Thursday, October 21, 2010

If Today Was Not an Endless Highway

The first time I saw her, my wife, Sigrid, in a club in the Sachsenhausen district of Frankfurt am Main, she was wearing a Buffalo Sabres hockey jersey-a souvenir and remembrance of an earlier relationship. I never met 'him' and, not surprisingly, we've never talked about him, which is sort of funny since I wouldn't be here, in these circumstances, without him.

She was, and remains, the most beautiful woman I have ever known. Then, her hair was dark and came to the small of her back, which for a very long time has been one of my favorite places. Now, she wears it much shorter and frets when she finds a grey hair (I'm one of the reasons why she has them) and I say nothing but smile at the wonder of it all.

I was tongue-tied for months after first seeing her and when I finally did speak, I told her I loved her because that's the way I am, and the way it was. We were engaged at Easter of 1977, before about forty percent of the people currently on earth were even born and were married thirty-three years ago, today, in the Offenbach Rathaus at shortly after ten in the morning.

Chris, who became Moni's husband and then 'becca and David's dad, then a widower and who now lives in Texas was my best man. He was the person who discovered my 'translator' (I spoke little to no German at that time) had memorized the ceremony's language in English and that was the extent of her knowledge of my language. Zwei hundredt deutschmark im arsch, wie Ich mich erinnere...

Evelyn, at the time Rick's wife and still Kevin's mom, was maid/matron of honor and afterwards we all went to a small restaurant not that far from the Rathaus for a celebratory meal that Franz, who passed some years ago, Sigrid's dad, and Anni, her mom, organized. Some time later we visited, as a married couple, one of her aunts who doubted we would ever marry, noting 'after I have triplets!' (I looked at her husband and thought 'it must be magic married to this one'). I asked as best I could, 'wie gehts den die drillenge? how are the triplets?' (which earned me neither language skills nor style points; two trends that continue to this day).

Sigrid is the last person I think about before I close my eyes and the first after I open them. She is very much 'like breathing out and breathing in' for me and I can only wish you, at some time in your life, will find and have someone who makes everything you do, good and bad, worth the waking. We have two children, themselves now adults, but always our children-Patrick and Michelle-who have enriched our lives more than words of any language can ever capture.

I have little recollection of my life before our marriage. Admittedly, I'm better off that way. I do recall being mostly unlovable except when I was unbearable. It matters not to the woman who married me. Even after all the years, when she looks at me, I can do anything--a feeling no one else has ever inspired in me. That I have nothing I need do for her to love me is amazing in ways I cannot explain. I'm pretty sure, especially in the years since arriving in the New World, that (at times) this isn't the life she signed up for under 'for better or for worse' and I, too, keep waiting for better days even as they grow shorter.

It still seems to me like we married last week though, I suspect, she feels it's longer than it actually is (because the Germans use the metric system, at least that's why I hope so) and I'm grateful for every day we've had and every memory we've made. I hope the years we are yet to have together are even more than the ones we've shared. You are an angel of snow-too lovely to hold and too beautiful not to try. Happy Anniversary, Angel Eyes!
-bill kenny

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