Tonight many of you will celebrate an important milestone with my wife, Barb – her 50th Birthday.  You may or may not know this, but this virtual community of people from around the world is a very special group.  And one thing you all have in common, but may not know, is the wonderful person and friend you have in Barb.  You are joining her from as far away as Australia, England, Nova Scotia, and throughout the United States.  Barb cherishes all of you, and considers you all among her very best of friends.  You are a varied group of people – readers, fans, fellow writers – published and unpublished, or maybe you follow Barb’s blog for other reasons.  I want to share with all of you some of the wonderful characteristics of Barb – the things I cherish, and want the World to know.

For my 50th birthday last year, Barb threw me a big party.  She didn’t want me to do the same for her, and I didn’t.  Sadly, I haven’t yet done much to celebrate this birthday with her.  Over the weekend, her friends Michelle and Leslie threw a surprise night-on-the-town for Barb with the theater, dinner and hotel in Boston.  I put up the facade that it was me taking her into town for the night, but my job was only to get her to the hotel.  Barb loved surprise, the night out and the day in Boston with friends.  Michelle and Leslie did a FANTASTIC job!

Some of you may know that I’ve been working on a sailboat project for the last 7 years.  Launch date is finally THIS Friday, July 18.  I’m so busy getting everything ready that I haven’t spent much time focused on Barb’s Birthday.  For the last 7 years, our family room (the one that Barb had renovated only a few years ago) has been full of boat parts – including a marine toilet, wires, parts, boxes of stuff, loose tools, books, leaky paint and fiberglass jugs – you name it.  Last year I painted something (I forget what) and got spray paint dust all over the place.  She hates the fact that this is the first room people see when they come in our house.  But she puts up with it, hoping for the day it’s clean again, and listening patiently to my promises that it will be cleaned up soon – as soon as I get ________ project complete – Honestly Honey – I promise.  Prior to that, it was the garage.  Most recently it’s been the 3 season porch (the new painting room), and my perpetual mess in the living room, not to mention the top of my bureau – for the last 3 weeks she’s been repeatedly asking me to clean out my sock and underwear drawers to make room for newer articles.  She finally cleaned them herself and simply mentioned that it was done.  Barb has infinite patience with me and is a silent sufferer of being perpetually taken for granted.

Others of you may know that we have a son, Andrew, now 20 years old.  During his middle-high school years, Barb and I argued heatedly about the different ways in which we were raising him – I focused on results:  Grades, Classes, Hard Work, Intestinal Fortitude.  Barb’s approach was a little different – she preferred to give Andrew some freedom to be him be himself, making sure he had a chance to air his views, have a voice, give and take.  Barb put up with my hard-nose views with Andrew while she quietly and patiently showed a kinder and gentler side.  Andrew is now a junior in college, with a full scholarship for Army ROTC.  He’s well rounded, very responsible, very smart, and very mature, and he has a great relationship with his parents.  I believe that all of this is due to Barb’s patience, loving ways, fairness and nurturing nature, far more than any contributions I may have made to his development.

You probably already know that Barb is passionately devoted to the writing community.  She remembers her long struggle to get that first book published, and the divide that seemed to exist between published and unpublished authors, and she is determined not to forget where she came from.  She remembers the periods of Writer’s Block after the first book – could she write a second?  She strives to BE the mentor that didn’t exist for her before she was published.  She offers her time and energy to help anyone  – ANYONE – who is interested in learning the craft of writing, or navigating the world of publishers.  What you probably don’t know is that Barb is very introverted, and that it’s very difficult for her to engage in social situations or with people she doesn’t know well.  But her desire to be helpful to others overrides her introversion, and she helps and supports those who seek it.  At times, she wishes someone would help her when she needs it, and almost like Karma, through her generosity and kindhearted nature, there’s usually always someone who returns the kindness – usually some one or another of YOU out there. And she always sees the best in people and in situations.

Barb is well informed in many areas, and is always researching various items of interest – history, politics, psychology, other writing genres, sports (SPORTS).  She’s always learning about EVERYTHING.  When we go to parties, she can stand up with the best of them on whatever topic happens to be being discussed.  I have to stand quietly sipping my drink, happy to watch her work with the crowd and proud to be her husband.

And you all know, she is so very very passionate about writing.  Not necessarily HER OWN writing, but ANY writing.  She loves characters, and she misses hers when she’s completed writing a particular book, as well as those of her peers who’s books she’s read.  And she loves the plots.  When we watch television, she can identify the plot, the thief, and the hidden secret, all of it, within about 5 minutes of the start.

You probably don’t know that Barb has spent the better part of her adult life trying very hard to break out of a mold in which she believes she’s been cast.  She is a voracious self-help advocate.  Barb’s personality has changed – GROWN – tremendously during our 25 years of marriage.  First she worked on her own personal growth and development, and then shifted her focus to ensuring our son doesn’t grow up with the baggage she and I feel we brought forward from our childhoods.  And by all accounts she’s been hugely successful.  Now she’s working to help others in whatever ways she can.

There are so many things I can say that I can go on and on but I think you get the point.

So here is my toast to Barb on her 50th Birthday – a toast I hope you will all join me in celebrating:

To you, Barbara, on your 50th Birthday:  You are the brightest light in my life – you always have been and always will be. You are patient, kindhearted, mentally strong yet with feminine fragility.  You are, optimistic, beautiful, friendly and intelligent – in a word, you are Everything to me, and Everything you should ever want to be to yourself.  Happy Birthday Honey!  I Love You, and hope someday to repay you all of the patience and grace you have shown me.   Cheers!

With all my love

Peter

PS: – Barb had to post this, as I don’t even know how to access a blog or the FaceSpace…  Thanks again, Doo!  S

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