The number 28 is celebrated in the Jones family because of the famous-only-to-Joneses phrase “28 crazy.” My father’s brother Jack created this designation in a moment of tormenting his brother Ed. Ed: “You’re crazy.” Jack: “You’re crazy two.” Ed: “You’re crazy three.” Jack: “Well, you’re twenty-eight crazy, and that’s as crazy as you can get.” As a boy, the first few times I heard my dad describe someone as twenty-eight crazy — an acquaintance, coworker, politician, or minister — I’d ask, “What’s twenty-eight crazy?” And Dad would reply, “That’s as crazy as you can get.” I spent a few years thinking it was an actual scientific term before I caught on.
So, on the occasion of Jeanine and my 28th wedding anniversary, on the 28th of June, 2014, I list 28 reasons I’m 28 crazy about Jeanine:
1. Her eyes. They are blue, radiant, and kind, and they’re the reason I fell for her. If you’ve heard me tell the story about falling for her feet, that’s just for laughs. Really, it’s her eyes.
2. Her wisdom. She is remarkably smart about things that actually matter. I laugh to think how many stupid things I would have done the past twenty-eight years without her helping me think things through. People pay her money for her wisdom, but I get it for free.
3. She is a great mom. Both our kids LOVE her! To quote Peyton, “Nana, I do adore you so.”
4. She makes me a better dad. Several times a day. See 2 above.
5. She loves the ocean. There’s an Isak Dinesen quote on our refrigerator: “The cure for everything is salt water: sweat, tears, and the sea.” Jeanine already knew that.
6. She loves hiking. We’ve shared so many great ones, and I love our fall and winter treks up Swan Mountain together.
7. She is loyal to her friends.
8. She can dance. One night shortly after we met, friends of ours in a band were playing a bar in Raleigh. I knew Jeanine would be there, and I told my best friend Bill, “If she can dance, I’m gonna ask her her out.” Well, she can, and I did, and as I’ve gotten older and stodgier, she keeps getting me out there.
9. She says cute things as she’s falling asleep. She’ll begin a sentence in her last moment of awakeness – “Help me remember tomorrow to” – and finish in her first moment of asleepness – “a dolphin in the water.”
10. She carries her fair share and then some. At home, at work, among friends and family: she is fair about dividing responsibilities.
11. She has fabulous siblings. Her brothers and sister are among my best friends in the world.
12. And parents. Not everybody gets a mother-in-law and father-in-law they enjoy, respect, and learn from. But I do.
13. She loves her parents. She cherishes time with them, takes them food when they’re sick, and fusses at them to take care of themselves if she thinks they need it.
14. She loves mine, too.
15. She’s generous – with time, wisdom, and money – without allowing herself to be taken advantage of.
16. She’s helped me become more generous. The first fight we ever had was about how to wash a car (or possibly about the way I said, “That’s not the way to wash a car”). But the fight we had most often the first fifteen years or so was about money. A bit at a time, she helped me trust that we didn’t have to be as careful with money as I thought we did, and I’ve come to give and receive more freely.
17. She values experiences over things. She’d rather give or receive a go-somewhere-do-something gift than anything wrapped in paper. Yesterday for our anniversary she planned a day for us together – breakfast and dinner out and a trip to Lake Lure with Marshall and Michelle in between. I love love love this about her.
18. She keeps surprising. Yesterday in the car she started singing the theme song to “Speed Racer,” which was a cartoon from the 60’s. Twenty-eight years she made me wait for this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suCm1w_KTiY
19. She has a special laugh that she uses only for Stephen Colbert. Maybe all people have different laughs for different things, but her Colbert laugh is absolutely her best.
20. Jeanine can flat grill a steak. Ask Walton if you don’t believe me.
21. She’s a childbirth bad-ass. She delivered two children naturally: Peyton weighed nine pounds ten ounces. Walton weighed ten pounds fourteen ounces. I’m just saying.
22. She’s a spiritual explorer. She keeps introducing me to ideas and experiences I might not have known about except through her.
23. When Walton is out late, which he is often, she intuitively wakes up five minutes before he gets home.
24. Though she prefers variety over repetition — she doesn’t like repetitive exercise (she’ll pick a dance class over a bike class), she doesn’t like leftovers — she has stuck with the same guy for all these years.
25. She’s a great travel companion. My favorite just-us trip was our twentieth anniversary trip to Acadia National Park, and my favorite trip with the kids was the Laura Ingalls Wilder pilgrimage to South Dakota. (See 16 above: experiences over things.)
26. She keeps little chocolate treats hidden in her desk at work. She thinks I don’t know this, but I do.
27. She taught me to love foot rubs.
28. Did I mention her eyes?
My family says 28 crazy is as crazy as you can get. Jeanine and are starting year 29. We’ll see.