead may have challenges, it also has possibilities.

So for my baby, on Mothers Day, I want the world to know you are the best, and I love you.  I’m sure Mothers Day 2013 will be the best yet.

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