If not mentioning that it was also his birthday isn't terrible enough, I also realized I've introduced myself, our six girls, and all five grandchildren (including the future sixth one), but haven't even mentioned my hubby's name! I know, I know---- What is wrong with me????
Well, Honey, I'm SO sorry! I sure didn't mean to leave you out. Never in a million years would I mean to do that! Hope I can make it up to you by giving you your own post about how special you are.
First, a little background for the readers:
I wish I could say we met in some romantic way and fell in love at first sight, but our story is a little different from most couples. Larry and I met almost 30 years ago, but our lives intertwined even before that. My mom, Larry's dad, and Larry all worked together at a paper mill, so my mom met him before I did. Just a few years after they started working together, and I was just a teenager, my family moved next door to his parents and sister. His sister, Tracey, and I were both in the same school and quickly became best friends. I met Larry, his wife, and their two baby girls when they were visiting at his mom's and I was hanging out with Tracey. I actually ended up being his backup babysitter when Tracey or his mom were unavailable. :) I moved to Mississippi and married within months of my high school graduation. Larry's oldest girls, then 6 and 4, gave out rice bags at my wedding. By then, he also had another baby girl. I had two little girls of my own. During my six year long marriage, Larry and his wife separated and shared custody of the children. A few years later, my marriage, shaky from day one, also came to an end. My girls and I moved in with my mom until I could get back on my feet and eventually make a new life as a single mom. Larry's family and I were still all friends, including our little girls, and our parents were still neighbors, so I guess it was inevitable that we would end up running into each other often. He had not remarried. Because he was my only divorced friend, he became my counselor, sounding board, and shoulder to cry on. One talk led to another talk, sitting outside by our parents' fence into the wee hours as mosquitoes feasted on us. One night I knew my feelings were evolving past friendship. I pictured us raising a family, growing old together, and rocking grandchildren on our front porch. Our first kiss happened a few evenings later. Nine months later we married and combined our little families into one rather large household. Two years later we had another little girl together and thus completed our family.
So that's the when, where, and how of our meeting and "growing" in love. Since Valentine's is just around the corner I thought now would be the perfect time to share the whys... so, here they are in no particular order.
Larry is a godly man. Before he received Christ as his Savior June 2003, he was already a man of honor and integrity. However, since surrendering his life to Christ he has become more aware of God's presence, more sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and now is a praying man and husband. I KNOW this has made a difference in our family and a world of difference in our marriage. And my dream of growing old together will never end. :)
Larry is self-sacrificing. He always puts our children and me, and now the grandchildren, before himself. He never neglected his obligation to support his first three children. He adopted my children, accepting full legal and financial responsibility. Not every man would let another off the hook, while he paid child support faithfully. Even fewer would not resent doing it. His sacrificing to provide for us went beyond him just making sure we had shelter and food. He doesn't hunt or fish like most guys in our area. His interests revolve around cars and motorcycles. He has a classic muscle car and a old Chevy truck that he would love to restore. They have been neglected and abandoned now for years, because our family's needs have always come before anything he's ever wanted. A year and a half ago, we bought a motorcycle because he's wanted one for years. That is the first and only recreational thing he has bought himself in 20 years and he felt guilty. If we can't afford to get something our daughter can drive to college next year, he is willing to give his bike up. See what I mean? self-sacrificing!
He is a hard worker and good provider. For the first five years of our marriage, he was the sole provider while I stayed home with our children. The second five years, he was still our sole provider and supported me while I went back to college and obtained a teaching degree. He worked at a local paper mill for 28 years, working his way up from the wood yard to a trainer in the shipping department, until they closed the mill doors in July 2003. Three weeks later, he got hired at another mill 70 miles away. He had to start completely over, except for his benefits and years of service. When I wanted to move closer and save him three hours a day of driving time he refused because our youngest is still in school. He works 3 or 4 12-hour days at a stretch (or nights, depending on the shift), so that drive makes a 15 hour day. He never complains about the drive or the hours. Another example, also, of the sacrifices he makes daily.
Larry is also generous with his things and his time--- always willing to help someone. He not only takes care of all our yard work, but also his mother's who lives alone. He also does all of our vehicle maintenance, his mom's, sister's, and anybody else that needs help. He once worked on my grandparents' vehicle for a couple of days. He's helped other family members move several times, friends haul things, etc. They don't even have to ask; if he knows they need help he automatically offers. In fact, he's driving three hours away tomorrow to pick up Sarah's car, leave her his car, and bring hers home to try to get it in decent running order.
His compassion blows me away. When my Mimi's health started to fail and talk of placing her in a nursing home drove me to tears on a daily basis, Larry offered to wall in our carport so she could move in with us. (My dad and his brothers decided that they were more comfortable with placing her in a facility, since I work and private sitters were beyond our means.) The mere idea that Larry was willing to take my grandmother in just to make me happy means more than I can put into words.
Last, but not least, his love for me and our children is steadfast. After his divorce, his ex-wife and his children moved 7 hours away. For the two years they lived there, Larry spent his one weekend off each month driving halfway and back on Fridays and then again on Sundays just to spend time with his children. Just months before we became a couple, they moved back to our town. I have never seen a dad get so excited about the opportunity to spend more time with his children. When I became pregnant with our child, I begged God for a little boy. I knew Larry, being the only son of an only son, really wanted a boy of his own. Alas, the sonogram showed yet another little girl. I was upset, but Larry said, "It doesn't matter. It's our baby and she'll still be special." Almost nine years later, our first granddaughter was born. That night while driving home from a long, exhilarating day, he wondered aloud how you could love someone so much that you'd never met. He was overwhelmed with the love he automatically felt for that baby.
I really could go on and on, but this is getting really long. I promise I won't shortchange him in the future. After this extremely long post, anyone who reads it to the end should have no doubts that I not only have a husband, he is deeply loved and appreciated. I need to make sure to let him know that more often.
This picture is a flash from the past. This was taken at the courthouse in Arkansas where we were married April 12, 1990.