This story was written in November of 1998. The theme this week was "Treasure". This is not one of my favorites. Seemed to me to lack any real punch.
"Hey Mike look what I found in Mom’s chest. Its like something a flashback of that old movie Bridges of Madison County." Sarah said holding up a couple of yellowing pieces of paper.
"What is it?"
"Its a letter Dad wrote to Mom before he died. It was part of what her will told us to read"
"Well read it then," Mike said.
Sarah read it as Mike looked over her shoulder.
Its the eve of our 50th anniversary, something that for a long time I never thought would happen. We’ve had our share of problems over the years my dear but largely due to your patience and just plain stubbornness we made it to this point.
I want to write this so you’ll know just how I feel now and how even in the worst of times I still loved you. I guess our worst period, at least in my view was just before our 20th anniversary. I know you’ve long since apologized for your part in my unhappiness at that point.
I was at a point in my life where I wanted to find something more. I thought something was missing from my life. I was sure of it. I didn’t feel like an effective husband or lover and when I had the chance to find out if it was me you know I took it. And again a few months later I spent time with another friend.
When I told you after that you were so understanding and supportive. I thought then that you would make the changes I wanted you to make and when you didn’t I got angry and stayed that way for a long time. You wanted your turn to see what it was like with somebody else and I could not say no.
For a while we explored that. Together yet each on a different path. I learned a lot, I got hurt a lot. You helped me through it and still I got angry when you did not give me what I wanted and thought I had to have. I know I caused us a lot of grief. I know you were trying your best within the limits of who you were. Eventually we gave that up, settling back into each other.
I tried so hard to find what I thought I was missing through others. I made friends and some of them were lovers. Almost all of them went by the wayside. Most of the time I drove them away. I realize that now. The same attitude that never quite drove you away drove all the others away. That should have told me something right there. They were the false gold at the end of the rainbow. Glittering gems that turned out to be worthless. They caused
me such heart ache the friends and lovers alike. I made very few real friends I see. Yet there were some.
One you know has stuck with me all these years. Still writing faithfully even though we’ve not been together in person for almost 20 years. I nearly left you then after 30 years to chase a foolish dream. She proved herself a real friend doing one of the hardest things she ever did and not letting me do it. It nearly cost me that friendship but she like you persevered and has now remarried and is as happy as you and I.
The kids grew up and moved out and we grew together. At times we’ve still had our differences. But since that time 20 years ago I’ve not strayed my love. Oh you share my heart with another but you’ve know that for years and you know well there is enough love there for you. It still makes my heart leap with joy when I hear you’ve told somebody how much I love you.
Our friends all say we’re the perfect couple and maybe they’re right but if they only knew what went into it! Well my love we have our secrets you and I but we also have our love. I’ve learned to accept you the way you are and you have done the same for me. We rarely fight anymore. We’re comfortable with each other and in our love for each other.
My love this is hard for me. I know I’m dying. You know I’m dying. Yet you’re bearing up well. The kids will help you and be there for you. I want you to know that I realize after all those years of digging for treasure trying to find the key to make me happy. After all the times I was with somebody else in search of something you were perfectly willing to give me yourself, I want you to know that I am very well aware that I know now that my own
life’s treasure was in my own back yard all along. You’re the gem that brings fire to my night, the gold that lights my days. Never think for a minute that whatever I did or whoever I was with that I ever loved you any the less. Its a pity to finally realize where my treasure was but its nice to finally know too.
All my love my dear wife, happy 50th anniversary and thank you for giving me your life.
Your loving husband.
"Wow" Mike said as they finished.
"Yeah" Sarah sniffled.
"I never had a clue there was anybody but Mom" Mike said.
"Really? I knew, I even talked to mom and she said she knew but had to let him find his own way. I’m just glad they got where they got before he died." Sarah said. "I know mom wanted us both to read this to hit home the message she always tried to teach, your greatest treasure is in your own backyard"