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You're Still Best Part of the Day


Very often, love, I ponder why you waited so long to marry. There must have been scores of women drawn to blue eyes and keen wit. There must have been one Mrs. Snodgrass-to-be who came close to snatching the wily bird. Whatever your reason for turning her down, I am flattered that, when you finally chose a nest mate, you liked the color of my feathers.

Although living as mated pair puts constraints on us both, it's nice to know that, at the end of a work day, with a whole sky luring you to test your wings, you fly home to me.

Love, for all the mush and drivel that has been written about it, remains as much a mystery as it did to generations of couples who lived in caves or tents, made babies, carried out the trash, and slept in the crooks of each other's arms. Whatever life brought, human mates have managed to return to the pattern and to find renewal in the woman who wore the white dress and veil, the man who proffered the ring, stuttered a bit to the direct question, then replied in a clear, manly voice, "I do."

Every time I contrast myself to the women who came before-the wives who tanned the hides, bandaged the wounds, and picked berries to stir into the evening's stew, I wonder if my modern quanderies are in any way comparable. In other words, if I had to compete with the cave women, Joan of Arcs, Rosie the riveters, Sacajaweas, or empresses of China, would I make the grade?

Nowadays, there are no bears to skin and few stew recipes that call for berries. Only the wounds remain, the everyday hurts inflicted by mechanized demands, like the traffic that creeps, the earthly jangle that interrupts our inner quiet. For more than a third of each sunspan, you are far away, battling the business jungle. On my own field of honor, I too work against time to cram eight hours' worth of work into eight hours' worth of minutes. And so we return to the nest, wearied, dissatisfied, disillusioned, but accepting how it was meant to be-a day's work done, a lifetime to tackle.

Taking an evening's rest with you, sharing what has or hasn't occurred during the day, making amends, and planning for a better tomorrow-these are the moments that seem to compose a marriage. But as Liza Minnelli's song demands,

Is that all there is?

No, indeed no. There are the myriad details that pile up like shells on the beach and needles under the fir. There are pizzas shared in one-for-you-one-for-me triangles, rectangular piles of mail sorted, read, and answered, squares of lawn seeded and fed and cut and raked, circles of plates and cups washed and dried and stacked, and zigzag paths worn from stove to fridge to washer-dryer. And sprinkled among like random shots of luminescent gold are the Christmases and birthdays, Fourth of Julys and momentary flights of fancy that have interrupted the everydayness with brief kisses, an exchange of gifts, a silly witticism.

Each time I weigh my wifely sackful of ins and outs, good times and not so good, I come up with an identical sum: On Valentine's day or any day, my sweetness, you're still the best part of the day.

Charlotte Observer
"Catawba Valley Neighbors"
February 14, 1993

 

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Mary Ellen Snodgrass Tel/Fax: (828) 324-0155