The Seasons of my Life
edited: Thursday, June 21, 2007
By Greg L Gumkowski
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2007
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What I learned about life and love.
The seasons of my life (And what I learned about love)
In the spring of my life, I thought I knew what love was, but I was wrong. My thoughts and beliefs were filtered through a childhood of abuse and isolation.
During my high school years I found myself in relationships that quickly became unhealthy. Love was more physical than emotional and that physicality quickly became the lynch pin in all my relationships. If a girlfriend acquiesced to my need for physical intimacy, then I regarded it as a sign of her love. If she refused my advances, then I quickly began to question her love. Worse, the more doubt I had, the more possessive I became. The more possessive I became, the more I began to smother her. I could not see, or did not want to see, that my behavior was directly related to my relationship with my mother as well as my lack of social skills, which only served to exacerbate my feelings of isolation.
As the spring of my life moved into the summer of my life, I ended a four-year relationship with my then girlfriend. Actually, if I am being honest, my girlfriend was the one who ended the relationship. I was at rock bottom and had pretty much given up on ever finding true love. But then, I still didnít understand what love really was.
Then, when I was at my lowest point it happened, I saw her. I was working at a department store for the summer and it was closing time, so I offered to take the days receipts from our department up to the office. There she was, standing behind the counter. The first thing I noticed was her eyes, they were the most beautiful shade of blue. As I walked up and handed her the money pouch she smiled and stole my heart, there and then.
For the rest of that summer, every night I worked, I made sure I was the one to take up the money at the end of the night. The only problem was, I never had the nerve to talk to her. I had convinced myself that someone who was that attractive, must have a boyfriend.
Fate intervened however. For a coworker, having had their fill of my bemoaning my lack of courage to ask this beautiful young woman to my "End of the Summer" party, picked up the store phone, dialed the office, asked for Kathy and then handed me the phone. I had no choice. I had to talk to her.
15 minutes later we met in the break room and I extended the invitation, mentioning that she could bring a friend if she liked. My heart soared, sank and then soared once again in a matter of a few seconds. Yes, she would like to come. Yes, she would like to bring her friend Pat. No, Pat was a girlfriend.
God surely must have intended for us to be together, because given my behavior the day of the party and unbeknownst to me, Kathyís feelings about drinking, only God could have kept this first meeting from being our last.
The party was on a Saturday and started at ten in the morning. Kathy had to work that day, so she and Pat arrived at about 9:30 that evening. By then, like most young men my age, I had already consumed quite a few adult beverages. Why she didnít take one look at me and turn around and leave, only heaven knows.
To my surprise, and her friendís dismay, she accepted my invitation to go for a walk so I could clear my head. It was a beautiful summer night and the stars dotted a cloud free sky of velvet black. We held hands and slowly walked around the block and chatted. I discovered that she was a senior in high school and three years younger than I was. More importantly, I found out that she hadnít decided with whom she wanted to go to her prom. Before we finished our walk, I summoned the courage to ask if I could take her. She thought about it for what seemed an eternity and then said yes.
In the summer of my life, God gave me the opportunity to meet the one person whom He knew could change my life and make me whole.
In the summer of my life I married, got a job, had three wonderful children and I began to wonder if I really knew what love was. Only the passage of time would allow me to begin to understand that Kathy was the key to finding my soul and learning what love truly was.
As the summer of my life slowly turned into the fall of my life, I finally began to understand. It came slowly at first and then unexpectedly, there was an amazing moment of awareness and clarity. It took place during my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary trip to Las Vegas. I can honestly say that I have always loved my wife, but in that moment, I truly, fully, fell in love with her.
All this took place on the day we decided to leave the hustle and bustle of Vegas for a day-trip to the mountains. That morning, as we walked a mountain pass, we got caught in the rain and the ground turned to mud. We were slipping and sliding unable to make any progress up the trail and all we could do was laugh. We laughed so hard we cried. We were two kids playing in the rain. Later that day we climbed a 1,400 foot trail to the top of a mountain. The view was breathtaking and we shared it side by side. As the day came to an end we stopped at an out of the way restaurant for dinner just as the sun was beginning to set.
As we waited for our meals to be served, I gazed across the table at my wife of twenty-five years and all I could see was the girl I met at AM&Aís with the beautiful blue eyes and that infectious smile. In that moment I understood what love was and why God brought her into my life.
I finally understood that the problem was not in how others expressed their love for me, but in my inability to accept it. It was my notions about what love was and how it should be expressed that were wrong and destructive. I realized that over the past twenty-five years, all the low points in out marriage were directly related to my skewed view of what love and marriage should be like.
In the fall of my life, I have learned that love is not something I can choose to define. It just is. Trying to define it, to put boundaries around it, only diminishes it.
In the fall of my life, I have come to understand how blessed I am to have Kathy in my life. To have someone, who was and is willing to stand beside me through all my ups and downs, to support me, to encourage me, and laugh at my silly jokes.
In the fall of my life, I have come to realize that for twenty-five years my wife has given me all of her heart. And all she has ever asked in return is for me to accept her for who she is and not for whom I thought she should be.
And as the fall of my life moves into winter, I pledge with all my heart, that for the rest of my days, I will return all the love she has given me, completing the circle. Loving her for who she is and blessing every moment we share.