Many positive words can describe my precious husband: kind, persistent, tolerant, loving, faithful, humble, honest, generous, wise. He has often said that the character trait that has helped him to achieve the most is perseverance–as he pursued me, his Ph.D., professional speaking, and, of course, God.
But one of his prominent characteristics is being cautious. I’m sure his caution has saved our lives at times, though exasperating at others. When a traffic light turns green, he still looks both ways before pulling into the intersection. More than once, as a speeding car runs the red light, I realize that he saved us from being hit. He always drives defensively, sometimes making me impatient that he won’t just take off.
He was cautious about asking me out when we were at Lipscomb University together. We sat beside each other in chapel and three classes, but he kept checking me out, not sure whether he wanted to date me or not. (I was equally uncertain about him.) Glad that one worked out.
He is cautious about money. When he was at the university, he had extra funds taken out of his pay check to put into savings and invested elsewhere as well. I often felt that we needed that money for the family, but he did not. Now I am happy for his monetary caution because that extra has added greatly to our retirement income.
Even though he is cautious, he is still generous. When approached by panhandlers downtown, he will talk to them about their situations. If the man seems to be truly in need of food, he will take him to a nearby fast food restaurant and buy him lunch. Sometimes he gives a dollar to everyone who asks; at other times he introduces himself and asks questions first. He is always cautious, even in his generosity.
He is more cautious than I am in the kitchen. I have cut myself several times over the years, but he usually doesn’t. Last year he bought a new grater and it was so sharp that he cut a chunk out of his knuckle and bled profusely. After that he refused to use that grater. So this year his son and daughter-in-law gave him a special glove to wear so he won’t cut himself when grating cheese or anything else. Another opportunity to be cautious!
He was always cautious with our children and now with our grandchildren. He hovers, he cautions, he protests, when he thinks they are doing anything remotely dangerous, such as climbing on anything or running in the house or church building. When Josh was little, he wouldn’t let him own a football–not even a Nerf one. He didn’t want to take a chance on his son wanting to play football, which certainly can be dangerous. I’d never even considered playing football to be avoided until I met him. Now, after hearing his opinion on football for over fifty years, I’ve come over to his side. Football is dangerous, at any age.
He is cautious about his words. He will go away in silence instead of saying something he might regret. Even when he knows he needs to talk to someone about a problem situation, he cautiously waits for just the right moment to bring up the delicate issue. I get impatient, saying, “Haven’t you talked to him yet?” But his caution often pays off.
He is cautious about climbing ladders, and especially about me climbing ladders, short or tall. He is cautious about walking on dark streets at night, though not about jogging on our dark streets in the wee hours of the morning in our small town. He does our laundry and never uses bleach for anything for fear of ruining something.
When leaving home for a business appointment, he always allows extra time “just in case there’s a traffic problem on the way.” Cautious, yes. But when we are going to other functions, he cuts it so close we are often late. Sometimes I think he starts getting ready at the time we should be leaving.
And yet even when he tries to be cautious, it doesn’t always work. Getting food on ties and on pants, for example, is a constant problem for him. He sometimes puts a towel across his lap when eating, just to avoid ruining his pants. He tucks his tie into his shirt to keep from getting food on it. He takes every precaution to direct his food from his plate to his mouth, and yet all around his seat and in his lap is a sprinkling of crumbs and food particles.
He salts food with great flair, flinging it dramatically over the food and at the same time spreading it all around the table or countertop. Where is that cautious man then?
I do not share his cautious nature; I am more likely to jump into anything before evaluating. (Confession: I’ve had more wrecks and speeding tickets than he has, though none at all in the last six years. I’m learning.)
But I think we are a good balance. He signals me not to speak; I urge him to speak up. I order escargot and love it; he is willing to take my word for it. He tells me to slow down; I pull over and let him drive. He supplies money to those in need; I write the checks. See how it works?
After two years of courtship and 49 years, 5 months, and 3 days of marriage, we’re finally working it all out. I’ve cautiously considered him and his nature, and made a decision. He’s a keeper.