By Joe Rector

We hear that things are “perfect” all the time. Of late, that perfection has centered around a telephone call, but over the course of our lives, many claims of perfection are proclaimed. In truth, we all know nothing is perfect.

Amy and I discovered soon after we began dating that we loved each other. Over a few months, our time was spent together when we weren’t in classes at Tennessee Tech. At some point, we just knew in our bones that we were meant to be together.

I was a student who earned a little each month for serving as a dorm head resident. That meant money was tight, but I still wanted to buy an engagement ring for Amy. I’m not sure exactly when we traveled to the jeweler to pick out a diamond and setting, but I remember the owner presented several stones. One diamond that the jeweler finally showed us was not his best. He said it had a flaw in it, nothing that was visible to the naked eye but still a little cloud on one spot. Amy okayed it, and we waited for the rings to be made and sized. That diamond was imperfect, but it was good enough to present at the altar on our wedding day.

Amy and I have worked since our teens. Part time jobs and full-time ones have provided living wages. I spent 30 years teaching high school English, and I enjoyed that time. However, no year was ever perfect. Some years, the classes I taught weren’t much fun. Sometimes I struggled with misbehaving students and even a couple of future criminals. However, for the most part, I loved what I did, and I have good memories of hundreds of students. Still, the job was far from perfect.

Amy’s work experiences haven’t been perfect either. She’s been a “worker bee” and a “boss” in jobs. She’s worked long hours and fretted over things that I didn’t understand. All the while, she made good friends and memories at each job. My wife can always find positives in any situation, but she would never say her work life has been perfect.

Amy and I are working on our 45th year of marriage. That’s a long time, especially for a woman who married at the age of 19. We are still in love and devoted to each other, but the road hasn’t always been easy. That first year was tough as we learned to live with someone new. Finances sometimes have sparked some angry words, and too often through the years, I’ve been hateful and gruff, and my words have been hurtful. Adding children to the mix brought about some tense moments, and, yes, some dark times have tested our love and dedication. Even so, we’ve come out on the other side stronger and closer. Our marriage has not been perfect, but It’s stood the test of time.

A fewer years ago, we brought Sadie into our lives. She was a rescue dog, and I knew she was the right one when I saw her face on a website. Unfortunately, another family had already adopted her, but they brought her back within a week because she had “accidents” in the house. She’s ours now, and we love her completely. She’s made some of the hard times over the last six years easier to bear, and we’re sure she was sent to us. This past spring we discovered that Sadie has a cancerous tumor growing in the roof of her mouth. It’s inoperable, so we watch and wait and pray. Sadie comes as close to perfect as any pet could ever come, but she isn’t. That just makes us love her more.

Life is filled with opportunities and events and people that make existing richer and fuller. However, bumps in the road and natural flaws keep it from being perfect. I’ll take the imperfect any time. For one thing, it makes living much more interesting. For another, I can’t compete with perfection.