Don’t take my word for it.
John Reilly will tell you he is “The Most Unromantic Man in America.”
“I’m a chronic and habitual underachiever when it comes to birthday/Christmas/anniversary gifts for my wonderful wife,” he confessed to me in an email this week.
Vacuum cleaner for Christmas? “Oh, I’ve done that,” John told me over the phone.
It’s not that wife, Carol, didn’t make suggestions over the years.
Holding hands? That worked. “At least until the time my palms started sweating,” John said. “Public displays of affection make me uncomfortable.”
And so it was. John knowing he won the wife jackpot, but John not doing much to express his love. For 25 years.
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Until last year.
Something started to shift. John can’t say, exactly.
Their two kids growing up and moving out?
John decided to take a risk — by taking a picture. Actually, a lot of pictures.
A year of pictures to make a video for YouTube.
“Happy 25th Anniversary. It’s June 1st, 2016,” John says as he looks into a camera mounted in his car. “I’ve never been the most romantic guy. What if I could show you how often I think about you? Turns out I can, with this.”
He holds up a 17-by-23-inch white board.
“For the next year, I will do just that. I think I’ll start today.”
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“Happy 25th! 6/1/16,” he writes in big dry erase block letters, as the video cuts to the a new message every day after that.
“You’re a little mad at me today, but I still love you. 6/10/16.”
“Love you exactly 2 months more than when I started. 8/1/2016.”
Some play on puns.
Some make use of his cartoon skills with little drawings.
John gets mushier as the year goes on.
“My dream come true? Mine would be you. 10/14/2016.”
The daily messages go on until June 1 of this year: Their 26th wedding anniversary.
John says Carol never had a clue.
“How’d you show her the video?” I asked?
“I put it in an email sent it to her at work.
“At work?” I said, thinking of Carol getting the shock her life sitting at her desk.
“Sure,” said this ever-practical engineer.
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It wasn’t long before Carol texted John, “I’m sitting here bawling my eyes out.”
There you have it.
It’s possible for the most unromantic man in America to make his wife cry. Happy tears. Lots of them.
And though Carol got the love letter she’d dreamed of for more than 25 years, it looks like John is the one who ended up with the real gift.
Just by making the video.
“People lose sight of the little things while they wait for the big things to come,” he reflected, thinking of a quarter-century with the best person he knows. (11/14/16) “It’s really the little things that happen day by day that ultimately make your life fun and happy.”
To John and Carol, Happy Anniversary.
“26 down. Forever to go. 6/1/2017.”