While TTMM is enjoying a little down time this week to revamp some items and trip down memory lane with previous articles and features, we-his friends and family-wanted to celebrate Jerry a little. This is the perfect week to celebrate Jerry because today is his birthday. So please allow us this indulgence of taking over TTMM for a day to look at this special person on his birthday.
For my darling husband,
Commemorating someone’s day of birth can be a daunting task, especially when that person is so near and dear – like you are to me. I found it to be an awesome walk down memory lane that provided many laughs, smiles and “aww” moments.
In high school, you were Kim’s boyfriend and that guy that hung around with Margie. At our 10 year reunion, you were that really awesome guy that managed to escape Jeff County and make something of himself. And boy had you made it!!!! I was impressed. You were the most interesting person at the reunion. You were Marilyn Manson before Marilyn Manson (or at least that’s how I felt – you were exotic to this country chick who hadn’t managed the escape herself). You had the balls to throw the mic down and say f– you guys. I remember talking to you, liking you and giving you my contact info …. All right in front of my then-significant other. Not too much happened between the 10 year reunion and the infamous MySpace message (despite your numerous attempts at getting past my mother, the telephone screening nightmare). “Hey, I think we went to high school together.” Oh hey! Jerry Benns, I remember you!” You were interesting then, even as a non-love interest. I remember getting back in touch with you after a year-long hiatus of messages. The more I learned about you and heard from you, the more interesting you became. It wasn’t long before we switched to email and text. But I didn’t want to hear your voice until I saw you in person – how weird am I?! I guess I knew the score, even early on. Agreeing to meet you for a date, even though I was late and late for not such a great reason, was one of the best decisions I have made. The monkey t-shirt, shorts and sandals …. I remember it all. It was an awesome conversation and I was shocked to get an invite back to your place. Sitting in your lap (shame on me), the black chairs in the living room to separate us, laughing, smiling – and the evening culminating with “if you keep looking at my mouth, I’m going to kiss you,” what a great line! We rushed through dating with emails back and forth, filled with color and formatting, response after response, story after story. To move in or not to move in, to wait or not to wait, those were our questions. Those questions progressed to WHEN to move in – before school starts, or wait until Christmas. We threw caution to the wind and after a whopping 5 week romance, I moved from my childhood home into your home. Seven people in a house with one bathroom, not enough bedrooms for all the kids – YET WE MADE IT WORK!
You’re an awesome dad to all three of our children. They all have their unique personalities, quirks and needs; you provide them with exactly what they require, want and need. You offer them strength, insight, a listening ear, a crying shoulder, an interesting perspective or just quiet solitude.
I find myself loving you, in love with you, and happy to have you by my side, through all of life’s joys, sorrows, laughs and screams. You are always striving to be better at everything you do, and your family comes first. That is the sign of a great man. I’m thrilled and lucky to have you as a husband, partner, friend, housemate, teammate, and all sorts of hats under the sun. You wear them all well, including your Indiana Jones hat. My love for you is endless, though trite as that may sound.
For my best friend,
When I think of the word “friend” your beloved face is the first to come to mind. We have been friends for what seems like forever. But wasn’t it just yesterday we sat on the bus and you asked me if I ever heard of Bon Jovi? From the first time we sat on the bus listening to music and talking I knew we would be close friends. Who else would wait patiently to drive me to school, or make sure I had my work schedule, or write notes to me every single day? I have always been proud to call you my friend. Even in high school I knew you were special. You always tried to do the right thing, even when I tempted you to the dark side. (Btw the few times I got you to visit the dark side we had fun- although I think you are still grounded.) I’m pretty sure we ran your poor Toyota truck into the ground-I still miss that truck. We talked endlessly about everything. I guess some things never change. While we have had some years apart, we always found a way back to each other, then picked right back up where we left off only to get closer each time. I’ve seen you go from the quiet boy on the bus to this wonderful brilliant man.
I admire you so much. You work so hard every day, putting in 100%. You are always learning and trying to do better or be better, whether it is being a loving, devoted husband and father, good friend, or writing, you never just sit back, you always want to do more. Even though you are pretty fantastic, you strive to be better. If asked to describe you, some of the many words I would use are kind, caring, compassionate, giving intelligent and strong. You have a kind soul and genuinely care about people. I have seen dozens of acts of your kindness manifest in your everyday life. One of the greatest traits you possess is being such a good listener and that is because you care. Your compassion shines through whether you are explaining something to a child with hurt feelings or comforting a loved one through some hardship they are facing. No one can feel alone with you there. You are giving of your time, support, effort, and strength. You will put aside work to have a conversation with your family. You set aside the book you are engrossed in to read to your daughter. You stay up all night to comfort a friend when their world is falling apart. I love so many of the articles you write in which you open up give a small glimpse of your soul. You have the ability to relate to others by sharing your own hardships and experiences-a very special quality. You share the strength you possess and are able to connect to people on a deeper level.
No one could ask for a better friend than you. No matter what I tell you, how much I whine or complain or cry, you never judge, only listen and offer some sage advice. You would never say “I told you so,” and I know no matter what I can always count on you. You have great shoulders and never hesitate to share your strength. Your passions and eclectic interests fascinate me. Some qualities you posses that I admire are that you can have an intelligent conversation on a wide range of topics. You can cook, have an obsession with your lawn, are an avid reader, and can bring people together. Not only do I owe my music collection to you-the good stuff- but we can spend all day talking, jumping from one subject to another. Your enthusiasm is infectious. You pursue your dreams fearlessly. Your love of reading and all aspects of writing lead you to strive to learn constantly and step closer to achieving your dreams. I hope you know I am your cheerleader as you work towards reaching your dreams.
You have a wicked sense of humor. You can find humor in the most mundane situations and you tell the greatest stories. It is a joy to see you smile. I love how your humor finds its way into your writing. Whether in a short quip or a piece that is an all-out rant, you are funny (yes I said it and it’s in print). Reading the blog is a lot like sitting down and talking to you (one of my favorite things to do). We had a whole conversation about bumper stickers before it ended up in an article. While often times you poke fun at yourself and exaggerate a character trait others can relate to, your humor is never mean-spirited. You have the ability to make people laugh.
I could continue to tout how awesome you are but I think you get the idea. So today, on your birthday, I want you to know I am honored to be your friend and I wish you every happiness.
Christine & Margie