Thirty four years ago, a vision in white, supported on her father’s arm, seemingly floated down the aisle of the church to where I stood, stomach in knots. I never believed I could ever feel such love and joy for anyone as I did that day, with my heart wanting to burst out of my chest.
One wouldn’t think it at all possible, but that love grows and matures and, if at all possible, increases over time. I know all my wife’s little foibles and faults and more likely than not, love her even more for them. The laugh lines, the creases which are going to be wrinkles, there is nothing about her I would change.
Billy Joel put it best: I love you just the way you are.
And we are friends, more importantly. We can spend an evening together, reading or talking, sometimes arguing or even fighting, but there is no-one I would rather spend my time with than her.
We are both voracious readers and she is incredibly witty and often makes me laugh out loud with the absurd things she says. She is scared of spiders and mice, but loves frogs. And as scared as she is of spiders, she will fish them out of the pool when they fall in.
In addition to all this, she’s given me two marvellous sons, the kind of sons most people can only dream of. Brilliant, erudite, witty and voracious readers. This is going somewhere, by the way.
In April, my older son came out from Canada and I had a chance to hold my grandson for the first time, and the upswelling of love is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Here was this little three-month old baby I was seeing for the first time, and I cannot say he’s beautiful. That would be an understatement that would make an Englishman proud.
He is the most contented, happy little boy I’ve ever known, and wakes up in the morning, smiling and making his little baby noises. He lies on his back, looking at all these new things in his new surroundings, putting out his tongue and blowing little baby raspberries. He’s begun to laugh, and there is nothing quite as beautiful or musical as a baby’s laugh.
Every day, I would take him for a walk around the garden, holding him so he was facing forward and able to see everything. I think he’s going to have a permanent bald spot on the back of his head from my constant kissing as I carried him.
We went to the zoo one day, and the highlight for him, was the stand of bamboo near the Ape House. He couldn’t take his eyes off it.
We went to the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, and he was enraptured by the waterfall. We had the good fortune of seeing the Black Eagles soaring and dipping as they managed to find a thermal current, which carried them higher and higher. He just looked at the waterfall. He was absolutely smitten.
At the end of April they went back to Canada, leaving me with a hole in my heart that cannot be filled. Love is the most astonishing of all gifts: there is no end to it. It does not seem possible that we can love so many people so much and so differently.
How do I compare my love for my wife with that I have for my sons? I can’t and don’t. How do I compare the love I have for my two sons, who are so different? Then there’s my daughter-in-law, whom I love as if she were my own daughter.
And then there’s darling little Caspian. The love is different because it’s so protective in nature, but it is also filled with all the joys only a baby can bring. The smell of Caspian is ambrosia to me, and fills my mind as well as my olfactory glands.
The joy I felt when he was born has been completely overshadowed by the joy of holding him and playing with him, making him smile and laugh and just being a great big fool for this precious little boy.
Is he truly beautiful, or is it bias? I think he is truly beautiful. We have been stopped in shopping centres and comments made about what a beautiful baby he is. Of course it helps that he has such a lovely nature.
The hole he’s left in my heart can only be filled by him, but it’s matched by the hole in my wife’s heart, which gives us comfort of a sort, because together we can, and will make the effort to go to Canada and spend time with them.
There is no more precious gift than family and friends, and there can be no greater crime than neglecting them for the sake of a career or sport or any pastime that can pull you away. Treasure them while you have them, they won’t be there forever, or perhaps you won’t.
Show them you love them, and tell them frequently. No-one ever got tired of hearing the words, ‘I love you.’