I had just been accepted to East Tennessee State University, but I felt I had to get a job to help take care of the baby that would make an appearance in the next few months. At the end of our conversation, Cindy told me she would be the sole breadwinner for the next few years so I could concentrate on school.
I was also going to be a stay-at-home father. We flipped the roles society typically places on a mother and father. She went to work and I went to school.
When I switched majors, she was supportive. And when I felt journalism calling to me, she encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Without her encouragement, I would not be writing for this newspaper.
Today, we are celebrating our 10 year anniversary. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you. There is an old saying that behind every good man is a great woman. I do not know how good I am, but Cindy has certainly been great.
She was there when I received a scholarship in college and the Chanticleer Award for Excellence in Writing. Cindy has seen the bitter disappointment I exude after placing second or third in state press contests, because I strive to be the best. She always tells me I am the best, even when I do not believe it.
When I received internships at the Jonesborough Herald & Tribune and the Johnson City Press, Cindy celebrated with me. When I was up for a job at the Elizabethton Star, she told me not to undervalue myself and to be paid what I am worth.
After I was offered the job at the Kingsport Times-News, she was ecstatic. Her parents have been longtime subscribers to the paper. (Hi Rick and Bernice Scalf from Rogersville!) It seemed like fate led me to this paper and she is part of it.
Cindy has always provided a sympathetic ear whenever I need to vent about things. She never judges what I say and instead offers me advice. It is not always advice I want to hear at that particular moment, but it is usually what I need.
Things have not always been perfect in our relationship. We went through a really rocky patch a few years ago. But she refused to give up on our marriage and fought for it. I am glad she did and I love her more now than maybe ever before.
She has seen me at my most vulnerable and loved me anyway. She held me when I cried at the passing of my grandfather and father. She has told me hard truths even though she knew I may get angry with her.
She has three children I love like my own. And because of her, i was able to experience the wonderful feeling of being a grandparent earlier than I probably should have. She gave me the opportunity to be a father with the birth of our little girl.
Cindy makes me a better man every day I get the opportunity to wake up next to her. I can never repay her for that.
I love you, honey. Happy anniversary.
Nick Shepherd covers Scott County for the Times-News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.