On this day in love’s history, we celebrate two things: the birth of my wife Samantha Wakefield, and also the anniversary of our official start as a couple. I still remember that late evening in Lullwater Park on Emory’s campus when I convinced her to took a stroll to see what I thought was a the waterfall near a castle tower ruin, (It turned out to be much less glorious, though it still became our spot…I would propose there three years later on a warm summer night surrounded by candlelight and the help of a few friends). Her curiosity and belief in me that night was the first of many times that I fell in love with her for coming along for the journey.
I’ve had the good fortune of knowing Samantha Andrea Wakefield (then Wright) for exactly half of my life now, and yet I can’t imagine any of my life without her. We were 18 when we met, and we’ve not spent a single birthday a part (until last week when I was in Oakland for work). Since that fateful evening on February, 25, 2002 when I worked up the courage to kiss the girl of my dreams, we’ve grown up together, built a life together and we’re attempting to impact the world together. What can I say? I got lucky young, and I found a good one.
Our senior year in college after we got engaged, we took ballroom dancing lessons as a gym elective. It happened to be our second class together (our first was an 8:30 math class freshman year that we both struggled to attend coincidentally). The difference here was that I would have never signed up for a ballroom dancing class on my own. One of my distinct memories was learning how to waltz and tango. These two dances seem pretty intricate from the observers eye, and at first I was pretty skeptical about being able to learn given my historically poor dancing skills. But, as I’ve read and experienced, both dances are really about having a great partner who knows when to lead and when to follow.
The better you are a being a partner, the better experience your partner has, and the better you look in the process.
What a great metaphor for a strong relationship!
Yesterday I watched as my wife played with our youngest of four daughters, Sloane. As she caught me glancing, she playfully demanded, what are you smiling and looking at? I was smiling at what I saw, what I’ve been fortunate enough to witness for half a lifetime. Years ago when I first met her I saw some of the same qualities. Though I didn’t come to college looking for a wife, I knew mine when I found her. Though I knew that children were far off in my future, I knew that Samantha would one day make a great mom. But the thing I appreciated most about her, what I respected and what still inspires me to this day, is her versatility. She’s strong, spiritually, emotionally, physically. She’s simply one of the most resilient people I know, and her strength carries others. She’s gifted and talented, as an artist she writes, sings, cooks, is athletic, and brilliantly gifted academically as well. She’s also down to earth, empathetic, and a great nurse. This is the same woman who nursed our entire house back to health last when when first I went down with the flu, ultimately taking a few of our daughters with me.
So, on this day as we celebrate your birthday my dear, I salute you for the woman, wife, and mother you’ve become. I thank you for your continued partnership in this life. I’m excited for your girls night out, one that I’m sure you’ll enjoy and that you need. Here’s to celebrating many more birthdays together.