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I'm known as "America's Veterinarian," and I can certainly hold my own in an exam room or in discussions about any pet- or veterinary-related topic. Despite all that, I really do think of myself as a Jack-of-all-trades, master of none, and I live a life of continual self-improvement. In all areas of my life.
I read the veterinary journals, attend veterinary conferences, go to the world's largest pet industry trade shows. I want to be able to always look over the horizon while keeping my hand on the tiller of change while helping pets, people and my profession. And I've attended couples' retreats, bought books on "1,000 Romantic Things to Do," and, heck, I've even watched Oprah and taken notes because I want to be the best possible husband for my beloved wife of 33 years, Teresa.
I swear God was having one of his best days when He created Teresa because she's perfect in my eyes, and perfect for me. You'd have a hard time believing it when you see how I am with my children, but I didn't want children, and because of a medical issue, we never thought we would have kids. But one day I noticed just a tiny bulge on Teresa's muscular stomach and saw her eating a raw hot dog (a health nut, she doesn't even like cooked ones). "Do you think you could be pregnant?" I asked, to which she immediately responded, "What, do I look fat?"
Her doctor was known for always getting the pregnant or not question right with an ultrasound. Remember, this was before home pregnancy tests. When he pulled the wand off her belly, he told her she wasn't pregnant but he'd send in a test to make sure.
Funny thing: His office and our veterinary office used the same labratory, and when they were unable to get ahold of Teresa to tell her she was pregnant, they called me at the veterinary office. I knew she was pregnant before she was and broke the news to her that night at home. I wasn't too excited about becoming a father for the entire pregnancy. But the moment I saw our daughter, Mikkel, in the delivery room, I fell completely in love with her. Then, five years later, we were blessed with our son, Lexington.
Having two children who close to each other and to us is a blessing I don't take for granted. Besides texting, emailing and calling them frequently, I try to send them a hand-written card every week. Doesn't matter if I'm on tour, out of the country, they're out of the country (Lex is studying in Japan now), I'm too busy, or don't have much new to say, I love putting a pen to a card and staying connected. Hallmark must love me, as I send probably 100 cards a year plus about 150 to family and friends on their birthdays.
Mikkel's daughter, our granddaughter, Reagan, is the latest of our family's blessings. How can a 2-and-a-half year old be so loving, interesting and funny? As I say about my wife, all I can think is that God was having a great day.
I'm not the best husband, father, grandfather or veterinarian, but I always try to be — and I take specific steps to get better and better at it. I'm blessed richly for my efforts.
If I were forced to be the best at just one thing, it would be "husband," as all my other gifts flow from the rich relationship I have with my beloved Teresa. Just as I often comment that there's only one greatest pet in the world and every family has that animal, there is only one greatest woman in the world — and I've got her.
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