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Married – 40 years

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The concept of hero is an eternal one and in so many ways is denoted by the extraordinary!
War heroes, people who perform acts of bravery – sporting heroes, heroes in the arts and sciences are all designated heroes in some way. These people are all acknowledged publically. Very little is written about the “daily heroes”: the people who live extraordinary lives every day as husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, living their lives in a spirit of service and sacrifice. Mostly unrecognized these people (in many cases women and certainly in my case) are the real “guts” of families and society – creating families, supporting spouses bringing children into the world and working always in the best interest of the “other” to unleash healthy functioning adults into the world. They work hard in whatever circumstances for their families to make life meaningful, dignified and safe. Engaging in the journey of reaching her potential and helping those who are in her world reach theirs! It is these heroes who actually make the world work.

Their primary reason for living seems to be to bring joy to the people around them. I live with one of these people and it is a distinct privilege.
She is my hero!

There is no doubt in my mind, that being married to Sally for 40 years is my finest achievement and while I am very proud of this – my recent ponderings lead me to a very humbling thought. While I am totally committed and we certainly can be proud together it is Sally who has done more hard yards.

In our early relationship, Sally tolerated some seriously “immature” moments while I was still growing up! Driving me home from events; watching endless cricket games; rugby games; attending many parties with my friends; as we progressed to serious courtship. She then travelled overseas so I could complete my growing up phase (and I followed her!). In the final analysis I am grateful she chose me!

A young man with potential and not much else! Some years later she told me I was the nicest boy she had met! She certainly was the best I had met! Not only that! She had savings!

She organized the wedding and with the assistance of her mother and my mother, found and purchased a house for us to live in.
Once we were married she was the “working heart” of the system; I was the productive unit, and a presence; Sally carried our five children (losing one to miscarriage). Early in our marriage Sally joined me in an escapade relating to Marriage Education! She chose full time motherhood and gave up teaching. She joined me in our life faith journey. She cared for our four beautiful children every day, every week and every month. I worked and travelled. I volunteered for all manner of community service. (Professional bodies, Church bodies, sporting clubs and School Boards.) Sally actually supported me every time while contributing to her own organizations and eventually working part time.

I turned up frequently and often to be briefed on the progress of everything. Still I was the productive unit or the funding source and a presence! Everything worked like clockwork – the budget balanced mostly; kidlets did well at school, we had holidays every year, Labrador, Stradbroke Is. (Camping)! Byron Bay and others: sometimes twice! With little money to spend she moved furniture to refresh our home and every Christmas decorated the place in a way only she could! Birthday cakes and parties! Special celebrations for my 30th, 40th, 50th, and the pinnacle so far, my 60th, it was amazing. Everything was done with great focus on “the other”.
In many cases me – to make my life easier! (And hers too!)
At times when I struggle with work and or career issues Sally is the one who props me up with phrases like, “I know the decision you make will be a good one! Or, “you know what to do!” When feeling financially insecure – she always said, “I always have that feeling that we are prosperous!”
When the crisis of confidence was almost too much to bear Sally listened interminably with love and encouragement!
She negotiated parenting with a conservative, strict and at times irrational father. Whenever I banned something for life she would look at me and shake her head and say: “how do you propose we manage that??”

The children had a life and now still talk to their father.

She managed the children at every level, as little ones, at school, all their sport, all their extra curricular, and social lives-the lot! At best I was a strong presence. I can’t imagine the driving she did! The discipline she managed, the long conversations she had with each child about all sorts of issues in and around growing up. The wisdom that only mums have: “when you are angry with me I know I am doing my job”.

She supported my career moves –public service, electricity industry, public service and Ernst and Young and the leap into the unknown to self-employment with confidence hope and faith. She did sack herself from some roles as an employee after some months. She suggested I do some things for myself! But she always kept us afloat! She accommodated the random decisions (selling our first home after 19 years), with great equanimity.
When we bought the Art Gallery she managed with levels of competence I could only dream about – Lawyers, accountants, artists, builders and running the events – played it all off a break!
As it turned out she was a home/gallery renovator with great style!
You know it was always the little things she did for me and her friends, that left the mark on me.(When we buy a dozen oysters to share I always get seven.) She is the best gift giver! A special card that just names it! Surprise phone calls to friends, sparklers on birthday cakes! The Christmas tree every year! The small things make her very special!
Seldom a complaint about my eccentricities, and there are many! Managing my disregard for money and anything detailed. She actually enjoys my friends and relatives! Always a positive word about them!

Our 40 years is the realisation of a dream – and a commitment “for life” we made at the start.
She is still a living mystery and that’s why I love her!
And now she is a grandma – wow! With such commitment and love – every shopping expedition is a “present buying” exercise. Baby sitting at the drop of a hat –Sydney – Salzburg –Singapore –San Jose- Canberra (FIFO) –weekly for one month!
How amazing, and you know some of our best times now are on Saturday and Sunday when we have nothing to do, we just hang out! I feel so very grateful she chose me and we have made it together. My prayer is that we have a much longer life together!
Grandpa is still a presence!
It is very easy to take heroes for granted but after 40 years we are celebrating quietly because that is her way!
On my 60th birthday one of our close friends said a few words over dinner and it went something like this:
“Ben couldn’t be Ben without Sally: and I guess the reverse is true?”
I absolutely agree with the first sentence! I am not so sure about the last one!

My belief is that Sally is a HERO!

PS After reading this Sally was moved to say the following:

1. “You are always good with words and I am always good with actions”
2. “I’m not as good as you portray me – and you are not that bad!!”

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