“Thank you, Ann, for all the things you did for me in life, from the smallest to the largest. Everything you did had meaning and I want you to know my gratitude for them.
“Thank you for keeping my clothes clean, our homes clean, yourself clean. For always being fresh and sweet smelling, always being well groomed.”Thank you for feeding me. For the preparation of so many lovely meals. For baking for me at a time when so few women bother anymore.”Thank you for worrying about me when I was having difficulties of any kind. For sympathizing with me when I was depressed.
“Thank you for your sense of humor. For making me laugh when I needed it. For making me laugh when I neither needed nor expected it but enjoyed the extra savor of it in my life. Thank you for your wry perception of our life together and the world we lived in.
“Thank you for caring for me when I was ill. For seeing to it, always, that bed and pajamas were clean, that I was well fed and had fresh juice or water to drink. That I had something to read or that the television set or radio was on or that the house was kept quiet so I could sleep. All this in addition to your other work.
“Thank you for sharing my love of music and for sharing your love of music with me. For the sharing of each other’s love of beauty and nature.
“Thank you for helping us to find the lovely way of life we had. For the furnishing and decorating and enjoying of our different homes, the opening of them to the people we knew.
“Thank you for being affectionate with my friends and loving to my family. Thank you for helping us to build so many mutual friendships.
“Thank you for being someone I was proud to be with no matter where I was or who I saw.
“Thank you for our physical relationship. For sharing your female being with me. For making the bodily part of our life so satisfying and exciting. For keeping my sexual ego intact. For enjoying my body as much as I enjoyed yours. For the warmth of your flesh on cold nights and the warmth of your love always.
“Thank you for having faith in my work and in my ultimate success. I know it wasn’t easy when there were children and bills and pressures of every kind. But you never wavered in your trust that I’d succeed and I thank you for that.
“Thank you for the memories of things we did together and with the children. Thank you for suggesting that we buy a camper for the family, for helping to bring the joys of outdoor living to me and the children. I know it will be part of their lives now as it was a part of ours. Thank you for all the lovely national parks we saw together. For Sequoia and Yosemite, Lassen and Shasta, Olympic and Mount Ranier, Glacier and Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Bryce. For Canada and all the states we camped through from coast to coast.
“Thank you for helping us to find, and for sharing with us, the pleasures of traveling to Hawaii and the South Seas, to Europe and throughout the United States. “Do you remember all our Christmases together, Ann? How we used to go out, all of us, in the camper, drive to the Y.M.C.A. lot in Reseda and pick out a tree? How we walked through aisles of bushy, pungent-smelling pine and spruce trees and chose one, laughing, voting and contending until we found one everybody liked? How we took it home and set it up and put the lights on, then the decorations and the tinsel? How we sat together, looking at it, the only sound our Christmas records playing? How we always said, each year, that that tree was the best we ever got and it was always true for us? I remember all those lovely moments and I thank you for them.
“Thank you for the memories of you and me alone together. Taking weekend trips or drives to interesting places. Shopping together. Walking. Sitting on the bench and looking at the hills at sunset. I’d put my arm around your shoulders and you’d lean against me and we’d watch the sun go down. That was contentment, Ann.
“Do you remember the sheep that used to graze on those hills? How we watched them, smiling at their constant baaing and the delicate clank of the bells around their necks? Do you remember the herds of cattle that were out there sometimes? Sweet recollections, Ann. I thank you for them.
“Thank you for the memories of watching you with birds. Watching you take care of them and heal them, give them your loving attention, year after year. Those birds are waiting for you, Ann. They love you.
“Thank you for giving me the example of your courage and tenacity in recovering from your nervous breakdown. It was a dreadful time in your life, in both our lives. The sleepless nights, the fears and uncertainties, the painful reliving of your past. The years of trying, struggling, hoping.
“Thank you for never letting those years make you surrender. For never letting the scars of your childhood make you give up your efforts to grow and strengthen yourself. And, even though I never wanted you to, thank you for doing all you could to keep me from being exposed to what you suffered during that time.
“Thank you for valuing your marriage and family so highly yet still expanding as an individual. For your desire to grow and your success at doing it.
“Do you remember going back to school? First, taking an isolated course or two, then, later, going at it more intensely until you’d earned your Associate of Arts degree, then your Bachelor’s, then started working toward a profession as an adult counselor? I was so proud of you, Ann. I wish you were still doing it. You would have made a wonderful counselor–full of empathy and love. “Thank you for our children. Thank you for providing the clean and lovely vessel of your body for the creation of their physical lives. Do you know I still remember the exact moment each of them was born? Louise at 3:07 p.m. on January 22, 1951, Richard at 7:02 a.m. on October 14, 1953, Marie at 9:04 p.m. on July 5, 1956 and Ian at 8:07 a.m. on February 25, 1959. Thank you for the joy I felt at seeing each of them for the first time–and for the joys that each has brought to my life. Thank you for teaching me to be considerate of them and respect their separate identities. Thank you for being such a fine example to our daughters and sons, showing them what’s possible in a wife and mother.
“Thank you for letting me be myself. For dealing with me as I was, not as you imagined me to be or wanted me to be. Thank you for being so compatible with my mind and my emotions. For helping me to keep my airy thoughts on earth, for being neither dominant nor passive but each as the occasion demanded. For being female and accepting what I had to offer as a male. For making me feel, always, like a man.
“Thank you for being tolerant of my failings. For neither crushing my ego nor allowing it to grow beyond the bounds of sense. For keeping, in my mind, the realization that I was a human being with responsibilities. Thank you for remaking me without ever doing it deliberately. For helping me to understand myself better. For helping me accomplish more with you than I could ever have accomplished alone.
“Thank you for encouraging me to talk about our problems, especially as the years went by. Our increasing ability to talk to each other made our marriage better and better. Thank you for helping me combine my ideas and feelings and communicate with you as a total being. Thank you for liking me as well as loving me, for being not only my wife and lover but my friend.
“Thank you for your imagination in our life. For helping me to grow in appreciation of new activities and new ideas. For making my tastes more adventuresome in all things from the least to the greatest.
“Thank you for reminding me in acts, not words, of the right things to do where others were concerned. For teaching me, by example, that sacrifice can be a positive and loving gesture. Thank you for the opportunity to mature.
“Thank you for your dependability. For always being there when I needed you. Thank you for your honesty, your values, your morality and compassion. Thank you even for the bad times between us because, in those as well, I learned to grow.
“I apologize for every time I failed you, every time I lacked the understanding you deserved. I apologize for not being patient and kind when I should have been. I apologize for all the times I was selfish and failed to see your needs. I always loved you, Ann, but, often, let you down. I apologize for all those times and thank you for making me feel stronger than I was, wiser than I was, more capable than I was. Thank you, Ann, for gracing my life with your lovely presence, for adding the sweet measure of your soul to my existence.
“I thank you, love, for everything.”