It’s time to celebrate my wonderful wife’s birthday. That means it’s today, January 4. When Janae and I got engaged, my Mother asked her when her birthday was. Before she really had a chance to answer, my Mother said that Janae could not be born in January since I and the next two brothers were all born in January; me on the 31st, Chris on the 8th and Matt on the 3rd. (April must have been a very good month for my parents! Ugh, you’re not supposed to think that about your parents – Gross!!) When my Mother learned that Janae’s birthday was also in January, she threw up her hands in despair, or something like that.
Well I’m glad she was born in January. Actually I would have been glad that she was born in any month because she has blessed my life immeasurably.
It’s a wonder we ever got married though. As many of you know, when we first met I thought she was a boring, book worm and she thought I was a rich, stuck-up snob. I’m not sure where she got the rich part from but the stuck-up snob part wasn’t too far off the mark. We both remember an incident that helped cement the “snob” part. I had just come from the testing center where I had failed miserably on an exam. I ran into her in the McKay building (is that right Honey?) and she asked me how I was doing. I was so bummed out over the exam that I basically brushed her off. How rude of me!!
(The picture - she's definitely not boring!)
Added to my disinterest in her was the fact that Jason, her brother, and his friends would sit in my Gospel Doctrine class and play “devil’s advocate” which drove me crazy. Well of course she was guilty just by association. Oh, and the fact that she sat in my class holding hands with her boyfriend didn’t help. Why I don’t know as I had a girlfriend at the time.
Of course I thought she was a beautiful, talented young woman but her intellect and circle of friends, plus the fact that I had a girlfriend at Rick’s kept us apart that first year we met.
Well the Lord works in mysterious ways. While I was in Mexico on a study abroad program, the girl I had been dating got engaged and Janae had broken up with her boyfriend. That fall I remember sitting in Sacrament Meeting when she and her sister-in-law to be, Pauline, sang in church. I was entranced. Right then I decided that she wasn’t that bad and maybe I should ask her out.
Call me a coward, but it took all the courage I could muster just to call and ask her out. I figured that she would never say yes but being the rash young man that I was, I took a chance. I’ll be forever grateful that I did.
The saga of working out the details of our first date – the Homecoming Dance – is a story in and of itself but suffice it to say, we had a great time. The dance was at the Capital building. I remember as we approached the steps of the Capital, Janae looked at me and said, “I’ll race you to the top.” I’ve been chasing her ever since. As we ran up the steps, I thought to myself, “this girl is not boring after all.”
We had a great time at the dance. I don’t remember much of the details, I just remember that I had a wonderful time with her.
As we were driving away from the Capital, I remember making small talk with my roommate and his date who were in the backseat. As we drove past the Salt Lake Temple, I made the passing comment that that’s where I wanted to get married. At that very moment I had the very real impression that I could marry this girl sitting next to me.
And that, as they say, was all she wrote. The dance was on October 16th, or thereabouts and we were engaged on New Years Eve. Again, how we got engaged is another story for another time.
I couldn’t believe it then and I still can’t believe it now that I was marrying Janae Durfee. She was smart, she was beautiful, she was talented. And she still is all those things. She was described to me before we even met as a “choice and fair companion.” How true are those words. I was then and I am still now, the luckiest man in the world.
Like all husbands, we have married far above our station in life. The thing that brings me the most fear is if I have somehow drug her down to my level as opposed to her lifting me up to hers. I sometimes wonder if we husbands don’t tend to do that. Shame on us!!
Prior to being deployed, Janae had several people say to her, “how are you going to handle Bob being gone?” Well one wise woman said to her, “You’re the one woman I know who will be able to handle this.” Janae was so grateful for that comment and that has proven so true. Janae is one of those women who, when faced with a challenge, doesn’t bemoan her fate or lot in life, but is one who tackles it head on. Of course it has been hard not having a husband at home, but she has risen to the challenge and excelled.
Janae is a gifted teacher. I could tell you about how in her third year of teaching she was voted “Teacher of the Year” for the district or how she was voted “Teacher of the Year” again a couple of years ago, as a substitute teacher no less, but I think that says it all. There have been many times when we’ve been out somewhere and a child will come up to her to say “hello.” The fact that several of her students from when she first taught, who are now married and have kids of their own, would still keep in touch with her is a testament to her talents.
But that’s not where her true teaching talent lies. It lies in the way she has raised our sons. I know, I know, your children are the best but you are all sadly mistaken. We have been blessed with incredible young men. That’s not to say that they don’t have their challenges, but they are great young men. What makes me so grateful though is that Janae was blessed with the talents necessary to bring forth that greatness. Some of you may be shaking your heads at that comment, but as I’ve watched her over the years teach and train our boys, I’ve been truly amazed. I hope someday our boys will come to realize just how lucky they are to have Janae as their mother.
And then there’s her musical talents. She can play any piece on the piano. Not that Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus is the most difficult piece to play, but Janae has it mastered, or at least will once again have it mastered given a few minutes time. I still remember with great pride moving to Virginia and her stepping in and playing for the Stake Choir with very little notice or practice time. I know Lani was grateful to have her move into the ward and stake. I love to hear her play but over the years I’ve failed to let her know that. When I get home I’ll rectify that mistake and make her play while I sit and listen.
Or maybe we’ll sit at the piano and sing together. That’s what captured my heart in the first place was listening to her sing. We used to sing together but again, one of the casualties of busy schedules and hectic lives. That’s one of the positive things about this deployment though, it’s made me realize all the wonderful things in my life that I allowed to slip by the wayside.
And then there’s her literary talents. She’s always been a good writer but since I’ve been gone, she’s really excelled. Not only does she write me just about every day, but what she writes has thrilled and amazed me at her creativity. She’s very gifted!
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that she is the most wonderful blessing, most wonderful person in my life. All too often I take her for granted and that’s probably my greatest sin. Again, one of the benefits of a deployment is the opportunity to recognize mistakes and try to rectify them. She lifts me up when I’m down, she encourages me, she loves me, sometimes when I may not be deserving of that love. But that’s what makes her great.
She is truly a choice daughter of our Heavenly Father and I am the luckiest man in the world to be married to her.
So Janae, on your birthday, I love you and miss you and can’t wait to get home so that I can try to make you remember why you married this not-so-rich, stuck-up snob.
This is my favorite picuture of the two of us - when we were much younger!!
Here's Janae and the boys. She's wearing the Princess Tiara I bought her at Disneyland this last year when we were there. Her Dad called her Princess when she was little so much so, that she thought her name was Janae Princess Durfee.