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By Staff | Mar 11, 2016

We are fast approaching the vernal equinox, a day when everyone on earth has equal access to the same amount of sunshine. The first official day of spring marks the moment when the northern hemisphere turns its face toward the sun and embraces the warm new season.

The first day of spring is extra special at our house. Thirty-five years ago, on the eve of the vernal equinox, my wife and I stood at the front of a church full of people and pledged each other our troth.

There have been many times in my life when I have been lucky. But I was blessed with an uncommonly large dose of good fortune when I married my wife.

The past 35 years haven’t exactly been a joyride. Our lives have been more similar to jostling along on a rickety old rollercoaster than a soothing cruise in a new Cadillac.

We began our marriage as young and financially struggling dairy farmers. Despite the huge odds that were stacked against me, I was able to grab this dire situation by the throat and somehow manage to make things even worse.

Many farmers will recall the mid-1980s farm crisis as a time when interest rates reached heights often associated with low earth orbit. Thanks to my financial wizardry, we were deepest in debt when skyrocketing interest rates reached their apex.

A lesser woman would have given up. A lesser woman than my wife may have adopted an attitude of, “You bozo! This is YOUR mess!”

But not my wife. Her unfailing support throughout our entire farming career was a source of comfort that was as dependable as the rising sun.

A colossal change that occurred soon after we wed was our transformation from young and carefree honeymooners to young and harried parents.

Like all of our major financial decisions, having kids was something that just sort of happened. Becoming parents didn’t involve a rational cost/benefit analysis.

Phrases such as “actionable ideation” and “disruptive dynamic synergism” were never part of our vocabulary.

Nothing changes your life more than having kids. I watched in astounded amazement as my wife took up the mantle of motherhood, transforming overnight from a hip young chick to an authoritative mom.

All I knew about raising babies was what I had learned from rearing baby calves. My hard-won baby care knowledge began and ended with a few inescapable rules.

For example, I knew that babies have to be kept warm and well-fed and must be treated promptly should they come down with the scours.

I knew precious little regarding such child-rearing minutia as whether or not it’s OK for the baby to put twigs up his nose or use the cat’s tail as a teething aid.

Despite my “help,” both of our boys grew up to be exemplary young men.

“You have such nice sons!” is a complement that often reaches our ears, and I am quick to point out that my bride deserves much of the credit.

On second thought, she deserves all of it.

Many will say of their significant others, “He (or she) saved my life!” For most folks, that sentiment is simply a metaphor which illustrates the depth of their feelings.

But for me, that statement is the literal truth.

In the midst of our seventh year of marriage, I entered a manure pit and was overcome by toxic fumes. Soon after I was pulled unconscious from the pit, my wife was told of the accident and informed that it was unlikely I would survive.

She was essentially being told that, at age 29, she was about to become a widow with two young sons.

A lot of women might have fallen apart. But not my wife.

She openly challenged some of the conclusions that were being reached by the medical authorities.

More than once, when she didn’t agree with the way my treatment was proceeding, she insisted that the doctors try something else.

More than once, her insistence made the difference between me living or dying.

I owe my wife a debt that I can never repay. But I plan to spend the rest of my days on earth trying.

Back when my wife and I were both teenagers, there was a love song by The Carpenters that became so popular that it was sung at approximately a billion weddings.

While it wasn’t used at ours, I still feel that it’s appropriate.

Because after 35 vernal equinoxes together, it seems as if my bride hasn’t aged more than a day or so. I bask in the warmth of her smile every morning and can’t help but think, “We’ve only just begun!”

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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