Eight years ago today, I walked into a squat courthouse in Key West, Fla., with a beautiful young woman holding my hand. For $123, we were legally married in the state of Florida, including a brief ceremony by a deputy court clerk.
This was after a 10-month courtship that was mostly online but also included several in-person visits via expensive airline flights — as my wife finished her final year of her master’s program at NYU and I finished my final year of adolescence (yes, in my early 30s).
Nothing has happened in the past eight years to make me love her less. With each day that passes, I appreciate her more, respect her more, and am more impressed by her achievements and drive.
As might have been expected, the first year was the most difficult — especially for my wife. She was new to the Midwest/Mid-south/Southwest/Great Plains/South (Oklahoma is claimed by all those regions), new to small-town life, new to the car culture, and so many other things. All I’d added was a wife.
Dec. 1, 2006
My wife clears snow from her 1991 Buick Park Avenue
(Copyright © 2006 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)
She had to learn to drive, to understand the quaint accents and broken English that abound in Oklahoma, to shop in block-sized supermarkets, and to put up with me. I will assume that the last was the most difficult. She also had to put up with small-town life, which was exceedingly difficult for a lifelong resident of New York City.
Nov. 4, 2007
My wife in the mountains of southeast Oklahoma
(Copyright © 2007 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)
More than once, I bluffed that I would move “back home” with her if she couldn’t take it anymore. She never called my bluff, each time deciding to stick it out. When the right job came open for her, we moved to Killeen, Texas, in 2009, and it’s been great for us.
Aug. 29, 2009
My wife with her Buick and our U-Haul truck, just after crossing the state line
(Copyright © 2009 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)
Each stressful time we lived through — and there were plenty — made our marriage stronger and cemented us as a team.
I’ve watched her change from a bright-eyed college grad into a full-blown career-having mother of two, and she’s watched me change from a lackadaisical bachelor and small-town reporter into a middle-aged stay-at-home dad. She’s been the best mother I could imagine for our children, and without her I don’t know if I would have survived the 26 days our daughter was in NICU.
Oct. 22, 2010
My wife and our first child, at the NICU in Temple, Texas
(Copyright © 2010 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)
As for our second child, my wife drove herself to the hospital to have him, and never complained about anything.
Aug. 8, 2013
My wife and our son
(Copyright © 2013 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)
Today, she’s still not as old as I was when we got married. :-)
I never have to remind myself that much of my life’s goodness is due to her. Our standard of living is very comfortable because of her efforts, our children are healthy and clean and safe, and I’m never more than a few minutes away from an intelligent answer to any question I might have.
Perhaps her greatest feat is tolerating me for eight years.
May 11, 2014
On our front porch
(Copyright © 2014 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)
My darling, I love you, and I always will.
(The last line is from this song.)