Monday, August 26, 2013
..... my 12th wedding anniversary with Max....
..... had a few, unspoken emotional moments.
I met Max 16 years ago through a mutual friend who lived four doors down from me and whose son called him Uncle Max. Max was a fun loving whacky kind of guy who wore T-shirts with sayings like 'Dicks are for chicks' with the cereal box rabbit Trix dancing underneath. I was a single Mom, bent on caring for my two young sons after a failed marriage (I could write volumes on my first marriage and how not to involve yourself with someone who is the complete opposite of yourself and whose only ambition is to have - no ambition....) and nowhere near interested in having a relationship again..... Max was freshly out of a marriage himself and had recently begun dating which funny enough when Andrea mentioned it a few days before her son's party made me feel awkward? Max was only just this quirky, fun loving 'Uncle' to her son and a friend, so why would I care what he did with his free time now that he was single?
... until Mr. 'Trix' popped up the back stairs of Andrea's house, slid a case of beer on the top landing and came over to give me a kiss on the cheek. That would have been fine, only he missed the cheek and caught the corner of my lip. That was the moment in time that our worlds collided and everything I knew to be, was thrown out the window. Max was no longer a friend. We spent the afternoon at Andrea's son's fourth birthday party flirting like teenagers!!!! Later he would walk the boys and myself home and ask to see me again. Our first date came a few weeks later on December 17th. My neighbour Beth came over to help me colour my mousy brown hair and to put on make-up. I didn't spend any money on myself or my wardrobe so it was a reach to find something that didn't resemble motherhood or a working grunt. I couldn't afford anything and Christmas was coming, so the only bras I had that fit at the time were the nursing bras.... (I still blush at Max's discovery of these contraptions and the perplexed look on his face)... He took me to play pool at a downtown bar and after a few flirty games, we found a corner table in the far reaches of the restaurant. Well I was nervous, it was a date after all and my waving hand gestures whipped the draft beer square into my lap completely soaking me through my jeans. I stood up embarrassed and Max waved over the wait staff to clean up and order me a water.... which also joined the beer in my lap. Yes, he has never ever let me forget that first date and wonderful that he remembered in the moment to buy a rose from the wandering vendor and present it to me. It would be the first of many flowers....
Christmas of 1998 came a week later and Max headed out to his family for their celebrations but promptly showed up later in the evening to spend some time with the boys and myself. He would come to visit often and stay late just chatting on my living room futon. He never seemed to care about what my house looked like (a typical eclectic arrangement of mis-matched inexpensive furniture) or really what I looked like...an eclectic mix of second-hand clothing that didn't always fit well. New Year's Eve came and Max called to apologize that he had already booked and paid for tickets to an event at the Convention Centre but that he would call me later. I knew instinctively that he had a date and could feel the awkwardness of the phone call.... hours later, he would call and ask to come and see me at 1 in the morning. I agreed and he arrived an hour later, still dressed in his tuxedo, tie undone and still slung around his neck with that look in his eyes that made the world just disappear. I fell in love with Max that night and all the other nights since.
In January, after a particularly busy few days in the work week, I invited Max to come for dinner. I insisted and would later regret the invite when my boys gave Max the hardest time ever. I looked at a frustrated Max and let him know how sorry I was and that it was selfish of me to invite him over knowing that they might act up. I told him to leave. It was a moment in my life that was so pivotal and life changing. I watched him walk out the door and my heart sank to its lowest moment. I put my boys to bed that night.... quietly and without speaking to them and headed downstairs. I pulled out the children's scrap books and began to fill the pages. I understood that my children came first and would always come first with me. I was OK to just be Mom and boys if that what was in the cards for me in my future..... and then the phone rang. He started slowly to let me know that he had given a good deal of thought to our situation and that he really truly wanted to be their stepdad. I was completely stunned. Here was a man whose first diapering experience consisted of Mitchel painting his room with the contents of a packed diaper!!! Was he nuts??!!! Yes and so was I. That was mid January, two months after the party and a month after our first date.
In April that year, Mitchel was just two and William was five years old. They would meet Max's Mom and Step Dad for the first time over Easter holidays. It would become one of many family gatherings with this special blended family in traditions I was all too familiar with. While Max's family is Dutch, mine is a blend of German and Heinz 57. They treated my children like their own grandchildren and gave them memories that all children should have with loved ones.
By August, Max had moved in with me and the boys and we were making a life together. There were a few people who didn't feel we were being altogether smart in our decisions and by the end of August, our mutual friend Andrea would have plenty to say about her husband's friend Max and would be ruthless in telling me he would break my heart and would ruin my children's lives. I sat in my living room listening to her callous words as she watched our children play together. It would be the first time I would tell an invited guest to leave my home and never come back. She could not possibly imagine the wound she left me with that day. Beth would be the next 'friend' to be ushered out my door... she became petty and mean when Max became a part of my life and she no longer had me all to herself. She too would say things that memory now has dulled and laid to rest. There is something to be said about surrounding yourself with supportive and kind people.
November 1999 brought with it a cold winter afternoon complete with a request from a boss to work out in the back satellite dish enclosure to help our graphic employee Paul measure the dishes to be striped with graphic decals. My head was pounding so hard that day with a pressure headache that I didn't think to question this ridiculous request. A few minutes in to measuring the largest satellite dish, my ex sister-in-law shows up with the boys and hauling a tape deck. Beck promptly hits play and the tune is one Max and I considered our own song by Ricky Martin "She's all I ever had". With the boys presenting me with flowers, music playing.... head pounding....cameras flashing.... I still did not see the horse trotting towards me from behind the communication tower equipment shack. Max was sitting atop a white horse trotting over the snow towards me wearing his Australian slicker and matching hat. It finally dawned on me that this was the moment I had been anticipating for months since we picked out a beautiful diamond ring at a People's Jewellery sale. The tears drowned out the pounding headache and when he dismounted and went on one knee to ask me to be his wife I was cured!!!! Headache gone, ring on and lots of smooches later.... my co-workers and friends trekked out of the building to congratulate us both. Thank you to Beck, my boss and work for making this wonderful moment possible with the boys!!!
My Max has been through so much and has given us the world with his kindness, laughter and sense of play. He is a wonderful, loving husband who is there for me and has always been there for my boys and our daughter. While life is not perfect, I cannot imagine my life without Max. We have built a life together on our terms and what works for us. Last night, I dressed and he took me out on our 12th wedding anniversary to a local restaurant. We slowly walked over to Shoeless Joes with the intention of having a drink and just sharing time. I was so tired and the yawning seemed endless. The bartender kept eying me out of his peripheral when speaking with Max... somehow the make-up cannot hide the ravages of chemo when I am tired.... and smiled brightly when addressing me directly. We sat in a booth across from each other, gently holding each other's hands. He is showing me pictures from the Fan Expo he went with the kids and Uncle Paul with earlier in the day in Toronto. We finish a drink and a mini dessert and decide to walk home the long way. We have many silent moments between us as we meander down the sidewalk. He encircle each other around the waist and I lay my head on his shoulder. I tell him that I hope for another 12 years and he looks forward, silent and I can see he is emotional.... I am trying to keep it light and force out a laugh... and then the ridiculous giggling starts. God how I love you so much Max and am deeply grateful for our wonderful life.
I hate cancer.... there, I said it...... and I hate that my family has to go through this again!!! While we do not know how long we have together.... and none of us do, as Anna found out when she lost her love at such a young age, we have today. We snuggled in and and wrapped around each other and do what married people do when they are still in love .... and then fell into a deep sleep. This morning is quiet as the kids and Uncle Paul are asleep. Max is on the computer getting ready for school and I am blogging and getting ready for school as well. Today I am finally feeling somewhat normal!! The darkened sky is peaceful and I will spend the day inside finishing the quilt I have been working on for Sarah. Mitch and Uncle Paul will go to Stratford for most of the week and Miss Lydia will cycle down to get ready for school after a very awesome summer!!!
Note: My ex husband Michael (father of the boys) met a woman in March of 2000 and married her in September of that year. They would have their first and only child, a daughter Hope, born in December of 2000. They are still together today living in the greater Chatham area. Michael has not seen his boys since July of 2009, for the exception of a well meaning girlfriend of William's who thought to take him for a visit earlier this year and who was shocked at how little he would he would have to do with him when they got there. His mother discontinued sending cards to her grandsons months later and Aunt Beck, who lives a few blocks away has not been to visit since August 2009.