She and I – On the occasion of her birthday


She remembers things like where we bought the Maple Tea that came in the small wooden box with the intricate sliding lid. I said I didn’t know when we bought it, but that we picked it up someplace in Montana. She says it was in May, 2011, while passing through Niagara-On-The-Lake, and that we bought it for our youngest son and his girlfriend.

She remembers what we were doing and where we were when our niece’s baby was born. I remember to check the fridge before shopping.

She reads, despite my bookish appearance, more than I do, and much faster. She reads texts with titles like, Energy Psychology,” “Born to Love,” “When the Body says No,” and “Quantum Consciousness.” She reads with a pencil in hand. I read, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” or Nicholson Baker’s, “A box of matches,” while stretched out on the couch.

She studies texts—many texts about brain theory and natural medicine and permaculture. I study the ceiling, the mould on cheese, and trees. Especially poems about trees.

She likes Anne Wilson Schaef, Bruce Alexander, Gabor Maté and Elizabeth Wheatley. She also has an entire library of Enneagram books, knows the nine personalities intimately. When I become silent I think I feel her analyse me. So I try to be talkative, which doesn’t work for me unless I’ve had a lot of Merlot. In an emergency I’ll turn on Netflix and watch “Breaking Bad.”

She loves her staff, works very hard to support them; she freely offers herself, her knowledge, and her hard-won wisdom. I no longer have staff. But I quite like my colleagues. I did have a German Shepherd pup when I was twelve.

She meets with important people, government people, administrative people who make important decisions. I’m quite sure she says wise things that people respect.

She is a good person to have on a committee. She likes teams. I do not. I will lie to get out of a committee.

She is compassionate. I seek attention. I see her walk through a scrum of homeless people to get to her office. Many say Hi! wave and smile when they see her. I survey and stand guard from within the car.

She has studied narrative therapy, has her Masters, and continues to read and gain knowledge in her discipline; I understand from others that she is a very good counsellor. I am actually a better cook than her.

She makes lists. I use my memory (I know we bought something in Montana). Lists have allowed her to catalogue every Agatha Christie novel so as not to miss reading any. Also, she has not missed an episode of Midsomer Murders. Mostly, her lists have saved me time and at least one pair of shoes.

She keeps things. I leave them behind. She keeps fragments from broken punch bowls; in the summer I see colourful shards decorating her garden boxes. I break punch bowls.

She regularly finishes Sudoku puzzles 15 minutes ahead of me. I beat her handily at Scrabble…one time. She has a knack for puzzles, I am knackless, and I’ve already told you about my dog.

She has fresh and sometimes original ideas. These come through her ability to synthesis what she has read and apply it to her vocation. I am neither fresh nor original. The idea for this scribbling came from an old essay by Natalia Ginzberg called “He and I.” 

She does things. I think about them. She moves. I mull. She grows tomatoes. I grow nails. She sends hand written greeting cards to distant aunts and uncles. I thought about doing that.

She comes home after a long work day. I make her the kind of dinner that a good cook can make.

She tells me of her day. I listen. She has good stories. But sometimes, in the exhilaration of detail, she can go on.

She always asks me about my day. She is considerate that way. She asks me open-ended, narrative, feeling questions. I sum up.

She has turned another year older today. My anticipation of another year with her is eclipsed only by my desire to see our time together stretch out like a Venusian sunrise. I have lucked out.



  1. I really enjoyed your writing today! What a tribute to Debbie; she’s a rare jewel. Wish her “Happy Birthday” from Clarence and me.

  2. I laughed. I cried. I was grateful for the differences in my own marriage I didn’t appreciate at the time. Mostly I cried that I don’t have anyone to help remove a sliver of glass from the bottom of my foot. May many more years bring more joy and luck to you both and more posts like this to the rest of us.

  3. This is a beautiful post Stephen. The beauty of relationships like your relationship is it points as much to the differences that are important to their success.

    Take care and many more for Deb and you.


  4. Vive la difference – the zing and the zang of the yin and the yang of love. Wonderful reflection on living and loving it.

  5. Dad, this is SOOOO great!!! Really moving, and I LOLed at least a few times… I remember watching Matlock.. (or was it Murder She Wrote? Probably both..) with Deb back in the day, and she always knew whodunit within like 10 minutes of the hour long show… I still dont know how she was able to do this.. Half of me resented her spoiling the end, and half of me eagerly hoped she’d be wrong…. wrong at least once.. she never was.

  6. What a beautiful tribute to a fine woman, and to a marriage! As I read your words, I kept saying to myself: “Drat! I wish I’d known Deb better when I lived in Edmonton. What an interesting person!” Have you published a collection of your essays in book form yet, Stephen? I want to know.

  7. That was wonderful, Stephen Thomas, and like Michael, I thought it was very funny! Happy belated, Deb. I actually recall that I first met you at Caronport on the third floor of Whitaker Hall when you were there to visit Randy. I do not remember the exact time of day but have narrowed the year down to two! 😉

  8. Thanks to everyone for your beautiful greetings and kind remarks! It’s been a lovely time of celebration and each of you have added to it.

  9. Happy birthday to Deb!
    And, thanks Steve, very enjoyable, but ….
    … Erika says to me, “Now you write me something for my birthday”
    …(thanks a lot….)

  10. Finally came around to reading this! Love this post Dad, made me laugh and ‘Amanda and I’ relate way to much to the Sudoku part of it…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *