It started with an offhand comment, as do so many statements that evolve into something more.
We had found each other after previous marriages fell apart and were going through that stage when you explain why the earlier relationship failed and what you learned.
One morning she brought me a cup of coffee. I was startled and said that had never happened for me before.
Oh, she said, it was standard operating procedure: She had served coffee to her former spouse every morning during their 13-year marriage if he wasn’t deployed somewhere on a U.S. Navy ship.
Couples tend to tuck useful information like this away for future reference. But I thought this could be put to use immediately. I figured aloud that if she brought him coffee for 13 years, I might look forward to morning coffee service for at least that long.
The very next morning she got up first, as she always does, and a cup of coffee appeared on my nightstand.
Before long I worked this story into my tales of new marriage bliss whenever we gathered with family and close friends. It always got a laugh.
My Mother knew some stuff about marriage. She and my Dad were separated for six years during World War II. When the war ended and he came home, they had me and, I learned, they also had a tough time putting their marriage back together.
Because of this, it wasn’t surprising when my Mother offered marital advice. I should pay particular attention to Ephesians 4:26, she said.
That’s the verse that says, “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”
The Living Bible interprets it this way: “If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry — get over it quickly…”
This is easier said than done if you’re like me and dwell on things. Mostly because of my own stubbornness, I’ve spent more than a few long, uncomfortable nights on the living room couch in an icily silent house.
Those nights always ended with anxious moments when I began wondering: After all that was said, would she still bring me coffee?
Yes she would.
Sometimes it was without a word or even a glance. Sometimes there was a tentative smile. More than once the coffee service broke the ice, giving both of us a chance to say something nice and nudge life back to normal.
Often we ended up giggling at the fact neither of us could remember what started the nuclear war or why our particular point of view had seemed to matter so much a few hours earlier.
As you might by now suspect, my wife does many wonderful things for me, both large and small. I could in fact compile a long list.
I’m afraid her list might not be so long.
As our 13th wedding anniversary approached, I wondered if the coffee service would end. I asked about this several times but never received a definitive response. But when the anniversary date arrived the coffee did, too.
I’ve been enjoying this fabulous tradition now for 24-plus years. There have been some changes. Not about the service — about the coffee.
Now that I’m retired I’m paying more attention to my heart health and have gone from five cups of coffee a day when I was working full time to two cups a day after retirement then, earlier this month, to no caffeine at all.
My morning drink now consists of an instant brown liquid made of chicory, wheat, malted barley, figs and acorns. It’s good enough to fool me during those first groggy moments of wakefulness.
And it’s a delicious way to start the day because it is delivered with love.
George Hohmann retired last year as the Daily Mail’s business editor.