Since Valentine's Day is coming up, yes I've been thinking about my wife but I've also been thinking about others who mean a great deal to me in one way or another.
I can't help but wonder if they know how much they mean to me? I'm willing to bet that some have no real idea about how much they have meant to my life.
I’ve been thinking about my Mom, and how like most sons I hope I’ve been a good son. She had six of us kids and headaches by the truckload. Lesser women would have taken to drinking or something else. Mom is tougher than she might seem. She is what she's always been, our family guardian making sure the family stays together and as close to harmonious as can be.
She cares about every one of her kids, and her grandkids, and her great-grandkids, and her friends. She’s always been that way, probably no different than your Mom.
What's nice for me these days is seeing her enjoy life. Fact is that she hasn't always had the pleasure of enjoying life. She worked so hard and she deprived herself in so many ways for her family. Now she's at a point in her life where she is enjoying friends and keeping active. She has her family, but she also has a wonderful crew of friends. They do so much together. They play cards and go to dinner, lunches, movies, plays and of course shopping. They even make their Doctor’s appointment a day to have fun.
I'm just hoping that the small town of Ione can handle her and her friends. Red Hats and all! And if you've never heard of Red Hats, they are a group not to mess with. Those ladies have fun and they are proud of it!
In fact the story of her and her lady friends invading Tilly's Bar in their town is now legendary. It is. Yes, all of them including 84 year old Angie actually decided to go see what it looked like inside of the only bar in their town. And why you ask, well just because they were curious what it looked like inside. Then they decided to stay for a drink. Imagine that!
And yes, the one person who means more to me than anything in my life is my wife. Deanna is more special than she knows because she cares openly and does not feel insecure about her likes and dislikes. She is who she is. She is warm and loving and so sentimental that she'll shed tears during a movie without warning. But I've learned that though she is sensitive, she is tough as women come.
Fact is she can be ornery like her Dad, yet she's also strong and feisty like her Mom. And that my friends is a wonderful combination to find, she keeps me on my toes.
She has opened a new world of happiness for me. And I try almost every day to show how much she means to me. A hug here, a dance in the kitchen, a laugh, and of course there are those winks. Whether it's as my faithful trusted Elf while I play Santa for the kids, or just running down the road, she will look at me and just give me a wink. And I get it, yes she cares.
I love hearing about her adventures with her groups of friends. I was worried at first thinking that she’d be bored living in the country. Then she started taking Line Dancing, and gardening and cooking classes. She joined a Newcomers group and she worked as one of its officers. That was four years ago and now the group wants her as their President. It is nice to see her glow with happiness. It is a comfort knowing that I am providing for her and she’s OK with what we have. Nothing extravagant, but we get by OK.
I feel great about how close I am with her parents. My wife's parents are wonderful folks and we do a lot together. It’s great to do things together, after all family is important. My wife’s Mom is an extremely special woman. Since meeting her, I have had a whole new appreciation for independent women who have had to tough it out working as hard as she has. She has worked hard in her life and has always been a Care Giver. She is a great gal, and many young women especially those in her life would do well to learn from her extremely caring and loving ways. Like most great Moms she holds things close to her heart. And God knows she’s protective of her family, and it’s wonderful to see.
When I first met her, she was amazed that someone could be so full of beans and joke and carry on the way I do. Now she sort of expects it, and if I'm quiet she starts to worry. Dinner at her table is always a great pleasure. Whether it’s the wonderful food she prepares or my father-in-law pushing the envelope of her patience, it’s always great.
Besides my wife, my father-in-law is my closest friend. He is a perfectionist, meticulous in his trade, and extremely knowledgeable of mechanics and engineering processes. He has his own shop which is a wonder in itself. Everything is just so. It is neat and practical. His shop has been his living for more than 20 years, and yes he keeps it productive and useful for both his trade and his hobbies which includes working on firearms for sport shooting.
Over the years, he has trained himself to work on and repair and even modify guns and the equipment that goes with them. He is an artist when it comes to woodwork so his rifle and shotgun stocks look incredible. And of course he’s a perfectionist in every detail, whether it’s sighting in a scope or fabricating a part when one is not available. To him there is a challenge in the words, “I’m sorry, but they don’t make that part anymore.” He’ll make it himself, and he’ll probably make it better than the original manufacturer made it.
When I first met him, I knew we would hit it off OK. His humor is quirky and sometimes over the top of people's heads, but not me because I like him. And yes, there are days around here that I just miss his jokes and especially watching him laugh himself into tears.
Behind my father-in-law's hard shell is something that was hidden for years until we met. That something is an Elf named Bernard. Yes, my tough as nails father-in-law now has actually put together his own costume to be my main Elf when I play Santa for the kids during the Christmas season. Imagine that!
Though life has kept me busy and away from Hawaii for years on end, my Uncle Herbert and Aunty Betty are two people who have been special to me for my entire life.
Last October, my wife and I along with my mom decided to go home to Hawaii for a visit. Yes, it is an wonderful feeling to have my Mom still active at age Seventy-six!
Oahu is where my family is from and since my Mom and I wanted to take a trip to go down memory lane, I figured it would be an excellent trip for my wife to see the island that we're from. Hopefully she'd see it through our eyes and have the same feeling for it as we do. I've always felt that no matter where people live, they are always a part of where they are from. The way we look at life is imprinted in us early in life.
One of our priorities on the trip home was to see a couple of relatives. There were just two who I wanted to go see. The only ones that I wanted to see was my Aunt Betty and my Uncle Herbert.
As far back as I can remember, I have loved them and just thinking about them has always brought great memories. When I was a kid, they along with my cousins were always the nicest and most fun. Later my life had a way of taking me away from being able to see them. And yes, I especially missed listening to my Uncle's jokes and stories. But the fact is that my not seeing them never stopped me from thinking about them.
I had only gotten to see them just a handful of times over the years so when we went home last year for a visit, well we knew we had to see them. I knew how my Mom always missed them and how my wife would enjoy getting to know them. And no, I wasn’t wrong.
Both have not changed, and yes my Uncle is still the greatest. His sense of humor brightens the room and the sound of everyone laughing at his jokes can be heard before walking in the door.
He is a wonderful man.
Before we left to come back from our visit, Uncle Herbert and Aunty Betty got the whole family together and we sat around and ate and laughed and enjoyed our family reconnecting again. There are no words to describe the feeling of connecting up with family again. Especially them, you see they love life and when you're around them it is contagious.
Now as for my Aunty Betty, her life is her family. And so having all of them there with us, well you could see how much she enjoyed the time we spent together. She has always been so loving. She sees only the best in people. She’s as beautiful as I’ve always remembered her.
It’s funny when I think of it. Uncle Herbert and I have so much in common. We were both in the military, we were both in similar trades, and we both love to joke around and enjoy people we meet. He is still that man who I’ve always admired. While visiting he said to me that he’s getting old, but in my mind he’s like an old lion. He has seen his share of battles, and maybe at times he tires, but he has always provided for his family no matter what.
One of the nicest things ever said to me was when Uncle Herbert said to me, "Tommy, if we lived closer, boy would we have fun!"
He said that to me as we were leaving and I had to choke back tears as I thought, I couldn't agree more! He might not have known it but he has always meant a great deal to me. Maybe it was because of how I saw him as a kid? Probably. I guess it just goes to prove what impact we have on people even if we might not know it. And yes, it's nice to see he hasn't changed.
Like others in my life, he is in my heart. If he didn't know it, well I hope he knows it now.
Valentine’s Day is supposed to be that way. It’s meant to be a day when those you love and hold dear find out you care.
So right now, I hope you all know how much you mean to me. With love, Happy Valentine’s Day!
And especially to my beautiful wife, I love you!