By Gretchen Wehmhoff

Early one Friday morning,  I sat in front of my computer, to upload content for Alaska Family Fun.  As my faithful, dinosaur iMac (2007 version – since upgraded) warmed up, I saw the date on the calendar icon. 

“Joe? Do you know what today is?”

“Friday, right? I have to go to work.”

“It’s our anniversary. Happy anniversary.”

“Hm. Happy anniversary.”

I went back to work uploading the weekly.

After a few hours I took a break to run an errand, stopping by McDonalds to get a $1 coffee for Joe. Later that night, when Joe returned from work, he placed a few branches of flowers and greens in the McDonalds cup. Someone was tossing out a bouquet and offered him the entire package, but he told them I liked purple and only took what he needed.

For the next few days a strand of borrowed flowers balanced in a repurposed McDonalds coffee cup decorated the table and we were content.  

In our younger days, Joe purchased or picked flowers and his mother would make a perfect arrangement for him to deliver to me at work.  Now I work at home.

During the years we had money and time, we splurged on anniversary dates at Simon and Seafort’s, but most often we worked opposite hours, making celebrations on the exact day improbable.  

Our marriage doesn’t seem to be bothered by not stopping everything for our anniversary. We both work on our birthdays, work on our anniversary and don’t seem put out. I’ve spoken with people who can’t participate in a regular event, attend class or schedule anything on their anniversary day. Some folks even take the day off work.

Maybe we should do all of that. But that isn’t who we are. For now. 

We are a typical American couple with bills, normal family dysfunction, jobs and dreams. We love small things like hanging out with our dogs, working on projects and drinking coffee together. We definitely like coffee.  

Sometimes we aren’t even in the same state or town on our anniversary. Life is in perpetual change.

I spent  three political campaigns prioritizing my state and community ahead of my family. The average citizen candidate has to practically quit work to give 100 percent of their time and energy to the job of running for office, or they must spend portions of their savings on the campaign. I chose the former, mostly because I didn’t have the latter.  

Now I am enjoying time with my husband. 

Out of the election cycle, I choose to give energy and time to my marriage. I adore the man who gave up time to build, place and remove campaign signs for three different elections; the man who did laundry and fed the dogs while I knocked on doors and attended forums; the man who washes my car by hand, carries the laundry upstairs, cleans up the dog poop and goes to work every day; the man who took up slack while I cared for my mother during her 14-year journey through Alzheimer’s and now cares for his mother on a similar journey.  

Last month was our 25th anniversary, but we couldn’t hold a party during a pandemic.  Today is his birthday and we are in the same home until I drive to Skagway next weekend. We are good. It’s who we are.

I’ll get another cup of coffee, Joe.  You pick the flowers.  

Let’s do this for eternity.