It’s the Little Things That Trip You Up and Lift You Up


Before we met, I dated enough good men and enough skudzoids to know what I looked for in a life mate, so on on that fateful January night so many years ago when Eros was in such a jolly good mood and nudged us in the direction of each other with his arrow, I was ready. In the beginning there was the love of freedom that comes from being launched into the world as independent young adults. There as the love of newness that comes with new jobs, new relationship, new domicile. There was the love of each other, undoubtedly based more on pleasing appearances than anything else, given the short time we’d known each other. But through the potholes and detours that are inevitably encountered on any journey, through births and deaths, through prosperity and leanness, through agreement and disagreement, I’ve grown to know and love – deeply love – your soul.

As your handwriting shows, you are a man who takes his time about things, being sure before committing, taking pains to make sure you’re understood. What you lack in patience for other drivers – especially the Floridian drivers who spend their summers here on the curvy mountainous roads (in front of you, more often than not) – you make up for in kindness. Remember those two puppies we rescued from the pound the first year we were out of an apartment in in our own home? I can still see you sitting there in the grass on that ridiculously hilly backyard, a pudgy brown and black puppy wiggling in each arm. When one got sick and had to be euthanized, you asked me to tend to that because it was something you simply weren’t able to do.

I couldn’t help but notice early-on that you are quite literal, a way of being undoubtedly learned both from training and from example, and this black-and-white way of seeing the world, this orderly linearity way of proceeding is at times annoying, at times exasperating, and at times, I must say, actually quite reassuring and useful. For years I took those irritating follow-up questions you ask me I tell you a perfectly fine story, as one-upmanship, behavior I’ve long attributed to you being raised in a family that values math and science more than the sun and stars. Then one day – not too long ago, actually – I vowed for the zillionth time to never waste a perfectly good and well-told story on you ever again, when from out of nowhere comes a resounding thwack, and I realized that you’re not scolding or belittling, you’re not criticizing or poking fun – quite the contrary. You’re listening to me. I wouldn’t go so far as to say you’re hanging onto my every word (far too many times I can see you there, your eyes glazing over as I talk), but you do listen more often than I’ve given you credit for.

You’re a man who notices the little things, my husband. Why if I had a nickel for every four-leaf clover you’ve found, you’d be sipping a drink while patiently waiting for me to post this from a cruise ship in some exotic part of the world. When we go for walks, I look for a safe place to land my foot while you find the most marvelous surprises – leaves turned lacy in their act of decaying, eggshells left behind after the hatching, heart-shaped rocks, and yes, of course: four-leaf clovers.

Over the years, we’ve used that iron skillet to prepare nourishment for ourselves, our family, and our friends, but never as a weapon against each other. You are one of the most understanding, supportive men I’ve ever been lucky enough to know. You’ve taught me what healthy relationships look like, what true-grain love feels like. Sometimes we’ve experienced seasoning simultaneously and sometimes individually, but we’ve never grown away and left the other. I remember thinking it impossible to love you any more than I did back in that fresh, newness of youthful love, but tonight, though I have no standard of measurement that will satisfy your engineer’s brain, I tell you anyway that I now love you more. I now love you for more than just your fetching countenance. I love you for all the little things that are the beauty of your soul.

Happy birthday, Andy.



  1. Sera Bishop

    Happy, happy birthday, Andy!!! 

    Thank you for sharing these glorious memories with us, Jeanne. Your love brought tears to my eyes, in the best of ways. 🙂 

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you, Sugar. Andy and I were talking about the tall ships festival just yesterday and what fun we had being with you. Hope you’re doing well. And congratulations on the full-time status!

  2. ☆little light☆

    The grace of love 
    of loving without expectation to outcome.
    Happy birthday ANDY…
    and many more…

    • whollyjeanne

      you have this delightful way of getting right to the heart of things, sugar. that’s how your little light shines – that’s one way it shines, anyway. xo

  3. Meredith

    A very happy birthday to Andy! And what a beautiful love story you’ve woven here!

  4. angelakelsey

    Belated happy birthday, Andy!

  5. Janecunningham

    what love….

  6. Merry ME

    I so love to read your tributes to those you love. Sounds like you were lucky even before the clovers. 

    • whollyjeanne

      Oh Sugar, thank you for stopping by and gifting me with your kind, supportive words. I’m woefully behind on so much . . . including your words and your space. But I haven’t forgotten – does that count a teensy bit?

      • Merry ME

        WJ, I’m woefully behind in doing the simple tasks you asked of me and not even sure where to find them. I have moved away from my desk into another room. I thought it was for convenience but truth be told I like being away from the clutter, though if you saw the table next to me you’d wonder what I’m talking about! Please don’t worry yourself about my mess. 

        • whollyjeanne

          Oh Sugar, I’m not worried at all. I am honored you asked, and actually, this is the kind of thing I enjoy doing. haven’t ever done it long distance, but we can do it, I’m sure. I don’t function well in the midst of clutter. I just don’t. My theory is that everything throws off some type of energy and that with clutter there’s a cacophony of energy that keeps me from being able to settle down and create. I have papers stored in pretty boxes. Some of the boxes I’ve purchased at Target or office supply stores, some I’ve created from other boxes, decorating the exterior in collage or paint – changing their exterior appearance to something that makes me smile when I see it instead of groan. Lids are important for me, too.
          Lately I’ve taken to purchasing old suitcases at thrift shops (usually around $5-$10 each for larger ones). I’ve gotten some interesting suitcases from the 40s and 50s, and I fill them with projects or papers or supplies and stack them up. I look at the suitcases and immediately smile at the memory and the thrill of the find. When I eventually build my studio, I plan to have a wall of cubbies, each specially designed to hold a suitcase so I don’t have to lift them all to get to a particular case. Would either of these ideas work for you? Do they spark something? I find that with clutter, I’m definitely an out-of-sight-out-of-mind girl. I know it’s there, but if I can’t see it, I don’t fret over it. Plus I find it’s easer for me to tackle various projects because I’m pulling out one at a time instead of feeling overwhelmed.
          I don’t know about you, but I also find I like and need to be surrounded by various little items, souvenirs, tangible sticky note reminders – things that make me smile, relax, remember. For the book I’m working on now, I have a little sculpture (remind me to send you a photo), a candle (I always have light a candle before I start to write), and some cotton in a vase I bought on a trip. Those things form a half moon around my computer and somehow hold the space for me. Do you have special things that you’d like to be able to touch or gaze upon before, during, or after you’re writing?
          I also have a sign that’s always within sight. It’s something I saw painted on the wall in an artist studio I once visited: Discipline is remembering what you want. Those words in that particular order help keep me focused and on track.
          I know everybody is different, and I can only tell you what I’ve found, through trial and error, works for me.Do any of these things spark something in you? Do any of these things make you smile, feel like they would support you as you write?

  7. Mrsmediocrity

    Aw, this is just wonderful. And just the way love should be.

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you, Sugar. Have you felt hugged lately? I sure have been thinking about you, missing your beautiful words as I trekked up and down the road, morning till almost-morning again. Things are slowing down a bit, and I look forward to catching up. You and your photos and your words always restore me. xo

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