Athens Review, Athens, Texas

May 24, 2013

JEFF RIGGS: I'll cherish every second of our first 25 years

Jeff Riggs
The Athens Review

ATHENS — Twenty-five years is a long time to do just about anything. At least that is true with many things.

That’s how many years my wife Jean and I will have been married come December, and it just doesn’t seem that long.

Perhaps one reason is the humor we have between us. Any time, day or night, we can say something that is humorous to the other of us and make life a little sweeter, even during times of tension.

For instance, I tell her that the 25 years we will have been married has seemed like just minutes. Anyone who has been married even one year knows it doesn’t seem like minutes. I’m not lying to her — I’m just funnin’.

Then there’s the humor that comes out when we go out to eat. Often, when we sit down at the restaurant table, I tell Jean that I am going to the restroom and will be back in just a bit.

Then when I return to the table, I tell my story.

“Honey, I went into the restroom, and a guy — I guess in his 20s — came up and told me he saw us come into the restaurant. He then asked me if my daughter was married.”

We both laugh at that — me a whole lot more enthusiastically, I’m afraid. Perhaps the frequency of my telling the same joke has something to do with her reaction waning.

Jean really does seem young to me, and not just because I’m old. Her brain has always been sharp and her beauty never ends. I have told her again and again that she is the smartest person I have ever met. And, I’ve met a lot of people with their doctorates and the recipient of other massive honors.

Part of Jean’s intelligence, I believe, comes from her German heritage and the incredible intelligence in her family. Her sisters have both seemed very smart, as well.

Because of mental ability, Jean stayed in her employment with the City of Deer Park as recreational supervisor for 31 years before retiring in 2000.

One year before retiring, she began working for Fred Pryor Seminars as a seminar leader and business consultant. During that time, many organizations such as the FBI, the City of New York and many others relied on her expertise. Her courses included communications and leadership skills, along with speed reading. The position carried her throughout the U.S., the U.K. and Canada with those duties and as a motivational speaker.

During that time period, she was also on the Board of Directors of Toastmasters International. In this position, she was over the activities of Toastmasters clubs and districts in eight states.

She has often chaired speech competitions for Toastmasters and been chief judge, along with many other honors. She achieved her Distinguished Toastmaster rating, the highest earned in that organization.

If that were not enough, I have fond memories of seeing this woman on the stage of the Deer Park Community Theatre and the Wagoner, Okla., Community Theatre, portraying many characters in many wonderful and well-known presentations.

I met this wonderful woman when I was editor of the Deer Park Progress/Broadcaster near Houston. It was in that time period that she  was employed by the City of Deer Park. It was then, at the age of 38, that I had never been married. I had always been freed from the responsibility and enjoying it.

But, then something special happened in my life. I had just began believing that Jesus Christ was more than science fiction and I went through the simple procedure to be saved. Then, the importance of people in my life became more relevant than ever before.

Here was a woman that would give all of her moments on this earth in a manner characterized by dedication to me. Frankly, because of my social past up to that time, I didn’t at first believe that was even close to possible.

We were married on Dec. 17, 1988, at the chapel at the University of Houston, where I finished school.

The beauty of the moment was beyond description. I’m so happy that my mother lived long enough to witness the happiest moment in her son’s life. I’m so happy that her mother lived long enough to see the happiness her daughter gave me.

Since then, through Jean’s son, Jerry, we have had two grandchildren, Lane and Ciara. Lane fathered our great-granddaughter, Lola, last November.

Yeah – 25 years of marital bliss! I used to say that with a big smile on my face like I was joking or maybe even covering up the truth. But, when I said that same thing at five years, or 10 years, or 20 years, I was more than sincere.

Coming up soon, we will have actually reached that 25-year mark. We will have a celebration in December at the high-rise 2016 complex in Downtown Houston. Then, we plan a trip to South America during that month to celebrate even more.

But, I can tell you — even if we went with all our friends and relatives to some faraway planet, where the beautiful trees and waterways were dominant and there was as much food and other God-given pleasure as anyone could want, there would be no scenery or celebration that could match the wonder and beauty of our marriage.

Yes – 25 years is a long time for some things. But, with all kidding aside, it does truly seem like yesterday.

Two and a half decades is a long time. But, for our time together on this earth, it will never be long enough.

Jeff Riggs is Associate Editor of the Athens Daily Review.