Happy Birthday, Dear Cheri!

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This weekend (29 June 2013) is the birthday of my wife, Cheri. Happy Birthday, sweetheart!

The letters in her full name — Cheri Victoria Wallace Matthews — reveal a lot about her. They rearrange to spell: “Worthwhile acclaim reactivates” and “Well! Charisma to a creative witch”. (Since Cheri thinks of witchery as symbolic of feminine power and womanly magic, that’s a good thing.) There’s also “Ha ha! Well! Star comic, creative wit” and “Whatever catholic miracle waits”. (She being a Baha’i, I assume this is lower-case “catholic”, in its proper sense of “universal”.)

CherislidesBe that as it may, this amazing woman is the love of my life. Her birthday is always a Big Deal to me, and this one even more than usual. She’s 70 years old, amazingly deep and resilient, full of life and sparkle.

This year is a special milestone for me, too, though I hadn’t done the math till this morning. It was exactly 32 years ago that Cheri and I met. And I just turned 64. Meaning it was exactly half my lifetime ago that I first was dazzled by this life-changing lady. Fifty percent of my years. From this point forward, I’ll have known her for more than half my life; but that halfway point strikes me as worth celebrating.

Dazzled or not, it was at least five years later before we figured out that we had a thing for one another. That’s another story, one I’ll tell another time, God and Cheri willing.

Okay, I’ve dated this post 29 June, because that’s Cheri’s official birthday. But I’m actually writing it on Sunday, 30 June — which Cheri insists is still her birthday because it’s part of her “birthday weekend”. If she can fudge, so can I!

Winnie, Shannon, and Cheri

Winnie, Shannon, and Cheri

Cheri’s son, Shannon, is here this weekend, visiting from Los Angeles. (Having just been accepted at the University of California at Berkeley, he’s getting set to go to school there.) Shannon and I, along with Cheri and her 91-year-old mom, Winnie Anderson, celebrated with a special dinner at Chesapeake’s seafood restaurant in downtown Knoxville.

Cheri’s gift from me — she asked for it particularly — was a copy of the heartwarming book “Prison Poems” by Mahvash Sabet, one of the Baha’i leaders unjustly imprisoned in Iran for her religious faith. This book, adapted to English by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani and published by George Ronald, is a classic. Highly recommended.

Today the four of us (Cheri, Shannon, Winnie, and I) toured the Knoxville Zoo. The zoo is literally right behind the house where Cheri and I live — it would literally be our backyard, if not for the alley separating us. But we’ve rarely visited it enough to do the whole deal. Today we did, and got some great photos. (See below.)

Feel free to leave Cheri a birthday greeting in the comments section below. Belated or not, they’ll make her happy — and you know what they say about worthwhile acclaim.

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Happy Birthday, Dear Cheri! — 26 Comments

  1. What a lovely tribute to the love of your life Gary. Cheri and you both are lucky to have found each other. Happy birthday to Cheri – it’s been too many years since we’ve seen each other, but perhaps that will change in the near future.

    Much love – Joyce

    • Thank you, Laura, for validating my own empirical, completely objective observation to the same effect. If only all decisions in life could be that clear-cut.

  2. Happy birthday Cheri! We miss you from all those years ago in Knoxville! Shahrokh and I remember you fondly. Have a great eighth decade!

  3. Happy Birthday Cheri! Thanks for sharing the event, Gary. I really loved the photos – particularly those of the people!

  4. We both wish dear Cheri the happiest of birthdays. Your love for each other is an inspiration to us! May you celebrate your birthdays another 100 years and keep inspiring the future generations. By the way, Gary, you just accepted our friend request; that being the reason for the belated birthday wishes. May love surround you always.

  5. Hello and happy birthday to Cheri! And I agree that you should fudge and consider the entire weekend as your birthday. In our family, we take the entire month. Or even longer! So, keep on celebrating. These decade birthdays are especially awesome. I’m so glad to see you still wear your beautiful hair long. The zoo pictures are great. I enjoyed this post, Gary, and congratulations to you both.

    • Many thanks, Wanda, for your kind reflections here, and for your similar ones on Facebook. Regarding the latter: You congratulated us there on “32 years of happiness”. Perhaps I should clarify that Cheri and I have been a couple for only 27 years (specifically since 31 May 1986) — and a married one since 12 July of that same year.

      That isn’t to say we were unhappy during the five years we were just friends without being “together”. Far from it! But we’re a lot happier together. My point wasn’t that we’ve been married for half my life (though that milestone, too, will arrive rather soon). It’s just that I’ve known Cheri for that long. And been dazzled by her for that entire time, even though, for the first five years, coupledom wasn’t on the radar, or even on the horizon. (Is there such a word as “coupledom”? Oh, well, there is now!)

  6. Have a wonderful birthday (oops I’m several days late) Cheri! I know birthdays are a big deal in your household, and I absolutely love the tribute that Gary wrote for you. One very amazing lady indeed. Love, love, love the pictures. It makes me homesick for Knoxville and my dear, dear friends. So proud of you all.! Much love, Patricia and Peter

  7. Dear Cheri, belated happy birthday to you and many more. I remember seeing you for the first time some years ago at Tenn Baha’ School and noticed the brilliant smile you had for everyone, still have no doubt.
    I am exploring Gary’s FB pages.

  8. I feel that when a person turns 70 they should celebrate as long as they want to. Although 70 is now considered late middle age and not “over the hill”! And you, dear one, are not over the hill! Love the picture of you, your mother, and Shannon.

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