He moves a little slower now. But hard work will do that to a man. His joints creak now when he gets out of our double bed. But he has sinew on his arms, like rope stretched round an old post many times over. Losing none of its strength simply looking a little more worn. Hands that I’ve seen lift a 100 pound sack of feed as if it were a plaything, and yet wet a cloth to wash my face while I’m ill with the delicate ease of a doctor. You see the cowboy stars on television who perform seeming impossible shots with their western rifles. I’ve seen him fire a bullet hole in a bullet hole from a place so far away I couldn’t even see the cross mark. A man we know carries the target in his wallet , that my husband once shot as proof that he knows a man who can shoot ” a hole into a hole.” I’ve dreamed a dream up in my mind and said , ” If I wanted a shelf that looked like this and went here in this space, would you build it for me?” . And out of spare wood from the yard, and his pure imagination , he can build it, and stain it and make it a work of art. His boys think he is the strongest, tallest , smartest, best Daddy in the world. And why not? He’s taught them how to catch a fish with just a string, a hook, and a worm. How to walk tall in a world full of people who tell them differently. They know how to shake hands with a man when saying hello, and how to open a door for a lady. He’s taught them how to skip rocks, crack a Bible, kneel in prayer, and if need be, how to throw a punch. He’s told them you always love your Lord, your Momma, and your neighbor, and IN that order. I first laid eyes on him when I was 16, and told my friend, I’m gonna’ marry that man, and I did. He has been my light on some very, very dark nights, given me two amazing children, been my laughter when I am down, my lover, my strength on some days when I thought I didn’t want to go on anymore, and always, always, my BEST FRIEND. Today he is 48 , and I love him more now than I did that September day when I first saw him across the churchyard. Happy birthday babe, you are my everything.