By Don Lindsey
On Tuesday, my wife Tammy will celebrate her birthday. October 9th has always been a big day for me with my nephew Jamie turning 34 on the same day. You’ll notice how I left out which birthday it will be for Tammy, knowing how women are about announcing their age, I figured it would be suicidal to let that information out.
A tradition that I practice every year is to write her a letter wishing her the happiest of birthdays and to also thank her for everything that she does for our little family. While I’ll never run out of ways to express my love and gratitude for my wife, I thought that it would be a nice change to make my feelings a little more public this year and so this column will be dedicated to expressing my admiration for her loving presence in my life and the lives of our children and parents.
I first met Tammy when I was about 12 years old. I lived across the street from one of her cousins, and every now and again, her family would come up to Ohio from here to visit. I still remember the first time I saw her. She was leaning over the partial wall of my friend’s front porch staring at me. I tried to not look at her because I didn’t want to show how enamored I was with the pretty blonde girl who was looking in my direction. What is important to note here is that at 12 I wasn’t interested in girls yet. For me, sports were king. It was all I watched and all I wanted to do and the only time I was really happy was when I was on a baseball diamond, basketball court or playing some game with my friends around the neighborhood.
My friend was playing king of the hill with Tammy’s brother’s, and after a quick introduction and “nice to meet you” pleasantries, I walked on to where ever I was heading. I recall turning back and still seeing her looking in my direction. What surprised me was how I was feeling about it. For weeks after the encounter (if that’s what you want to call it), I could not get her pretty little face out of my head. I would find ways to try and talk to my friend about her without drawing too much attention to the fact that I liked her.
It’s funny how the mind works. I can tell you every detail about the first time that I saw her but the two years following that are a blur to me, and in those two years the friendship that Tammy and I forged would go on to be one of the greatest things that has ever happened in my life. I wish that I had more details on our conversations other than the memories from having to work off hundreds of dollars in phone bills from the hours and hours of time we spent talking to each other. One thing that I do know is that by the time my friend invited me to take a trip here to see his family, Tammy and myself were anxious to see each other.
That trip turned out to be the best vacation that I’ve ever been on. We stayed in the house that I live in now. Tammy and I shared our first kiss in the room that is now our bedroom, and a trip with her family to Wet and Wild was one of the single greatest days of my life. It seemed as if we held hands all day and the relaxed feeling I had around her, the ability to be myself was nice because I had always felt the need to be more as is the case with most 14-year-old kids. She disarmed me right away though and going back to Ohio was not an easy thing to do.
We considered ourselves a couple, but as time went on, we both realized that the thousand plus miles that separated us made it too hard to keep a relationship going. We stayed great friends and kept up when we could, but we were both growing up and as a result, couldn’t keep in touch as much as we would have liked.
I got a job and looked to find my place in the world and she did the same. After a while, she got married and had three wonderful children. With this knowledge, I never thought that we could be together even though I had always wished that things would have turned out differently. Fast forward to 2011 and the two of us started talking again. Her first marriage was falling apart, and she was looking to move forward for herself and her children. I wasn’t sure how it would work but once we confessed that we still cared deeply for each other, I had the overwhelming feeling to see where this was taking us and that turned out to be the greatest decision I’ve ever made.
I started making trips down here in August of 2011 and quickly made friends with the kids. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was a test. She needed to see how I would be around her children. Fact of the matter is that she would have been fine never being in another relationship and was only giving me a chance based on our history and her feelings for me. I fell in love with the kids, passing the test and cementing my place in their lives. A year later, on November 17, 2012 we were married on a beach in Fort Pierce and while marriage is a tough road at times, we’ve stayed close relying on our love and friendship to get through some of the worst things we’ve ever faced.
As I said earlier, I could never run out of words to show my appreciation for my wife and even though I’m writing this for her, I’m still not off the hook for writing a hand-written letter for her birthday so I’ll end this column with a short note to the woman who’s changed my life for the better in so many ways.
Thank you for never giving up on us. Thank you for being the mother that you are to the children, the wife that you are to me and for being the human being that you are in general. I love you and hope that you have the happiest birthday yet.
Don Lindsey is a follower of Christ, son, husband, father, and a survivor. Originally from Dayton Ohio, and resident of Apopka for six years, Don sees his life as a dedication to his wife, parents, children, and community.