[This is the letter I wrote to my wife for our 37th wedding anniversary and for Mother’s Day, May 8 and 10, 2005]
My Dear and Wonderful Bride:
Remember when we were smaller? A lot smaller? I was probably 50-60 pounds smaller. My pants were smaller. I still remember buying trousers with a 32-inch waist! I couldn’t get my right leg in the waist of 32-inch trousers now. My neck size was 16-1/2 for most of our early married years. I bought a lot of great shirts at DI with necks less than 17 inches. If I wore one now, I would shut off the blood to my head and be brain dead in three minutes. Not that anyone would notice . . .
Our family was smaller. Nine months after we were married we had Chris. Now there are in-laws and grandkids and foster kids. A family gathering requires more traveling than the Crusades. And makes more noise too. We have matriculated from having kids in diapers to having kids with kids in diapers, and a lot of grandkids who are too old for diapers. Then, we could toss the entire tribe into our gutless Chevy Citation or our Pontiac LeMans or our Volkswagen Bug and go places together! Now there are so many of us it requires an act of Congress to get us together. And we’d need to reserve the Kennedy Center to do it.
We were able to live in a smaller place, too. How many square feet were there in that apartment on 4th North in Logan? 700? Maybe. Now we couldn’t fit our used stockings in 700 square feet. Our budget was smaller too, thank goodness. We didn’t have enough income then to buy the milk we drink now. We finally got to a larger home in North Logan, but the bathroom was so small I could only shave with one hand! I watered several acres of wheat that summer to offset the cost of rent and decided I did not want to be a farmer when I grew up.
Our cars were smaller. We are now van drivers! Why did we wait till we were down to our last kids to buy a van? Well, we still have the Geo, but we can make most of our trips now with one vehicle rather than two.
Our aches and pains were smaller. I can remember going whole weeks without taking any pills, and months without seeing a doctor. Now, one day without my meds and somebody will be playing taps. I could throw a ball a long way and not feel a twinge. A hard throw now, and my arm will be in a sling for most of the next decade. Now I take heart medicine and digestion medicine and tooth medicine and aspirin and fiber, and stuff to regulate my blood sugar. I ache in places that I didn’t know were places 20 years ago.
Our stuff was smaller, too. We took one car full of possessions into the Army and to Fort Bragg and hardly missed the things we left behind. Now we have more stuff in storage than we used in the first 15 years of our marriage. We have enough toilet paper and paper towels to TP the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building. We have enough wheat to feed Costa Rica during the millennium. We have enough wire hangers to supply Van Heusen for a decade.
But some things are bigger now; some really important things. Our home is bigger because everything that homes are about is bigger. The family is bigger. The kids are bigger. Our love is bigger. Our joy is bigger. Our trust and our faith are bigger. Our testimonies are bigger. Our love for the temple and temple work is bigger. The number of our friends is bigger. The goodness of our lives is bigger. We have broken more dishes in this house than we owned in our first six houses. But that is because we have more dishes and more wonderful people to feed and more resources to feed them and more grandkids to break them.
And we have five daughters! In a few weeks the two new ones will be adopted and sealed and will be ours eternally. And they are all stupendous! I have learned this year better than ever in my life to trust the Lord and his hand and his love. I find myself praying with faith for the things I think we need but also praying with great longing for the things the Lord knows we need, no matter how difficult they are for us to see. We could never have become what we are without the overarching and underlying assistance of a God. I know now in a way I never knew before that His arm is at work in our lives. Our kids and the adopted kids and the grandkids and the spouses of our kids are incontrovertible proof . . .
Our experience with missionary work is bigger. Remember how difficult it was in those early years to invite people to open their hearts while we opened our mouths? But seven great missionary children have taught us to love the work and we have watched some fine people embrace the truth over the years, in part because of our effort and love. For that matter, our sons are bigger. They ought to be, of course. Life does that to people. But consider what those boys have done, and what they will do. They manage businesses and raise kids and serve faithfully in the Kingdom and love the Lord.
The Lord was not talking about us when he said this, but he might have been:
“And inasmuch as they are faithful, behold I will bless, and multiply blessings upon them. And this is the beginning of the stewardship which I have appointed them, for them and their seed after them. And, inasmuch as they are faithful, I will multiply blessings upon them and their seed after them, even a multiplicity of blessings” (Doctrine and Covenants 104:31 – 33).
We can almost hear God promising us (in our faithfulness) “I will make you bigger.” And he has.
My dearest wife, thank you for sharing it all with me. I know it has not always been easy. I hope it has been worth it.
All my love,