What goes into stress but the demand to be loved? When I tell my sweetie, my beloved of 38 years, that I want to hear the words of love from her, and she responds, “What more do you want? I take you to every doctors’ appointment. I make sure you take every medication because I want you to live. I cook all your meals and I make, sure there is always food in the house. I clean the house, and I make sure you go to appointments with friends. I give you money to help with social events, and we go to some entertainment. You purchase what you want with your own money, and the rest help out with the bills thus, providing so security. What more do you want?” She retorts “Don’t be afraid of our spats because every couple has them!” I say I love you often, and she has never said but shows it in every way.
We have been together for more 38 years. Within two weeks, I knew I wanted to marry this loving and beautiful undergraduate. As it turned out she was highly gifted, and in 2012 I finally learned that she had been Valedictorian of her high school class in 1973. She’d come from a large family of one sister and four brothers. She had been the youngest always reading, always learning, her elementary schooling at a Catholic elementary, then Catholic middle school, off to public high school. Her father was an owner of a chicken hatchery selling chicks to local farmers from the small town of Howard, South Dakota. Her mother worked at the local bank and at the co-op as a bookkeeper. First, this gifted young woman attended the University of South Dakota, then Augustana College in Sioux Falls, finally the University of Iowa.
In 1981 she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and she graduated with Highest distinction with 4.0 GPA in cultural anthropology. She went on to earn MA degree in anthropology both degrees from the University of Iowa. Again she excelled in the world of work as a hospital clerk, and one of the editors of a newspaper. Then she completed an excellent federal government career for thirty-two years, and four months first with Social Security as a GS 10 claims representative. She worked her way from file clerk at the VA ending her career with double positions of Quality Control Officer and trainer with GS 12.8 rating and with numerous awards. I learned much about this woman as we aged together, and in 2012 I found about her literary abilities. She is now 63-years-old enjoying her passion for reading and playing games on her smartphone. I am 66-years-old and peruse photography and writing, also volunteering at the Sioux Falls senior center and for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I’ve volunteered for NAMI since 2007 and held numerous positions earning silver and gold Hall of Fame recognition In Our Own Voice. We have spent more than half our lives together, and we’ve lived in the same home for 25 years which we now own.
After attending East High In Des Moines Iowa, graduating in 1969, My mother and father had divorced when I was seven-years-old, so my three-year-old brother, my mother, and I moved from Ojai, California to Iowa. My mother worked as a grocery. As a “poor Kid” I qualified for a large college scholarship package, and though I was poor I had graduated from high school with an A- average, then went on to earn a BA in literature from Grinnell College in 1974. In 1971, and 1972 after touring Holland and northern Germany on a bicycle, I attended the Goethe Institute in Ebersberg, Germany earning one semester of college credit. I worked as a photo clerk, then traveled through Europe. I had also attended Sierra College, Rocklin, California where my father taught electronics and mathematics. However, in my graduating year of college, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, a diagnosis which was changed to bipolar disorder in 2011, and this diagnosis I understand in my life so much more than schizophrenia or the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder another diagnosis which was wrong and that I lived with much of my adult life I have lived, and I’ve lived entire life with the stigma of mental illness which has caused me severe problems in the working world and social limitations. Now I believe I’ve lived with courage never failing to inform others of my diseases. I went on to earn MA English, and Ed.S, higher education from the University of Iowa in 1980, and MFA creative writing from Colorado State University in 1990. I taught a total of 22 years at colleges and universities. I’ve also published numerous poems in little magazines and college journals during my graduate years, and up until 2007 when my health began to fail. However, I self-published two volumes of poetry, in 2009 Winter from Spring and Meditations on Gratitude 2014, both in college libraries including my old school Grinnell College. These books are available through Barns and Noble and as featured books at Amazon.
We live in the small town of Hartford, South Dakota. This is my sweetie’s home state, about nine miles from the largest city in South Dakota, Sioux Falls where we’ve raised a brilliant and beautiful girl who graduated from Middlebury College Suma Cum Laud and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She spent four years teaching in Japan, going on to earn the prestigious MFA literary translation with full-fellowship, runner-up in the Pen Award Asian Translation in London, going on to become a fellowship Ph.D. candidate in Japanese literature and comprehensive literature at the prestigious Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. So, you see two very poor kids grew up to be life-long best friends and middle-class academics. We were never supposed to make it especially because I have bipolar disorder and the devastating disease of Ankylosing Spondylitis. I have overcome drinking and smoking and found my Savior in the Lord Jesus Christ. There has been damage to my body, but my doctor says I could live well into my eighties. What a joy to be alive in 2018.
Shortly after I met my wife to be, I received my first teaching assignment with full responsibility for a college class. I was assigned a class in Rhetoric 101, an assignment, beginning spring semester 1980. This was s class for inexperienced college writers with speaking and college level reading assignments. This Rhetoric was with Reading, Writing, and speaking for skill building in the first year of college. In my first years and up until 2006 I received outstanding evaluations from students. Our lives together have been challenging, my dear wife remaining shy all her adult life, me gregarious and social. We love each other even into old age. We both trust we have found rewarding lives together. We have regrets. But, I believe every couple experiences downsides. My illnesses have been challenges we have had to develop coping skills around especially since I do not drive now. However, we have even had successful lives in our community through this might be a challenge sometimes. Computers help us make contacts we might never have, and all types of technology ground us in reality. My fife truly enjoys her smartphone, and for me, I enjoy Chromebooks and Windows computers. We both have contacts with the world, my wife also enjoying her book club, and me enjoying creative photography and my writing club. We have found solace in our own separate beliefs. Finally, I’ve found enjoyment in my new blogs. And always I love her.