“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”
When I first met my wife I thought she was a very clever woman. She was articulate, artistic and she had the most quick and wicked sense of humour.
One of the first things she said to me was what is the last book you read?
It wasn’t the question I was thinking she would ask first up but it signalled the start of a lively and vigorous relationship.
She was a voracious reader, always had a book with her and could hold a conversation with anyone and on any topic. To say she was well read and very conversive of topical issues was an understatement.
She had a voracious appetite for reading and learning about people.
She worked in the town library and that probably gave her every opportunity to read, keep up with the daily news and explore whatever issue she had a current interest in.
In our second year of our marriage she came to me one night and asked my opinion on going to the islands to work as volunteers among the poor. There was a great need for assistance on some of the some far-flung islands.
I was curious as to what we might be able to do, both being academics so to speak. My tenure at the university was nearly over and I was thinking of retirement.
I listened to her idea and then her proposal. There was one thing about my wife that I admired and it was her capacity to be informed and to have a swag of facts and figures to back up her arguments. It didn’t matter wether or not it was a discussion about black holes or the weekend’s footy results she was always a font of information.
So in July of 1993 we left our comfortable home on the Northern Beaches and set of for the wilds of Papua New Guinea where tribal wars still raged from time to time and where mod cons of life were unknown.
She had detailed to me the role she thought I might play and I was keen to do my bit.
It was hard going day in and day out. She would come to me at the end of every day full of enthusiasm and excitement over what had been achieved during the day, a window had been repaired, a child had learned to say a new word, she had mastered another aspect of the local culture.
My experiences with my wife in a strange and forbidding country allowed me to see her in a new light. As I said she was the most remarkable woman, and I loved her dearly, and I never wanted anything more for her than for her to be the woman she was. In that capacity I often sat back in awe of her as I sometimes wondered why she had chosen me to be her life partner.
Some of the chaps I worked with over the years had very set ideas about the role their wives played in their lives. I quickly discovered that life for me was about enjoying this most beautiful woman, beautiful in all aspects, a stunner as far as I was concerned, with a sharp mind and a wonderfully relaxing manner.
She was passionate in all she did. She approached every task in life as a challenge and I guess that included me, but she loved me, I know that because she made a point of telling me every day.
One evening while we were sitting after a particularly hard day she asked me why I stayed with her. It was a peculiar question but she replied that she had dragged me way out of my comfort zone to come to this place that was hot, sticky, if you didn’t remember the mozzie net you’d be eaten alive at night and the food was hardly what we would ever eat at home.
I said that I thought she knew, I went where she went. I had no doubt that when she told me about coming here that I would follow her, and do all I could to support her, even though I did think her plan a bit daft.
I told her she was the most remarkable woman I knew and that I’d have been a fool not to stick with her.
She listened to me and I have to say the one thing that always resonated with me was that when I spoke she would listen, she would hear me out and then talk about what I had said. I can’t say I ever felt she was putting me down for my thoughts rather she would say that she understood where I was coming from but that her idea was that one she wanted to pursue and often that was enough.
We had both had a say, as was our custom and a solution reached.
You know after that chat that night we retired and made love as if we were teenagers again. She could do that, be one minute a serious intellectual, the next a sensuous woman, as giving in lovemaking as she was in all aspects of her life.
I know I am lucky to have married her, and I think she was lucky to married me, together we made a pretty decent person.