50 Notes of Loving Gratitude
1. We spend most of our lives worried about stuff. What we could lose. What we are unable to attain. We worry about things we’ve already lost, so we worry about losing more things. We fear never getting back what we’ve lost.
I guess I’m resigned to not being able to go back in time and avoid losses of the past. Water under the bridge. It’s a fallen world and unlike The Umbrella Academy or Back To The Future, like it or not, all I have is the now and the future, however it unfolds. I can’t worry about what is past because whatever is there is permanently fixed into history’s landscape.
But gratitude can dwell in the past, the present and future. I’m grateful for you. My love for you is one of the unfathomable mysteries of my life. It is stunningly impossible to plummet the depth of my love for you.
2. On one hand, our love is so constant that I should never worry about anything. This should hold for the present and the future. But being in our seventh decade and approaching our 50 years together, I worry about the future. I can’t bear to think of my own death which would leave you alone. I don’t want death to force either of us live without the companionship and intimacy we now share. I don’t want death to cause either of us to be left without companionship and meaning. I guess people say it this way: “I can’t live without you.”
3. Sheer magic happens around our house when I hear you singing some tune. I absolutely love to hear you singing anything. It could be humming or just singing a few measures of some tune in our past. They could be from commercials. Occasionally I hear some tunes from our days when we were members of the Buffalo “Friends of Folk.” Your voice raises my spirits and reminds me that I am blessed to be in your presence.
4. It is impossible to write about your beauty. Your intelligence. Your compassion for others. Your passion for life. You put all of yourself into whatever you do. There is more of you than can fit within human form.
5. You have guided many of our acquaintances in medical areas. You have always retained your nursing training and knowledge. Whether it has been over minor skateboard injuries or more serious physical conditions, you have been a steady and knowledgeable friend to a number of people who consult you about health issues. This is a tribute to your intelligence and compassion. I have been truly blessed to be married to you.
6. Each day of my existence, I start my day, grateful to be able to be with you another day.
7. I love the power of your mind. You do the daily New York Times Pangram and usually ace it. The puzzle challenges you by giving you seven, seemingly random letters, expecting you to come up with their word. While you can use their given letters multiple times and there is no limit to how long the target word is. You continually amaze me that you sort it out. For instance, the letters “zagonil” work out to “analogizing.” There are not an ample number of years available in human history for me to even guess.
8. Just sitting at my computer, you come up to me and say “Look out the window. There’s a hummer sitting there, watching us. It’s an Allen humming bird” you say with your wonderful memory of bird types and species.
9. Just walking around the neighborhood, you recognize hundreds of birds by their sound, behavior or colors.
10. I love how you treat others. You model total acceptance and a nurturing which encourages everyone to come to sense their own intrinsic worth. If more people were like you, the world would have considerably less conflicts.
11. I love how kind and cheerful you are to our grandchildren. You are building a castle of strength and beauty in their psyches.
12. You have done this, through the years, as we have raised Deidre. She and all of her relations have flourished because of your constant gardening of her soul’s growth. She has become who she is because of who you have been and are in her life.
13. You inspire me to be creative. We can’t afford to buy ink for our color printer so it sits abandoned in our closet. But creativity springs from conflict. I can’t afford to print this piece in color so I’ve put it up here on Medium. Here, colors abound.
14. When I stop and contemplate any of my accomplishments, you have always been the source and inspiration for what I’ve done. I have never achieved anything without you.
15. Your common sense and intelligence envelopes my life. There is nothing about the past, the present or the future that doesn’t benefit from your perspective.
16. If a magician could capture a portion of your essence and put it in a magic flask, it would be the elixir of pure love.
17. I am truly spoiled, living in relationship with you. Everything in my life, every part of who I am and what I feel, is truly blessed by your love.
18. Your patience, particularly with me, is truly humbling. I know I don’t deserve such treatment and you inspire me to try to grow as a person.
19. Rituals sometimes celebrate values and gratitude. In my morning physical therapy stretches, I always say a prayer of gratitude for life and for you. Throughout the night hours, I turn to look at you and thank God for you. During the day, even when I am distracted by the daily living tasks, I am mindful of how much I love you. I’m grateful for all that you are.
20. Every day I think God for many things. I always thank God for you. I thank God for life. I ask for wisdom for both of us and I ask for compassion for others. God knows how grateful I am for you.
21. I am thankful for your presence. You are my breath and joy. You remind me every day that the life I live is filled with beauty, intelligence and purpose. There isn’t anything or anyone I encounter in life that isn’t improved by my relationship with you. You make everything I experience better.
22. “Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” Dinah Maria Mulock Craik, back in the late 1800’s, must have been in a relationship with someone like you.
23. Even if we are silently reading and not doing anything, talking or moving about; there is no one whom I’d rather be with. If I could distill the power of my love for you, one drop of it could power multiple continents for centuries.
24. If I had the financial resources of Jeff Bezos, I’d still be hard pressed to buy an adequate gift for our 50th anniversary. There is nothing that could even abstractly symbolize how much I value you. Maybe if we could fly, I’d fly with you to see the Northern Lights. If we could be invisible and fly, perhaps we would fly with hummingbirds and take in their vibrant colors and wild speeding through life.
25. When I think through my years, how most of my life has been spent in pursuit of things I no longer desire, I marvel at God’s patience. That you stuck with me throughout all this striving, is nothing other than proof of the persistence and grace of the One Who made us all. Why me? Why would I have benefitted from these years of your presence? Who am I to have been blessed by your loving relationship?
26. There is nothing in life that I want to experience without you. I say that because you have brought wisdom, beauty and delight to everything I’ve ever experienced. You have brought life to any experience, idea or thing I’ve sought to produce. Your presence is pervasive in my life. You have permeated every aspect of the life I live. For that, I am eternally grateful.
27. I enjoy the purple jacaranda trees more, standing before them beside you.
28. I enjoy the smiles and the bright-eyed optimism of our grandsons even more when I experience them in your presence.
29. In all of my half-baked projects and forays into technical experimentation, my greatest delight is the possibility that my inventions might bring you some pleasure or convenience.
30. Admiration. Of all the people in the world, I want to be most like you when I grow up. The closer I can be to becoming like you, the closer I would come to being the best I could be with the life I’ve been given.
31. Throughout the fifteen years I was speaking and teaching as a clergy person, I should have simply pointed to you as the person others should emulate.
32. There is not enough talent, money and power in all the nations of the world that could adequately express how much I love you.
33. Infinity. That’s the depth of my love for you. How do you even symbolize that in the abstract?
34. But we all have to start somewhere. I’ll try pistachio ice cream. You’re like this sweet downfall of mine. I can’t resist it. Got to have it.
35. I’m pretty convinced that everything I’ve ever done and experienced in my life, every book I’ve read and video I’ve watched — has mystically pointed me to how central you are to my life’s meaning.
36. I wish I could distill each drop of my enjoyment of being married to you. If I could, I’d try to get a lab to break down the component parts so that others could learn the true nature of love.
37. Perhaps, someday, if you ever publish your diaries, people’s lives would be wonderfully changed from reading them.
38. OK, I do wish for some superpower. I would hope to be able to heal any anomaly or pain you have. Magic or some cosmic power. Whatever it would take, I’d love to remove even the slightest pain or discomfort you have.
39. Maybe we should adopt a llama. I think we’d both find the challenge and the fun of it worthwhile. But given our small living space and equally miniscule financial means, that idea is definitely on hold.
40. It astonishes me that I have been blessed to be with you for 50 years. It isn’t the number of years. It is the relationship that has taught me a clear sense of what is holy. When I used to officiate at weddings, one of the most moving of all the ceremonial experiences was seeing the faces on the marrying couple standing before me. The joy that radiated from both of their faces worked down into my soul. I could see their faces as they put the rings on one another’s trembling and nervous hands.
But that same sense that something joyful and holy is what I grasp when I think of my life with you.
41. When I think of our daughter and her husband and their children, it’s a blossoming of beauty and brilliance. It is almost science fiction — where some extraterrestrial creature majestically creates equally brilliant and beautiful creatures. I see the powerful beauty in them all.
42. There is a gentle breeze blowing today, making the palm trees slowly bend as its cool air makes this place even more pleasant. When I think of it, you are like that gentle breeze making any part of my life more pleasant and worth living.
43. You and I pick away at our chores for our health or just for keeping order to our now little lives. In it all, you make life worth living. The chores are nothing of note. The fact that we are together in our little enterprises has a meaning that transcends the ordinary. I think it is because of your presence that all of life, beyond the here and the now, seems fully alive and vibrant.
44. The cool thing about you is that you don’t have to try to do anything to be different than who you already are. “You’ve got it made” as being a fabulous human being.
45. We’re supposed to stay away from striving; from grasping for things about which we shouldn’t worry. For months, I’ve been worried about “doing” something significant to express my 50 years of gratitude for you. I guess I’ve been able to sidestep that less-than-Buddhist striving. But here I am in the middle of writing out 50 things about loving you. You can lead a llama to water, but you should only suggest drinking it as one of several options.
46. Why is it that I’m so grateful for you that I’m frequently near tears? Maybe the MS. But who says ‘near tears’ is not a legitimate form of joy. It is the joy you create that makes my life have meaning.
47. I love your competence. There is nothing you do that is less than excellent. Whether it is some little thing you do for the grandchildren or something complex you do for me. You excel at whatever task you undertake.
48. I love your companionship in my life. You make any experience better by just being who you are.
49. You are inspiring. Just being who you are makes me want to be better at whatever I undertake. You are the reason I live.
50. So here is the 50th thing, but it is by no means the last. It’s just that for as long as I have left to go on this journey with you, I will never run out of things I love about you. It is a symptom of the eternity of our love. I’ll continue to discover love for you in every passing moment.
Thank you for enriching my soul, my life and my spirit. For me, you are the fullest manifestation of the presence of our loving and all-powerful God.