Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Same Man for Me

In 1977, through coercion and half truths, I started writing a male type person from my church.  He was in the Navy and I was told he was lonely, homesick and missing news from home.  His sister said he had asked if I would write and update him on life in rural Mid-Mo.  So honored to do my duty for the US Navy, I did.  I wrote this young man and over the next 10 months or so, I came to know and trust him in a depth I had not yet experienced with any other male person.  We shared our secrets, dreams and our longings.

That summer of 1978, he was home on leave from the Navy and we spent nearly every day together.  He fascinated me, not only the world traveler who had seen whales burst from watery depths, he was trustworthy.  One morning that summer I shared with him my most closely held secret, the one I was certain would send him scurrying for the hills.  But with tears in his eyes, he apologized.  On behalf of men who would never use, mistreat, or abuse a female, he wanted to apologize.
I wanted to jump his bones.

lol  For the first time in my life of being chased by horny teenagers, pursued by men twice my age, and frightened by pervy old men with bad intentions, the restraint of this young man moved me.  I asked if he was at all attracted to me, or was our relationship platonic only.  With snapping eyes that have the uncanny ability to turn beady and hard in seconds, he assured me that he was VERY attracted to me.

Feb. 1978, @ St. Thomas Island, and yes, those are prints of his
feet .  He doodled this in the sand 6  months before
he would declare the same to me.

But in his prayers for me, he was certain he was being led to move very slowly in his desire to pursue me.  That he was to allow ME to set the pace to our courtship.  I told him that I thought I would like to try kissing him.  After a sloppy false start ;) we got the hang of it.

This man for me, was not just pursuing me for selfish desire, he wanted to wed me.  A year later, we stood before friends and family and made our vow to each other to love, honor and trust.  We quickly found out that we were as compatible between the sheets as we were out in public. Being in the Navy made for a feast and famine type of sexual hijinks for this young couple.  The Navy thought they were sending him out to sea to complete his job, but we knew the truth.  He went to sea so we could recover and build up the strength necessary for the next home port visit.

Yes.  I'm aware that this information falls squarely in the category of TMI.  

The man made my eyeballs sweat.

This was the same man who 6 years later, held me in his arms and sang to me while I miscarried our first conceived child.

The same man who 8 years later would chat about Cardinal baseball with the anesthesiologist, holding my hand and who got the first glimpse of our son.  He had to reassure me repeatedly that we really had a son, and he really was perfect.

James' birth 1988

The same man who 10 years later, did way more than his share without complaint, while I finished nursing school.

The same man 13 years later, who did not object when I decided being a working wife and mother was not who I was supposed to be.

The same man who 18 years later, allowed me and our son to spend a week each month with my father while he went through his chemo treatments.  The husband who did without us so that my parents got the emotional and physical support they needed.
My momma, Patricia Fern Sexton Shepherd
My daddy, Ivan Russell Shepherd

The same man, 20 years later sprang to my defense when someone from the past denied his wrongs against me.  He held my broken heart and helped me find my way to healing.

The same man who still brings me roses.

The same man who 31 years later, held me tightly when the diagnosis came back devastating.  A man who assured me that while breasts were fine window dressing they were not the sum of what he loved in me. 

Steroid face...ha ha ha

Yes, the same man kissed my bald head, kept me supplied in banana pops, provided me with basic hygiene when mutilating surgeries left me unable to move my arms forward or backward.  The same man wept at my pain when radiation dissolved away my skin and left open, weeping agonizing wounds.  He is the man who encourages me to keep striving for more, even when the results are not what I had hoped.

He is the man who held my hand when our son spoke his own words of love and vow to the only girl he had ever loved.

There is a part of the marriage ceremony which declares, "That which God hath joined together, let no man tear asunder."  In our society today there is a lot of discord about defines marriage, whether it is important, whether it has anything to do to with God at all.

This Friday, July 27th, I will celebrate 33 years with the same man.  When so many claim to grow apart in marriage, we have grown together so tightly that many consider us INgrown.  But this I know.  Only God could choose the same man for me that would make my eyeballs sweat when I was 18, sing to me when we were losing a child, defend me against my enemies, uphold me in the deaths of my parents, and love me through the pain and mutilating losses of breast cancer over the course of three decades.

Only God who could have seen into the future to know what I need now would be the same man I needed 33 years ago.

Only God.

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  1. Tina, that was beautiful. That sincerely brought tears to my eyes. I can only hope to have a tender, loving, bone rattling love story like what God has given you. ;)
    Knowing a man to love you though every thing that could go wrong in a marriage, is only of God. Thank you so much for sharing this. I would love to hear more!

    1. Thank you Symone. We have been fortunate, oh so fortunate. I did laugh at your "bone rattling love story." Girl....you have no idea. Intimacy with the covenant of marriage turns "horizontal fellowship" into expressive events, not what society has minimized and trivialized into a social activity. You hold on for that love story.

  2. What a blessing that God gave you to one another! His gifts are so good!

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you Tracy. You know he has been the best earthly thing God has done for me.

  4. So beautiful... what an amazing GOD-story! He is the Supplier of all Comfort - and not only has Mr. Kelly been your comfort, but I have been comforted through reading this post. Comforted in the fact that there are really honorable men who glorify God and cherish their wives. Comforted in the knowledge that you have not had to bear your burdens alone. Your testimony inspires me to hang tough in my marriage, knowing that God already has our future written for His glory... And it is neat to see how God has been using your writing gift from the beginning - not only to bless us through the internet, but to bless and intrigue a young sailor all those years ago. :)

    And a huge shout out to the US NAVY!!! My dad is a Master Chief in the US Naval Reserves - going on 30 years in service, about to retire. He is a Seabee. :) Thanks to Mr. Kelly for his service.

    Continuing to keep you in my prayers... Leah

    1. Kel served for 12 years when a medical condition forced his separation. His last duty station was the USS Forrestal at Mayport. It's been decommissioned and scheduled to be sunk. I'm sure your dad would understand how that grieves my sweetheart. He and many others worked hard to have it classified as a floating museum.

      :) We sometimes chuckle about having served in the Navy when it was HARD for couples...all communication was by mail. No texting, cell phones, email, skyping or voice chat. We burned through books of stamps! I also had the great fortune that Kel was very faithful to write. We had to number our letters so we could keep them in order. lol It made growing and staying in love a lot easier.