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Happy birthday, Love! (#1259)

Topics/tags: Autobiographical

Today is Michelle’s birthday [1]. She’s 59. I don’t quite understand how that works since her mother was always 29. But I guess that’s how things go. Let’s start with the most important thing, the good wishes!

Happy birthday, Love!

We’ve been married for more than thirty-six years. We were engaged for a bit before that. It’s debatable whether or not we dated before getting engaged [2,3]. I feel so fortunate to be married to this incredible, beautiful, thoughtful, intelligent, generous, passionate woman.

We’re at the stage of life in which we don’t need most physical gifts. And a variety of issues make it difficult to give some experiential gifts, such as meals out, shows, or trips. So I thought I’d try a riff on Elton John’s Your Song.

My gift is my ’blog, and this one’s for you.

That is, I’m devoting this musing to some thoughts about the love of my life. Of course, I lack the skills in writing and the depth of thought to make a proper tribute. Nonetheless, I will do the best I can.

I’m selfish (or at least self-centered), so I’ll start by noting that she’s made me a much better human being. She’s encouraged me to try things I wouldn’t have done on my own. For example, I wouldn’t have taken the one-course job at Dartmouth if she hadn’t pushed me to do so. She’s helped me consider so many things from a new direction. She’s convinced me to revisit my priorities and restructure my work-life balance. Of course, she’s been less successful at getting me to make appropriate progress on my health and my hoarding tendencies, but these characteristics would likely have been much worse without her.

She’s also been a fantastic partner. We’ve done so many things well together, drawing on our different strengths and sense of mutual goals [6]. Most importantly, we’ve successfully raised three wonderful young men. Although they tell us we did some things wrong, such as giving them a very different sense of gender roles than their peers seem to have received [7], I think we made the right decisions and we’d make them again.

I hear from her patients [8] how generous, kind, and thoughtful she was with them. I can’t remember most of the stories. I can’t even hope to try. But I regularly heard (and hear) how she spent extra time with patients at times of need, how she listened carefully to their concerns. While she never shared details about her patients, the way she talked about them and the frustrations I heard when the medical system got in the way always let me know how much she prioritized making a difference to people, particularly to people not served well by our system.

I expect most people don’t pay attention to or don’t know about all of her accolades. Here are a few: She was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha national honor society as a medical student [9]. She’s a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Practice. A few years ago, she earned an MBA so that she could better run her practice. We like to joke that she’ll always have more initials after her name than the rest of us. She also has a few journal articles to her name, some on genetics and at least one on public health.

She doesn’t always show it publicly, but she’s creative. A poem she wrote while in medical school was assigned to classes nationwide. When she has time (not often enough) she’s done some nice projects with knitting and woodworking. I expect if she had more time, she’d do more.

What did I say above? Let’s see … incredible, beautiful, thoughtful, intelligent, generous, passionate woman. I’ve covered intelligent. I’ve covered thoughtful and generous, particularly with regard to her patients. Beautiful? You need only look at her to know. Passionate? I’ve discussed her passion for making a difference. We’ll leave other passions as private. Putting those things together, it seems evident that she’s incredible.

I am so fortunate to be married to this remarkable woman. And people are fortunate to know her and have her as a friend, colleague, or physician.

Happy birthday, Michelle! I love you so much!

[1] Yesterday, she had the privilege of saying one of our favorite family statements: Tomorrow’s my birthday.

[2] Is it an arranged marriage if your mutual friends arrange it?

[3] We were unofficially engaged on 18 January 1986. Neither Michelle nor I remember exactly when we were officially engaged [4]. We got married on 29 August 1987 [5].

[4] I was worried that this was a special date that I’d forgotten. I feel a bit better that she’s forgotten, too.

[5] Of course, for the first decade we were married, I was better at remembering our wedding date than she was.

[6] Yes, Michelle, I know I’m not always good at discussing our goals. But many of them emerge naturally.

[7] For example, I was more likely to cook and shop. She was more likely to mow the lawn. But we grew up at a time in which gender roles seemed to be breaking down, and we did not support standard gender roles.

[8] At this point, ex-patients.

[9] I think of that as the medical school equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa.

Version 1.0 released 2023-12-03.

Version 1.0.1 of 2023-12-03.