I have never known what divorce lawyers are supposed to do on Valentine’s Day. But today, I have a story I need to tell. A story about turning 60, about following the heart, about surprises, and about the love of my life.
I started school 54 years ago in the tiny town of Milroy, population 268. There were 16 people in my class, including a cute little girl named Marlys Zwach. We were a lot alike— socially outgoing, talkative, and loved to laugh. We were also quite different. I spent a lot of time in my head, sometimes thinking creatively, and sometimes just wandering into far off lands. She was always in the moment, smiling and spontaneous, seeming to trust what was in her heart. It seemed to me a curious way to live a life; but it caught my attention like a bright, shiny object.
Mar and I were good friends throughout all our years in school. When we reached the age of dating, I was too slow at the draw; she ended up dating one of my friends. I had to wait four years for that relationship to end — and, when it did just before our senior year of high school, I asked her out within a week. We dated through our senior year, went to college together, got married right after college, and have raised three wonderful children who carry a toxic combination of their Dad’s creative mind and their mom’s boundless heart.
Marlys turned 60 yesterday; I will catch up with her in April. Last Saturday our children gave us one of the shocks of our lives (and that’s saying something). We walked into a restaurant and were greeted by more than 80 loving friends and family members, all gathered for a surprise 60th birthday party. That afternoon was spent in a mind-numbing state of bliss as we shared embraces and laughter with most of the people who have made our lives so wonderful, and relived our 60 years through photographs, stories and videos.
As I looked around the room at all of the faces, I kept being struck by how wonderful it is to feel loved and to have people in our lives that we love so dearly. In fact, in those moments, it seemed clear that this is all I have ever really needed. So much of my life has been spent thinking I need to do more; that I have to be something more than who I am.
I am grateful for my mind, and all that it has helped me do; but I am realizing more each day that there is something bigger than all of us, something that can only be reached through the heart. Of course, this is not new to Marlys. She has always lead with her heart; letting her mind follow along, sometime humorously out of step, and not caring.
As I approach my 60th birthday, I seem to be finally ready to learn a lesson that a little six-year-old girl was trying to get me to see way back then. I still like to spend a lot of time thinking. I like my mind; it has helped me figure a few things out and has kept me entertained. But I realize today, more than ever, that my best moments, and my best decisions, have come from the heart.