Here comes the sun...and this day is a beauty. When I arrive a small family of a dad, mom, and their baby daughter are having a picnic on a blanket by the pond. I smile, but don't want to disturb their privacy. The father has work clothes on but has removed his jacket. The mom is reading a book. She wears jeans. It looks as if they've already eaten and the dad is throwing his baby girl up in the air.
"She pukes all over you, it'll be so not fun," the mom says and he changes things up. Now, his little daughter rides on his shoulders, clasping his hair in her chubby hands. The mom takes several photos with her phone.
"I'm gonna take her once around the pond and then I need to get back," he tells her. She beams.
"Thanks! I'll pack this up," she tells him. She rapidly packs up and goes back to her book. I smile to myself. How funny. Moms are seldom thanked for caring for their own offspring, but dads usually are.
While the man and his daughter skip away (and yes, he is skipping and it's adorable, although I hope that the baby doesn't throw up), several fishermen and women show up. Serious ones with tackle boxes and extremely obedient dogs. They get right to it and are fairly successful, although instead of fish, a couple of times frogs are caught.
"Anyone care for frog's legs?" a guy jovially asks. When there are no takers, he tosses the frog back into the water.
"I think it's a goner," a woman next to him says. "It's not moving." She's older and dressed completely in gray to match her hair.
But, no. After a bit, they all note that the frog is moving again. "There he goes!" says one. "Oh, good. He's ok," says another.
The father and daughter come back into view and we are all smiling. It's hard not to smile at his obvious besottedness with his little girl. He swoops her off of his shoulders and cradles her against his chest, planting unabashed kisses all over her little face. The mom meets up with him, carrying his jacket and a backpack. They hurry off.
A man pulls up in an old beat up truck. When he jumps out of it, I do a double take. He's a dead ringer for Daryl Dixon. He ignores all of us and race walks around the pond, pumping his arms with vigor. Exerciser, I think. It's easy to tell the difference between loafers like me, walkers because they love it, and then the Daryls: the ones who are on an exercise regimen. The happy walkers meander. The regimented ones look more purposeful.
I sit and feel my spine and neck relax. A stressful morning kind of took a toll on me but T came home for lunch and lovingly massaged my shoulders and quietly listened until all of my frets were out.
This is a perk of marriage/commitment that no one really talks enough about. The fact that there is someone else who always has your back. Friends have your back. Family has your back, too. But a spouse is different. They've your back in a way that no one else ever will. A spouse sees ALL sides of you. The small, mean spirited parts inside that we hide. The weak whiner that is in everyone but rarely shown. They also know your every victory and loss in an up close and personal way that no one else will ever know.
Put a blindfold on me and give me one hundred hands to hold. I can tell you which one is T's hand and she with me. She knows the sound my voice makes when I am even just a little sad, mad, happy, annoyed, elated, unsure, amused, disgusted....you name it. And I know her timbre. She knows that I can act like I am having fun but really just want to go home. Just by a minute expression. She knows the exact humor that makes me explode in laughter and another kind that makes me smile behind my hand.
She knows, sees all and experiences me in a way that no one else does and to my bewildered pleasure, says that there is nowhere else she'd rather be. I feel the same with her. I know her like the back of my hand, warts and all and yet I will choose her every time.
We've weathered marital itches, cancer, job losses and findings, deaths, births, and everyday monotony and we're both still here. We choose each other over and over and over again.
I look down at my left hand. My amethyst ring, a 40th birthday gift. My aquamarine wedding ring. Neither has great value, except to me. T bought both because she knew that I loved gemstones, especially soft blue aquamarines. When she presented it to me, she said, "I read that aquamarines are gems of the mermaids and I thought that fit you." Mermaid has been her pet name for me for decades even though I am nothing like those beautiful enchanting creatures with long flowing hair and a love/need for the sea. I love it because it is heavy with meaning.
Her wedding ring is a simple band with the words "yours" and "mine" written on the inside. Another common saying with us. "I am yours and you are mine." Or sometimes...."I am yours and you're stuck with me." Simple enough. But heavy with intent.
I am yours. You are mine. Just words. Us.