Eileen started back to school and has gotten off to a good start. She is now in her 8th year of teaching in what began as a quest to finish her degree and try her hand at teaching. Now, it has become a career for her and an insurance life-saver for us. Frankly, we need her insurance to pay my $72,000 a year chemo bill. My old insurance was much costlier and the coverage was much less. We would have been at a loss to come up with such an insurmountable amount for my chemo each year. So, we are very blessed the way it has worked out: Eileen went back to school, likes teaching and the education field, and has good insurance coverage. Even so, I always go through withdrawal when Eileen starts back to school; I miss her.
I met Eileen when we both were in high school. In such a small town, perhaps it was inevitable that we’d meet. I played baseball with one of her older brothers and one of her older sisters worked for my father. If you remember, Eileen is one of ten children. So, I guess it was natural to at least say hello to one another although I was a senior and she was a sophomore when we met during our lunch hour. We enjoyed our interactions with each other. Eileen was known as a smart and fun loving girl who had very strong Christian values and morals. Eventually, I got to know her better and asked her on a date.
Our first date was to a skating rink chaperoned by one of Eileen’s older brothers. I was more than a little nervous when it was “couples” turn to skate and we joined hands. Although I had dated many other girls, I had never felt the way I did when Eileen and I joined hands. I immediately knew my heart was at risk of being captured. Two wholesome hearts were about to begin a journey together. After my years of pre-professional college and then into chiropractic college, we got married. Eileen moved to Chicago with me and got a job at the campus clinic as the secretary to the chief of staff.
After graduation from chiropractic college, we moved to Arkansas to begin a six month associateship with my uncle. We then moved back to our hometown to be an associate with my father. Within a little a year or so, my parents sold us the practice and moved to Arizona because of my father’s health.
By then we had been married five years and had a two-year-old child and one on the way. I became swamped in the practice and inundated myself with civic and professional affiliations. Over time, not only was I operating a very busy chiropractic practice but I was the president of the school board, president of the Rotary Club, and president of the southern district of the Illinois Chiropractic Society. In addition, I was the chairman of the Illinois Chiropractic Ethics Committee. That left me with just enough time to play with the kids and wave to Eileen.
I would have to say that I was so busy that I put little thought into Eileen and my relationship. I presumed it would just run on automatic. It didn’t. Although Eileen was gentle in discussing all the energy I was expending toward everyone and everything else, at her expense, she let me know that I was running amok. I couldn’t see it so I kept pushing the envelope as hard as I could.
I suppose that I came to my senses sometime after I crushed my right wrist. All that I was and all that I thought I was doing for God, humanity, and family came crashing down. Unable to physically perform my profession, life lost a lot of meaning. I eventually took the time and made the effort to inventory who I was and what I was doing. Once I got past how self-centered and off kilter I had been, the only thing that mattered to me was Eileen and the kids. I thus began a quest which I had previously become too busy and too side-tracked to fulfill: Seek to become the husband and father that God called me to be.
I learned that love was not something to be put on an automatic setting and left there. Love is to be nourished and nurtured or the world will tear it apart. I realized that being a father wasn’t just playing with the kids and making sure there was a roof overhead and bread on the table. It meant standing for righteous ideals and seeking to equip them for their adult lives. Our kids needed me to stand for “right” and to always shine its light on their path, regardless of anything else competing for my time and energy.
As for Eileen, I once again focused on the woman who captivated my heart all those years before. She had stuck with me through thick and thin and welcomed my awakening, even though it was the result of a career ending injury. In that regard, I thank God for the crushed wrist. Without it, there’s no telling where my path full of self-importance might have taken me. It’s very likely that I would have never been the father or husband that I have had the opportunity to be.
Eileen is an integral part of me. There is no one I’d rather spend time with or just hang around. Perhaps you would have to know her to understand what I describe as the sweetness of her spirit. The richness of her love is as close to angelic as I have ever known. Her words and touch calm any turbulence in my life. As I seek to love her more each day, I am amazed at how close we’ve become and the amount of love that she stirs within me. Two spirits truly can become as one.
I often suggest to others that they seek to see how close they can really become to their spouse. See how much in love they can truly become. It requires that hard feelings be released, forgiveness be administered, and resentment be abolished. However, we can grow closer to our spouse as the years march on or we can just grow older. The choice is ours and time keeps marching on. Anyway, whereas my current depth and maturity of love has been a learned attribute, Eileen has always been a profound well of love. It’s as if all our married life she has continually invited me to share in the deeper love that she naturally possesses. Eileen, as a person and as a spirit, simply amazes me; I’ve never met anyone like her. As my spouse, she enchants my inner being. If there is any good in all that I am or all that I will ever be, I owe it to God and Eileen.
Today marks Eileen and my 32nd wedding anniversary. I have been blessed beyond measure to be married to her. I am duly humbled and immensely thankful for this blessing.