I consider ours a miracle marriage, especially when you consider that I proposed to my wife in a chain letter. Here it is:
Dear Ramona Bjorndal,
This chain letter was started by my ancestors just after the great flood and it has NEVER BEEN BROKEN! To keep the chain going, all you have to do is marry me. This will include providing decent meals, clean laundry and lots of love for the next 60 years. In return, you’ll receive my undying devotion, occasional flowers, chocolate and access to my car keys until death do us part. If you break the chain, you will be destined to a life of misery and boredom, much like the math class we are sitting in.
It was clever stuff for a tenth grader. Four years later when I summoned the courage to show it to her, she laughed and agreed to marry me anyway. It wasn’t easy at first. Rodney Dangerfield said, “My wife and I were happy for 20 years. Then we met.” I felt like that the first year. I made more mistakes than most baseball umpires, but my wife stuck with me.
One August, we returned to the same hotel where we first shared a pillow. The staff was so impressed that a couple could stay together this long they couldn’t spoil us enough. They wheeled in complimentary chocolates and a large bottle of champagne on ice. I thought it was bubble bath, so we used it accordingly.
There are a thousand reasons we still share the same phone number and address. Here are just two.
1. We sweat the small stuff. Early on, I left mud on the carpet and whiskers in the sink. I even left my underwear where they landed. My wife left them there. I learned a valuable lesson: take care of small things before they become big ones. If I’m last out of bed, I make it. I’ve done this twice. And I kiss her lips before I shave each morning. Just the other day, I even located the laundry hamper.
2. We left no alternatives. The first three years of our marriage were miserable. Until I got a divorce – a divorce from loving myself and seeking my own way. I was reading the book of Galatians one night and this smacked me: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” I thought, Phil Callaway is dead. Now Jesus lives in me. So I need to get off the sofa sometimes and do things for her that I’d like done for myself. Divorce was never an option. Neither was murder. I’m so glad.
When we checked out of the hotel, our hostess congratulated us. “That’s a long time to be with one person!” she said. “Yep,” I replied, “but it would have been a whole lot longer without her.”
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