At least not yet…
Anyone reading these rambling posts over the past months will know that I have been living and trying new things. Whether they are changing me or I am doing them because I am changed is neither here nor there, but the centre of gravity has shifted.
I told my SO about how my tennis coach things I am too nice on the tennis court. I wrote about it here.
“She just doesn’t know you very well,” she deadpanned.
“But I am nice,” I protested.
“I’d like to meet you then,” she said. And thus teased, she has kept at it. “Where is the new nicer you?” she has asked from time to time over the past few days. And of course I have pointed me out, when deserving of such.
I told my wife and children about how my personality type has changed. You can read about that here. My kids had good sport with me for taking a “personality test.” A concept they found very amusing. Since my wife used to have the same profile, and mine has changed, they have all agreed to submit themselves to the same test, but not after much merry-making at my expense.
As a family we sat down to dinner with my father in law, “nonno”, a true patriarch. At one point during dinner I half stood and half knelt and brought my hands half between my SO and my heart, and said to him, “thank you for your part in creating and raising the most incredible woman I have met, the woman I love, the mother of my children, this beautiful, beautiful person sitting here,” and tears came to my eyes as I said it, and tears to her eyes. We toasted to that.
After, as we got into the car, I said to my children that it’s possible that this could be the last time they see their grandfather. That they should take the time to say things that they appreciate about him, but of course without making him think of his own mortality.
“Say something to him that will make you feel good about yourself when you are an adult—that you were graceful to him without being forced.”
“Is that why you said what you said about Mama.”
“No, that just came out all of a sudden. I wasn’t thinking about that.”
“Is that why you cried Papa?” asked one.
“I love your mother very much,” I said.
“But you cried,” he said.
“Yeah. It’s good to cry. You can’t even fool yourself when you cry.”
Well, my wife told me as she took me into her arms later that night how much she loved me. It has been a steady string of “I love you’s,” coming from her to me.
The day after I got home, I had told her that I realised that her love for me is what enabled me to grow up and shake loose my self-destructive behaviour. That her love for me saved me from myself, but it just took a while. We remembered what a challenge I was when we first met, how I had had to push her away until I knew for sure she was going to stick with me.
“It’s my Catholic conservatism,” she said.
“Whatever it is,” I replied, but thinking it was true. She chose me, and that choice, and the gradual discovery of its solidity, is what made it possible for me to choose her, to be as solid and committed to her as she to me.
Am I nicer? The next time she says “I love you,” I’ll have to ask.