Happy birthday sweetheart

George Brown
By George Brown

Yvonne’s birthday is this week. I pinch myself every time something happens to remind me she has been my sweetheart since the first time I laid eyes on her when we were only 16. Never mind that I was not her sweetheart until a couple of years later.

What can I say? I’m one lucky guy. But I’m not taking anything for granted. I have to confess sometimes I lay awake at night wondering if the day may come when Yvonne will grow weary of it all and give up on me.

A comment made by a friend the other day touched the nerve of my fears. “George, I’ve often wondered how Yvonne has put up with you for so long. She must be one hell of a woman.”

Yes, that is exactly what my friend said. This comment was prompted by my mentioning that I hope spring comes soon because Yvonne said she is getting tired of carrying firewood and stacking it on the back porch.

Maybe this friend has a point. After all these years Yvonne still has reservations about the permanency of our relationship, and she regularly reminds me that it is subject to change at any time. I’m not sure why but I think it has something to do with my well-intended but sometimes (according to Yvonne) misguided attempts at helping her be more organized, such as an instructive but innocent comment I once made about a better way to load the dishwasher.

In hindsight maybe I shouldn’t have made that comment about how to load the dishwasher, but it seems like every good idea I have misses the mark. You may recall the short series of columns I wrote a little over a year ago, right after I retired, about trying to be helpful by sorting and organizing all of the food items in the kitchen cabinets.

While Yvonne was gone one afternoon I took everything out of the cabinets, then put it back in alphabetical order by product type – black beans, green beans, kidney beans; chicken noodle soup, mushroom soup, tomato soup; fruit cocktail, peaches, pears; angel hair spaghetti, bowtie spaghetti, whole wheat spaghetti, and so on. I also rearranged the refrigerator and freezer shelves so everything was easier to find. I even placed her tea bags and sweetener on a different cabinet shelf to be more convenient.

And what thanks did I get? Instead of, “Oh Sweetie, thank you,” I was soundly chastised for meddling in her kitchen and exiled to our little travel trailer in the backyard for two weeks – in the dead of winter I might add.

To be fair, and as you may recall, I wrote a column about how Yvonne finally took pity on me when the trailer became encased in ice, and in a merciful act of kindness (which I took as unspoken forgiveness) chipped the ice away and let me return to the house. Come to think of it that was one year ago this week, just before her birthday.

Yvonne has been a good sport about letting me share stories like this with you, even though I sometimes poignantly describe the riotous temper she displays – the good intention of my deeds notwithstanding.

In the interest of marital harmony, I now make it a practice to have Yvonne read any column that mentions her before I send it to the paper. I even give her the right to edit what I have written. I’m pleased to say this has been working well. Yvonne occasionally changes a word or two to soften a quarrelsome characterization of her, and only once has she rejected a column outright as not suitable for publication.

This rejection occurred a few weeks ago when I drafted a column that I thought was a beautiful tribute to Yvonne for her birthday and a wonderful testimony to our relationship as sweethearts for these many years. The title of the column was, “Fifty Shades of Brown.”

It wasn’t the title of the column that bothered Yvonne so much as her concern that people would believe its content. I pointed out that the storyline included a backpack, which is always a clue that the story may not be entirely factual, but she would have none of it. She said that even though some of my stories seem a little preposterous people still believe them. I guess I can’t really blame her. After all, it is true that I rarely stray far from the truth in sharing stories with you – perhaps only occasionally adding a bit of color so as not to be boring.

Unfortunately, “Fifty Shades of Brown” will remain in my tickler file of column ideas for now, but at least I can hold it in my heart as a reminder of what a lucky guy I am. I’ve learned to count my blessings and to take life one day at a time. I’m just thankful Yvonne is still my sweetheart, and I’m going to stick around for as long as she will have me.

George Brown is a freelance writer. He lives in Jackson Township.