Today is the 25th anniversary of the day on which Agnes and I were married in our local registry office (Standesamt) in Berlin, Germany. Our witnesses were my friend Ken and Agnes's friend Andrea, and Agnes's daughter Yasmin (now my adopted daughter) was our flower girl and overall supervisor. It was a beautiful fall morning and the service, performed by a local registry official (Beamterin) was very nice. Because Ken and I were Americans, she insisted on performing the entire service in both German and English (unnecessary, as both Ken and I spoke German, but rules are rules, and I suppose she wanted to make sure I really understood what I was getting into).
The road to that moment began on a Berlin street about seven months before, when I was trying to maneuver my big American car into a European-sized parking place. I had just about gotten myself lined up when a little orange Opel Rekord came zipping out of nowhere, cut me off, and deftly slid into my parking place. As I sat there looking on in frustrated disbelief, a young woman hopped out of the car, grinned and waved, and disappeared into the building that was my destination. As luck would have it, a parking place opened up moments later about a block ahead, and I managed to park my Strassenkreuzer. I hiked into the building and as I rounded the turn of the stairwell to the apartment I was visiting for a party, the door was open and my friend Jeri, the hostess, was just welcoming...the woman who had just stolen my parking place! The lady and I traded dagger-glances, and Jeri looked from one of us to the other and asked innocently, "Oh...have you two met?" "In a manner of speaking," I replied.
The aggressive parking place filcher was, of course, Agnes. We got to know each other at the party, began dating not long afterward, and ended up in the Standesamt on the morning of September 15th, 1982. It was my revenge...she hasn't stolen a parking place from anyone since.
In the last 25 years (that's a quarter of a century, gasp!) I have learned many things and had many adventures, but not once have I regretted the step I took on that September morning. Agnes and I agree on most things (but not everything, of course), and she's always there kicking me in the fanny when I get my attacks of procrastination. It's said that behind every successful man is a woman pushing like hell, and that's certainly true of us...much of what I've accomplished, I've accomplished because she helped me overcome my natural inertia to get it done.
We now have between us three wonderful and successful children, four fabulous grandchildren, and all the physical and emotional bruises that come along with them...but I wouldn't trade any of it for anything. If it weren't for Agnes, I would never on my own have signed up for ballroom dance lessons, much less gotten to the point where I would actually compete (and win) in ballroom competitions. I probably wouldn't have developed into a passable gourmet chef without her gentle (sometimes not-so-gentle) prodding. And I certainly wouldn't have had the travel and adventures in German culture I've enjoyed without her.
As I look forward to the next 25 years, I can only hope that others will find their lives as happy and enriched through the choice of the right partner as I've found mine.
Oh, yes...Agnes is happy, too. She's found someone who can chop onions, kill marauding bugs, and retrieve items from the shelves she can't reach. Maybe I was a bargain after all.
Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts tomorrow.