Cassie Shepherd

August 30, 2010

What Really Matters

Mitch and I are officially moved out of our first place. We have spent the last couple of weeks working hard! I've tried to be strategic in our packing. I have everything organized by location. We had three destinations for all of our things: Alpine, Home (meaning Cottonwood Heights) and Georgia.

The necessities came to Alpine where we'll use over the next couple of months like our bed, dresser, desks, scrapbooking and sewing things, clothes, and food. The things we can live without in Georgia went to my parent's home like our snowboarding gear, large furniture, excess dishes and kitchen appliances, and a lot of house decor. Finally, very little holiday and house decor, kitchen appliances, utensils, dishes, and bedding is packed up in storage waiting to be opened once we arrive in Georgia.

In the middle of all of this we are trying to get the home that we're staying at in Alpine ready to be finished. My brother, Bob, and his family built this home six years ago. He has spent hours upon hours over the last three years working on finishing his basement. When we found out Mitch was accepted into PA school he kindly invited us into his home. The basement is near completion. We have been here a week and the carpet comes this Thursday. So, we're right up to the last minute projects. Setting cabinets, finishing and touching up baseboards, hanging blinds, and a whole lot of cleaning!

His basement has 10 foot ceilings and extra large door ways. Our room has 3 gigantic windows and two smaller ones. I say this because we came from a place with one small window and 8 foot ceilings that had water damage. Our room is almost bigger than our room, living room, kitchen, and bathroom combined! We loved our place at Edgewood, but having so much more space has been refreshing. The walls are bright and with the extra sun we both feel better. I'm still not used to having to walk so far to and from all of my destinations. The dresser seems quite aways away from our bed and the bathroom is almost twice the walk. I love it though! I am so grateful we get to stay here until we move permanently.

Now, on to what really matters in this post. Last week it was time to say good-bye to our little place. We took a picture and went out to lunch at Olive Garden with Pop, Mitch's grandfather Stanley. Pop comes up from Arizona and lives in the upstairs unit over the summer. He left yesterday so the three of us went to lunch last week. He still gets around great though. My oldest living grandmother died when I was three so the word "grandparents" hasn't been too familiar for me. I was fortunate enough to spend many hours talking with Pop over the summer. Especially when Mitch was in Oregon. It was good to get to know him better and hear about his life.

On more than one occasion he has told Mitch and I to always "be kind" to one another. It seems to be the most reoccurring advice for us. He said it took him too long to figure that out in his own marriage and now he heavily regrets it. Cleo, his wife, died of cancer a number of years ago. Mitch says I'm a lot like her because, " both like nice things." I'm sure there are more reasons why, but that seems to be the reason that stuck out the most. I've only heard wonderful things about her though so I greatly appreciate a compliment like that. :)

With us moving to Georgia Mitch and I knew this might be one of our last memories made with Pop so we tried to take full advantage of it. He is such a sweet man. On our last visit he told us a story about him and Cleo in their early years. I'll do my best to re-tell it...

As you know there are three sizes of eggs that can be purchased - small, medium, and large. Cleo liked the small eggs and Pop liked the large eggs.
"Of course," Pop commented, "does the size of an egg really matter? No!"
However, he explained they would consistently argue over what size to get every time the choice was presented to buy large or small eggs. Many years after they were married they ran out of eggs. Pop and Cleo both picked some up without the other knowing. Pop brought home the small eggs and Cleo brought home the large eggs.
"We just laughed and laughed! The point never was about what kind of eggs were better. It was about us recognizing the other person and showing them that what they thought was valuable even if it was different."

This reminds me of The Gift of the Magi. I understand recognition is crucial to making a marriage work, but it sure is difficult. Pop is right on and I know that with all of my heart. However, carrying the concept in all of our disagreements is a definite challenge. Mitch and I still have a long journey ahead of us with a lot to learn.

When Mitch and I were first married, maybe a month after, we were living in Red Bluff, California. I tried to do my dutiful role of fixing Mitch a hot breakfast and a good lunch every day before work. One morning I ended up locking myself in the bathroom in tears because Mitch said the best way to make scrambled eggs was different then what I was doing. Pop's story was exactly why I was in tears. I didn't honestly care which way was better because I didn't think it made any difference (especially since I had made him eggs that way many times.) It was more about him recognizing both ways were okay.

 I do need to point out - he was very apologetic once he realized what was wrong. He is a good man and we're both learning how to be understanding in our words and actions. We've had two different lifestyles growing up. We are complete polar opposites on almost every subject but religion. Thank goodness we share the same views on the most important one. It is the glue that keeps us together while we make dumb mistakes along the way.

Simply put, Pop's advice was a tender mercy reminding us what really matters in our marriage. It isn't about where we live, what kind of car we drive, or how we fix our eggs. I believe that, if understood and learned, this idea of love and recognition can make all the difference. You don't even have to agree - just recognize and appreciate. 

To sum it up - I love an article by F. Burton Howard called "Eternal Marriage" from the May 2003 Ensign. He puts the perfect perspective on life and marriage. How grateful I am to have an amazing husband who, when I need it the most, works hard at keeping our marriage eternal. 
"An eternal marriage is eternal. Eternal implies continuing growth and improvement. It means that man and wife will honestly try to perfect themselves. It means that the marriage relationship is not to be frivolously discarded at the first sign of disagreement or when times get hard. It signifies that love will grow stronger with time and that it extends beyond the grave. It means that each partner will be blessed with the company of the other partner forever and that problems and differences might as well be resolved because they are not going to go away. Eternal signifies repentance, forgiveness, long-suffering, patience, hope, charity, love, and humility. All of these things are involved in anything that is eternal, and surely we must learn and practice them if we intend to claim an eternal marriage."

"If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by."

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