A few of you might remember that, not too long ago, I was a divorced, single mother with two young sons.  My former husband was absentis parentis so, quite literally, the whole world revolved around my boys—ages five and 18 months.  For 15 years we struggled.  I worked incredibly hard trying to build a successful career.  I paid my way through college—not once, but twice.  We lived for many years in a squalid apartment complex amongst drug dealers, convicted felons and, sadly, other single parents.  I couldn’t afford to buy two new winter coats each year so my boys had to alternate, buying clothes several sizes too large to make them last.  We never took a family vacation.  We don’t have a single family portrait of the three of us.  Family portraits were a luxury we couldn’t afford. 

By the time I met my current husband, my sons were nearly grown, and the toughest years were behind us.  But the years of hardship had left me feeling philosophically skeptical, infallible, mistrustful and arrogant.  Then I met my husband.  After a courtship that lasted several years, we took a giant leap of faith and got married in 2009.  It
has not been an easy marriage.  The past three years have been fraught with financial woes, unemployment, family drama, work stress, a new house, a new baby, two dogs and a cat, bad neighbors, and the associated stress that all those things bring.  

When my husband and I were still dating, before we were even engaged, I felt strangely compelled to write about him.  My husband fascinated me.  I admired him.  He was a scintillation of so many of the things I felt I’d lost with the passing of previous generations.  I barely knew him, but I knew enough.  This list is a reminder of the potential of our relationship and it is a celebration of his uniqueness.  Little did I know my appreciation of him would help carry me through some very tough times.  So, in celebration of my husband, I would like to share this list with readers, and challenge them to do the same.  

The Top 25 Things That Make You Uniquely You

1.  When you smile, it lights up a room.

2.  You are a 6’4”, 275 pound Drama Queen.  You writhe around in agony when you stub your toe on a piece of furniture.  You’re an example of why God doesn’t let men have babies.

3.  You are fiercely protective of your family.  Especially of your “little” sisters, ages 41 and 46.

4.  You adore your son Andrew.  You beam with pride whenever you talk about him.

5.  You are unapologetic about your political views.

6.  You are a dreamer.  You wistfully hope for things with no expectation that you will ever have them. You only hope.

7.  You are old-fashioned in your beliefs.

8.  You love the Marine Corps with all your heart.  That is the only time I’ve ever seen you cry.  Except when you stub  your toe.

9.  You are the quintessential dog-person.  You’d prefer to be in the company of animals than most people.

10.  You believe that you and John Wayne were actually “tight.”

11.  You are an old soul.  You remind me of everything that I’ve lost with the passing of earlier generations.

12. You know the titles of old movies on TV, ones from the “golden era” of film.  I don’t know how you know such things.

13.  You are a natural historian.  You have a deeply abiding respect for the past.

14.  You are intelligent.  You have many divergent interests.  You can discuss a multitude of ideas and topics.

15.  You are child-like.  You love wandering through antique shops looking for old toy trains.

16.  You are a Boy Scout.  You have a certain innocence about you that I cannot even fathom.

17.  You have broad shoulders.

18.  You are what I believe every man should be.  What I hope my sons one day to become.

19.  You admire the strength and courage of other men.  Especially if they also happen to be Marines.

20.  You love your mother.  Even though you’re a pain in her rump.

21.  You never let the truth get in the way of a good story.  

22.  You love an audience.  I’ve seen you hold court in a room full of people you don’t even know.  At a party you weren’t even invited to.  You are a ham.  A glazed ham, but a ham, nonetheless.

23.  You love my cooking.  

24.  You get extremely cranky when you need a nap.  Or when you need to be burped, or changed.

25.  You make me feel safe when I’m with you.  I know in my heart that you love me.

My next two blog posts will be a departure from the norm for me as both will encompass some very personal feelings about two very important people to me—my husband and my daughter.  I am a private person by nature; therefore, I also try to be sensitive of the privacy of others, especially my own children.  If I offend someone who knows me well, I expect them to reach out to me in private to express their feelings.  A public forum is never the place to air your grievances.  Unbridled rage and sarcasm only make readers wary.  And do not confuse public interest with empathy; at the most, you are mildly entertaining, like scanning a National Enquirer at the grocery store checkout.  Nothing more.  Those who feed into your e-tantrums and daily rants are not your friends—trust me.  They will not be there when the crowd grows bored with you and moves on to the next titillating topic.  
I revile bloggers who post scathing rebukes electronically as a way to exact punishment for perceived wrongs.  I shake my head in disgust when I read unflattering posts about easily identifiable family members or friends written in what appears to be some form of cheap entertainment.  I wonder how these otherwise intelligent people fail to realize that a blog is not a child’s diary that can be kept under lock and key.  A blog is a living, breathing document.  A scathing post can have deleterious and long-lasting effects.  If your relationships are strained to the breaking point or, worse, you can count lost relationships among the collateral damage, you are probably one of the offenders of whom I speak.  I admit that this self-ascribed “Code of e-Conduct” is the hope and dream of a fatally flawed individual and, as such, I am sure to fail miserably now and again.  No matter, it is enough to strive for excellence; no one will crucify you if you fall short on occasion.  
Sadly, my hyper-sensitivity to privacy issues has also worked against me, preventing me from sharing my thoughts and feelings about the people I care about the most.  I intend to remedy this situation by writing opuses for two people of whom I’ve never written about publicly—pieces that, in the event of my untimely departure, I would be proud for them to read and share with others.  I am not an emotional person by nature; however, I am a human being who, like you, loves her family with all her heart.  It seems shameful not to try and capture my feelings for the ones I love in words, if for no other reason than simply to raise them up.  To my husband and daughter, thank you for trusting me to write about you.  I promise not to embarrass you; well, not intentionally, anyway.