The Love of My Life


Happy New Year! Isn’t that what we’re supposed to say? Happy New Year! Why is it happy? We don’t say Sad New Year! Or, the New Year sucks!

We don’t, because in the new year, optimism rules.

Happy New Year!

Looking back on New Year’s can be cathartic. Or, depressing. It all depends on what you’re looking back on.

New Year’s 2015. I would be fired from my job of more than 33 years in a month. Happy New Year!

New Year’s 2012. My wife and hundreds more journalists would be out of jobs by the year’s end, thanks to the destruction of journalism in Birmingham.

New Year’s 2001. Life was good, and then, in September, terrorists would change our lives forever.

New Year’s 2000. My mentor and boss Ron Casey would be dead by the end of January. I would be adrift. And longing. And confused. And hoping.

New Year’s 1997. My mother would die before March. Bone cancer and pain would consume her body. Thank God, if there is one, for her quick end.

New Year’s 1986. In less than a month, space shuttle Challenger would explode on liftoff, making us doubt that who we are is who we are. We’re not.

New Year’s 1980. I’m engaged to a woman who scares me. I’ve been engaged to her for more than a year. She’s my best friend and my worst enemy.

I’m about to marry her, and, yes, it scares me. But then, we are married. Our family and friends tell us it won’t last. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. We nod and eat cake and go off on a silly honeymoon.

We got married on Ground Hog’s Day. Feb. 2, 1980. I think the ground hog said, ‘’What are you doing?” I think he saw his shadow and said, “You’re going to be married for life.”

Happy New Year!

My wife, Veronica, was named, by her father, for Veronica Lake, who was an actress from the 1940’s and later. Veronica Lake died in July 1973 from hepatitis and acute kidney injury at the age of 50, according to Wikipedia.

I don’t let my students at UAB use Wikipedia as a source. But I’m not a student, so I can. And I do.

Veronica has saved me, more times than she knows. And despite her family’s predictions, we’ve been married for 37 years.

Let me tell you how she’s saved me. She’s been there, through thick and thin. I know that’s trite, and it’s trite for me to repeat it. But how better to describe the life-saving works of a woman who simply is there? Thick and thin. And folks, I’ve been both thick and thin.

Veronica has pulled me away from the porcelain goddess when I was puking who knows what from over drinking. She’s driven me home when she had no obligation to do so. She’s held me accountable when nobody else could. She’s been there, when she didn’t want to be, but had to be. She’s been there. Period.

Happy New Year!

Veronica is my angel. But more than that, she’s been my best friend. She listens to my rants, and tells me don’t rant. She reads my work, and tells me that’s not your work. She makes me want to scream, and she hears my screams.

She tells me you have written something good.

I am so flawed. I know my readers think I know what I’m doing. Well, I don’t. I’m a baby who has no idea what’s coming, what’s near, what’s going to happen.

Veronica does know, and she keeps me in the lines. She tells me when I’ve gone over them, and tells me when I’m true. I’m not true very often, but when I am, it’s because of Veronica.

I know, her name is an anachronism. Something from the past. I love it. She’s saved me, so many times. She has no idea. But she will. The past is the future. Veronica is the future.

I weep as I write this. I cannot help it. Veronica is my life. She has my heart. She has my soul. She is my everything. I’m sorry if this is over-sentimental. Sometimes, I’m over-sentimental.

My wife, Veronica, is my soul mate. She’s my very best friend. I’m not going to apologize for that. I love her. I hope she loves me, though I don’t deserve it. I never have. But she still does. Who does that? Veronica does.

Happy Veronica! Happy New Year! I hope your year will be as good as mine. I hope you find your soul mate. Your BFF. I did. I don’t deserve it. But I did.

Happy New Year. Happy Happy New Year!

4 Responses to “The Love of My Life”

  1. John Evon says:

    Anybody that knows both of you knows that you two are perfect for each other in so many ways and that you are lucky to have each other. Sometimes oil and water do mix and makes something special. And what you two have is special!

  2. Rian Alexander says:

    Wellllll said Joey. Veronica has earned a loving shout out from all who are lucky enough to know her. She gave my career a push in 1990 when we met. She is always there for those she loves, abd even for those that have betrayed her. She is a constant, a true friend and for you, a love, your soul mate. You know I know this soul mate thing, Joey. Im married to mine as well.

  3. Peggy Clarke says:

    This is one of the most heartfelt articles you have ever written. Everyone should be blessed with a Veronica in their lives. You are a very lucky man, but she is also a very lucky woman. Since we met in Leadership Birmingham I 1997, I knew you had something special to offer the world. You have proven that over and over again. Thank you for being you.

  4. Al Mickle says:

    Joey, very well said. It appears that, like me, you married well above your paygrade. However, by continuing to appreciate and acknowledge Veronica, today’s smart money will be on you guys having many more years of marriage.

    As a rising tide lifts all boats, you are showing​ a great example for other couples, men especially, to strive for.

    Great story about a great couple.

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