Finding Meaning

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The Kindest Act

By Skip Hellewell

Early in my marriage to the Beautiful Wife, she had a girlfriend from her youth over for dinner. It was an uneventful evening except for one thing that made it unforgettable. The BW and her girlfriend knew something that I had totally forgotten: It was the BW’s birthday. And my failure to remember her birthday was witnessed by the BW’s childhood girlfriend. It doesn’t get much worse than that.

The eminent historian Dr. Will Durant, after sifting through the history of civilization in search of meaning, thought the most inspiring thing to be, “the loyal love of a man for a woman.” The love of a man may be loyal, but it’s not perfect. This brings to mind a column from last fall titled, “Men Not Listening.” It’s true; men can be preoccupied and fail to hear the one they love. I later protested to the BW that it shouldn’t be counted against a husband if the wife enters the room and starts talking without first getting his attention.

The BW took my plea to heart and now makes sure to get my attention first. If she comes to where I’m working at my computer she’ll sit in a nearby chair and wait while I finish the sentence I’m composing. I appreciate this and try to listen better. Just now, the BW entered the room and commented that she was going to get her hair cut short. It was one of those tricky comments. I didn’t know whether to defend the old haircut or agree a change would be better, but I did make a note to remember to notice when she returned.

Being a good husband is more difficult than I first imagined, but it does have its benefits. I came across a very interesting fact the other day, framed by a question. What is the best protection against poverty? Most of us would say a college education, wouldn’t we? This might lead to a discussion about the unfairness of life for a college degree isn’t equally available to all. But college wasn’t the answer. The correct answer was marriage. (Though college was almost as effective.) Even better, marriage is equally available to all. Or at least to any two people in love. There must be something to that old saying about two heads being better than one, whether college-educated or not.

A few days ago, the BW entered the room where I was working and sat down in a chair and waited for my attention. In full good-husband mode I turned to hear what she had to say. “Dear,” she said, “I just wanted to mention that tomorrow is our anniversary.” Aaahhhh! I had done it again, forgotten a critical date. But she forgave my lapse and gave me a chance. I rushed out the next morning and got an excess of red roses, her favorite sweets, and took her out to dinner that night (well, actually to In-N-Out, it was a busy day).

What I really valued was that with her forgiving, she gave me a chance. It takes a lot of forgiving to make a marriage. And in that forgiving, the loyal love of an imperfect man for his woman is what remains at the end of the day. Forgiving is the kindest act. There’s meaning in that. Now I just need to remember to notice her new hairdo. She’ll be home soon.

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach.” Email: [email protected]

Places to worship (all on Sunday, unless noted):

Baha’i’s of Laguna Beach—contact [email protected] for events and meetings.

Calvary Chapel Seaside, 21540 Wesley Drive (Lang Park Community Center), 10:30 a.m.

Chabad Jewish Center, 30804 S. Coast Hwy, Fri. 6 p.m., Sat. 10:30 a.m., Sun. 8 a.m.

Church by the Sea, 468 Legion St., 9 & 10:45 a.m.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 682 Park Ave., 10 a.m.

First Church of Christ, Scientist, 635 High Dr., 10 a.m.

ISKCON (Hare Krishna), 285 Legion St., 5 p.m., with 6:45 feast.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, 20912 Laguna Canyon Rd., 1:00 p.m.

Laguna Beach Net-Works, 286 St. Ann’s Dr., 10 a.m.

Laguna Presbyterian, 415 Forest Ave., 8:30 & 10 a.m.

Neighborhood Congregational Church (UCC), 340 St. Ann’s Drive, 10 a.m.

United Methodist Church, 21632 Wesley, 10 a.m.

St. Catherine of Siena (Catholic), 1042 Temple Terrace, Sunday 7:30, 9, 11, 1:30 p.m. (Spanish). Saturday: 4 pm Reconciliation, 5:30 Mass.

St. Francis by the Sea (American Catholic), 430 Park, 9:30 a.m.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 428 Park Ave., 8:00 & 10:30 a.m.

Unitarian Universalist, 429 Cypress St., 10:30 a.m.

 

 

 

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