A couple of years ago I included a Heinlein quote in a post and a reader joked that she would like to see me write a sonnet. OK. I’ll give it a whack. But first let me tell you why I would write a lame sonnet and actually publish it on my farm blog. Because farming is hard. And I would rather have Julie than land. Better or worse, till death…my real mortgage is to Julie. I can easily get out from under my farm debt without dying. I probably wouldn’t even have to put up a sign. The reader should know that this post was originally written some months ago. Julie asked me not to publish it at that time as the wounds were still fresh. Our Seventeenth anniversary is tomorrow so I thought I would sneak this in today.
Maybe this has taken me more than 6,200 days to learn. Maybe I am just relearning this lesson over and over. I don’t know. But I’m writing it down today. Julie is my team mate. There are times she will take me for granted or forget to be courteous to me. There may be days she just doesn’t have time for me. But we are a team. We are united by a common goal…a vision. Not division. One, not two.
We have had some long days. Long. Days. Early starts, bit of housework till the sun rises, pack eggs if time allows, get bug bites while opening nest boxes and doing morning chores, then run in for a quick shower and change and it’s off to the office. Sometimes the office really takes it out of me. But it doesn’t matter to the animals. There is work to do when I get home. So I change into farm clothes and go out to build fence or cut wood or whatever chore is seasonally appropriate, coming in only when the sunlight fails. Sometimes there is no supper left for me. Sometimes there is a stack of dishes in the sink and a stack of books on the couch and Legos on the floor. I don’t know why but sometimes…on certain days…in certain moods I take the mess in the house personally. As if Julie is saying, “I know you don’t like this. I don’t want you here” when she’s really saying, “Holy Crap! I’m busy too!”
But the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. He wants us to feel isolated and alone. To be separated from our emotional support. Away from the immediacy of emotion I realize it would be so easy to just change my perspective slightly…to realize that I do half of the housework and I’ve been too busy to do it…so my half hasn’t gotten done. She has been too busy to pick up my slack. It’s not’s that she has been goofing off on Facebook and eating M&Ms. She has been working on the computer, occasionally checking Facebook and eating M&Ms. That’s totally different. (lol)
But let’s say she takes a week off, refuses to water the cows and demands to sell the farm. Then what? Do I buy her a little place in town and split the sheets? Do I keep her in her little house in town and visit her on Sundays? Nope. If she says “sell” we sell. If she says “move” we move. I love her. I choose her. For better or for worse. In sickness and in health. In farm or in town. Till death do we part.
She married a boy hoping I would someday become a man. I married a girl seeing the woman she would become. For 6,208 days we have changed each other and changed together. Sometimes I
resist resent the change…and she does too. Marriage in real life looks nothing like I remember reading in the brochure. (Our old pastor was pretty honest with us about marriage emphasizing our need for continuing and balanced spiritual, emotional and physical development. Physical ran way out in front for a long time. 4 kids…)
I have painted a pretty bleak picture here…but there are bleak seasons. Julie and I are emerging from one right now and that’s just part of the deal. Our pastor says we are always in one of three states: Entering a storm, enduring a storm or emerging from a storm. I think that lines up with the idea of a refiner’s fire or a pottery wheel. I am still being made. Still being refined. Still becoming. And sometimes it really hurts.
But look at what we have become. Just stop for a second and look Julie! Holy cow. We still have the whole rest of the mountain to climb but let’s just pause for a second. Wow. Look how far we have gone. There were ups and downs. The views are great from the high points but the fruit is grown in the valleys. I know we have a long way to go but in just 6,208 days we have gotten here! I love you! Thank you for growing with me. I would not be here without you and I can’t go on alone. I need you and I mean specifically YOU. I meant it when I said “Better or worse”. The worse has been pretty bad but the better is pretty awesome. The season is changing. Due season is arriving! I love you. All that other stuff…it is behind us. We are here now. No baggage. This is us. We are here. We choose to go there. Together.
So I wrote 12 lines outlining the problem and two lines of resolution in iambic pentameter choosing the Shakespearean style. I mean, that’s obviously what people do, right? This both summarizes the issue and knocks something off of my to-do list. When it doubt, speak like Yoda you must.
I stood before the Lord and said my vow.
Since childhood through ups and downs we share.
But Heaven open up and hear me now,
For worse has got the better of my care.
Where is the joy, the love or passion’s cure?
Naive was I to think we could succeed?
My younger self believed to be so sure.
Today I stand perplexed on what you need.
Misunderstanding. Time alone. Regret.
Days spent nursing a hurt or simple slight.
Neglected. Love from times we soon forget.
Why won’t the other person make it right?
Today I choose to love my wife once more
As also she my failures must ignore.
OK. Let’s see how we measure up to ol’ Heinlein’s list today.
- change a diaper – No problem.
- plan an invasion – an invasion? Of what? Of local markets with fresh farm products? Check.
- butcher a hog – Give me a break.
- conn a ship – Do what?
- design a building – Let’s design and build a house.
- write a sonnet – Maybe not a good one but…Check.
- balance accounts – Check.
- build a wall – Check.
- set a bone – Check. (Did it. My own broken arm.)
- comfort the dying – Check.
- take orders – Check.
- give orders – Check.
- cooperate – Check.
- act alone – Check.
- solve equations – Check.
- analyze a new problem – Check.
- pitch manure – Check.
- program a computer – Check.
- cook a tasty meal – Check.
- fight efficiently – I guess so. Not much of a fighter but I understand the mechanics and am in reasonable condition.
- die gallantly – Not really interested in dying. Hope it goes well.