One of the most difficult things to do in this life is to try to describe someone who means so much to you that you simply cannot imagine a day without them. They are close to your thoughts all waking moments. They are the first one you want to tell something new to. They are, in fact, an integral part of who you are.
That is my wife Joan. When I met her my life was adrift. I had no direction and no idea even how to find one. I'll never forget the first time I saw her. There was no thunder, no lightning, just a sense of someone very special passing by. It wasn't anything she said because the first time we met we didn't even exchange any words! It was just that certain feeling, a sixth sense if you will, that this person is not just an ordinary human being momentarily passing through your life.
Today is Joan's birthday! I wish her a happy birthday but that seems so inadequate because of what she has done for me and how much she has come to mean to me. We have seen each other through amazingly hard times, times of sadness and disappointment. We have been afraid together and faced an unknown future arm-in-arm, thus becoming stronger both as a couple and as individual human beings. We have celebrated the joys of family, welcoming into the world very special grandchildren. We have hoped, planned, and rejoiced as we look to a future life together for many years to come.
Joan will not like these accolades because she is one of the most humble people I have ever known. She has special qualities and talents that so many people do not know. She is a great cook. She loves to put together special meals for the two of us to share because it is one way of showing the love she has for me and I am humbled (and well-fed!). She has a compassion for the down-trodden and underdogs of the world that I do not think most people would ever know. Every time there is a sad story on the news about someone or some thing, Joan shakes her head in disbelief and utters an unheard prayer from her heart. There is a tenderness about her that is reflected in her love of plants. She tends to a garden like a devoted mother tends to her offspring. And they respond in kind by flourishing under her watchful eye.
Her pride unmistakeably shows when she talks about the two loves of her life, her sons Mike and Steve. She loves them with complete abandon and their love for her fuels her life. She tries to make each passing birthday special for them, never forgetting their big day. And in them you can see the qualities that had their origins in Joan. They are fine men and are very deserving of their mother's deep and lasting pride.
Most of all, I want to wish my dearest wife the happiest of birthdays. We will spend this day mostly apart because of the demands of the my job. But that does not mean that we will be apart from each other. I will be thinking of her all day knowing that I will return soon to the home she has made so comfortable and cozy to live in, but would never be the same without her. Life marches on as time inexorably passes. But there is great comfort for me in the thought that I will walk down the path of life with my best friend and wife at my side. May I always be worthy of her love and learn from her courage, compassion, and great capacity to embrace life. Happy Birthday Joan!