life on the funny farm

Saturday, June 25, 2011

History of a Romance

Year 1 Love at first sight. Well. Since we had been in classes together for six years, and had worked side by side for several months at the movie theatre, perhaps not "at first sight". But instantaneous, light-switch-flipped love, how 'bout that? As we gazed at each other over the shoulders of our respective prom dates.

Year 2 Adjust to the whole long distance romance thing. We attended colleges several hours apart from each other.

Year 3 "Will you marry me?" Maybe not on bended knee on a mountaintop with a 4kt diamond, but a simple college student's ring presented without fanfare in my college dorm.

Year 4 The love letters continued to pile up as we wrote to each other several times a week. In the days before the myriad options for how you wanted to contact a person, we were relegated to love letters and Friday night phone calls. We saw each other only a handful of times during the school year, but made up for it during the summers.

Year 5 First comes love, then comes marriage. We finally tied the knot five years and a month from when we began going together. I had at long last finished college and he had both finished college and gotten through his first year of med school.

Year 6 Time to play grownups with our first apartment, a one bedroom 2nd floor unit in East Brunswick, NJ. Mr., Mrs, dog and cat.

Year 7 I worked at my job as an Occupational Therapist, plus a little moonlighting, while he continued his studies at medical school, practicing his stitches on our hand-me-down couch.

Year 8 Medical school cap and gown time! And we loaded up the truck and we moved to Delaware.

Year 9 Fred started his residency, I started my new job, and our friends moved in with us. Our friends, plus their two little children, their newborn baby, and their Great Dane. Good times, good times.....

Year 10 We never found out what our landlord was doing with the rent money we paid him, but it wasn't paying the mortgage. Came home to a sheriff's auction sign in the front yard and so we moved again, to an old farmhouse in MD.

Year 11 An old farmhouse needs a horse to go along with it, and I was happy to oblige.

Year 12 Our first child, our son Patrick, was born. We were spanked hard as we entered the world of parenthood.

Year 13 Fred graduated his residency program as chief resident, and began his fellowship in Trauma and Critical Care.

Year 14 When he was all done being a good fellow, he took a job with this hospital where he did his residency. No moving required.

Year 15 We moved into our first boughten house just weeks before our 2nd child, our daughter Rosie, was born.

Year 16 Marked our 10 year anniversary. "Ten years and never had a fight".

Year 17 Two wasn't enough. One girl, one boy wasn't enough. We had our third child, our son Daniel. We were officailly outnumbered.

Year 18 This boughten house I mentioned? It was a 250 year old farmhouse on 11 1/2 acres. We (meaning I) continued to pour animals into the house, the barn, the fields. We (meaning I) added goats, sheep, ponies, and a pig to the property. For ambience.

Year 19 Kept busy fixing up the old house, mending fences, caring for critters, burying old pets.

Year 20 Kept busy wiping noses, wiping bottoms, changing diapers, cutting sandwiches into fun shapes, arranging playdates, tending boo-boos, nursing babies, learning to function on a 1/2 hour of sleep, and cleaning up after Hurricane Children on a daily basis.

Year 21 Apparently three wasn't enough. Two boys and one girl wasn't enough. We adopted Bella, who turned six one month after arriving in America from Kazakhstan.

Year 22 Apparently four wasn't enough either. We began hosting exchange students. Enter Milly from Taiwan, who spent her junior year in high school living with our crazy family. She also got to move with us as we loaded up the trucks again and moved to our bigger house on a smaller property. Fred laughed nervously and said, "You're not planning on filling up those extra bedrooms, are you?"

Year 23 Exit Milly, enter Eun Hae and Felice, from South Korea and Hong Kong, respectively.

Year 24 Took a year off from adding students to our family, but worked on building up the animal headcount once again.

Year 25 Oh what the heck, I'll take another. Enter Nadya from Germany.

Year 26 Two empty bedrooms means two more kids. We adopted James and Julie, also from Kazakhstan, and when they came home to us they were 10 and nearly 14.

Year 27 OK, no more exchange students. But let's host a Fresh Air Fund kid. A little boy from the inner city to stay with us for a week in the summer.

Year 28 Has it really been 28 years together and 23 years of marriage? Looking back I can see that since we started this romance we've lived in six places, starting in Fred's Dad's attic and ending in our current seven bedroom home. We have cared for countless critters and have 42 currently. We have hosted four exchange students and one Fresh Air Fund child. We have added three kids to our family by birth and three by adoption. We have weathered the deaths of beloved pets. The births and adoptions of our children. We have lived through times with no money and times of comfort. We have attended the funerals of grandparents, of siblings, of parents.

We have sometimes faced adversity head on, rowing our lifeboat sitting shoulder to shoulder, but there were also times we sat at opposite ends of the lifeboat, scarcely looking at each other as we weathered the storm.
But through it all we've grown stronger, closer, more in tune with each other than we ever would have thought possible when we were first gazing at each other over the shoulders of our prom dates that night so many, many years ago.

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