Why I Love and Cherish My Blue-Collar Husband

Why I Love and Cherish My Blue-Collar Husband

His drive, dedication and focus outshine his work clothes every day.

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He comes home from work and I smell the scent of old copper pipes before he even walks into the door. His hands are calloused and rough from entire mornings and afternoons working under houses and his face is often smeared with black grease. I have to do laundry almost every day to keep up with the dirt he tracks in on his blue uniform. He is tired as soon as dinner is over and wakes up before anyone else in the house is even stirring. He is a plumber by trade, and a husband and daddy by choice and I am forever grateful for him.

If you were to ask my husband when he was 16, during the year that we first met in the halls of our local high school, what he wanted to be when he grew up, chances are he would have given you his trademark side grin and said he wanted to be an actor. In fact, he toured the campus of UNC Wilmington that year and seriously considered enrolling in their theater production and fine arts program. Yet, during the tour, he asked a current professor and professional actor one poignant question that changed the course of his life forever. "What is your family life like?" he had inquired. The man paused for a moment and replied "Especially at first, this job can be hard on a family. Acting is rarely stable. In fact, most days it's feast or famine. You either have a great gig that pays the bills for a few months or you're left waiting tables waiting on the next offer to come in. It makes it hard to provide for a family and be there for them when you're needed the most."

Upon hearing that, my husband almost immediately gave up any dreams of Hollywood and instead, went to North Carolina State University to major in business. At the time, he wasn't sure what kind of business he wanted to pursue, but a few years down the road, the answer fell into his lap. His 85-year-old grandfather was thinking of giving up the family plumbing business and wanted to know if he was interested in taking it over. A B.S. in Business Management under his belt, he agreed this would be a natural next step. He studied for, took and passed his state licensing exam. We moved back to our sleepy little hometown, I took a job as a technical writer and he became a professional plumber.

For five years, he went to his grandparents' house every morning, suited up in his blues, and helped his grandfather get into the old work truck. Together, they would help customers, fix leaky pipes, repair commodes, install water heaters and just about anything else that anyone needed to be done. We went shopping for steel-toe work boots, learned how to repair them on a dime and make them last as long as possible, and invested in long johns for the cold season when winterizing a home was enough to chill you to the bone. We became a working man's family, used to long hours, emergency repair calls in the middle of the night, and a hamper that always smelled of metal fittings.

The job gave his grandfather something to look forward to. It gave my husband a chance to spend time with his grandparents. His grandmother would fix them breakfast and lunch and they made some of their most sacred and cherished memories around that small, modest white kitchen table during our newlywed years. With a minor in graphic design, he helped modernize the company just a little, giving it a new logo, creating a magnetic sign for the truck, printing business cards and even creating a website advertising their services. Yet, at the core, the business still had the same heart. They were still the two local plumbers that would help an elderly woman fix a running sink at midnight or install a fleet of new commodes in a shiny new office building with equal gumption and drive.

Now, his grandmother is in a nursing home and his grandfather has moved into an assisted living facility, spending most of his day driving to see her and spend time with her in the shared, communal living room. They are preparing to sell their little house in the middle of town, the one where they shared so many meals during those formative years. It's the same place I would bring my babies in the afternoon to help make apple pie, watch television or raid their incredible ice cream stash. My husband manages the company on his own, though he plans to expand in the future. Turns out, it's just not as fun riding around in the work truck without your trusted companion and mentor by your side.

We have two children now, and every afternoon we wait by the old screen door to see papa pull into the driveway. Even though I'm sure his day full of manual labor was exhausting, overwhelming and stressful, he still finds the energy to stoop down to their level, swoop them both up into his arms and twirl them around on the driveway as the sun sets. He's our hero and we are blessed to call him ours.

Today and every day, I am grateful to be yoked to someone who knows the value of hard work, is dedicated to his craft and gives so much of himself on a daily basis to provide a comfortable life for himself and those he loves. No, it's not as glamorous as a cushy office job. Yes, there are days when I wish he was home at 5:00 on the dot, wearing a suit I didn't have to deep clean every evening. Still, I wouldn't trade this setup for the world. He works hard and loves deeply and that is a combination that is not easy to come by in today's society. We are forever thankful to be on the receiving end of such devotion and will work just as hard to make sure he feels equally cherished.

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An Open Letter To My College Freshman Roommate

Be sure to send this to your college freshmen roommate if you love them as much as I love mine!

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Dear College Freshmen Roommate,

To be honest, my first impression of you was a quiet, shy private catholic school girl. (Wow, this couldn't have been the farthest thing from the truth)! I remember walking behind you and your boyfriend on the way to the bars on our very first night of Summer B. I kept thinking how much you didn't like me because you didn't say hi to me. Little did I know, after admitting to each other our unfortunate first impressions of each other years later, you were just being cognizant of me because you thought I was a real-life version of Regina George from Mean Girls. It turns out you weren't the shy, private school girl I thought you were and I definitely wasn't as cool as Regina George after all.

Lexi Garber

It didn't take much time for us to become best friends. You had me at "So, do you know what a mountain melt is from Ale House?" After this day, I knew we were going to be lifelong friends and celebrate our passion for carbs, fast food, and sugar together. You make friendship seem so easy. You're always down to study whenever, leave the library whenever, and most importantly, get Chick-Fil-A no matter what our budget is or how broke we are. You always pick up the phone and support all the bad decisions I make. You ALWAYS figure out all my Wordscape puzzles for me and support my real life Candy Crush addiction.

Lexi Garber

I realize that you give me a slice of home when my mom doesn't answer the phone. I love that we always get to talk about our high school memories together because every story is a new and exciting one for both of us. Sometimes I'm happy we met in college because we would have caused way too much trouble in high school together. Besides, I get to hear about how much of an awesome volleyball player you were and I tell you about crazy my lacrosse years. Although, I will say how much it sucks when we go home for summer and winter break because I do get major separation anxiety!

Lexi Garber

When we go out, you know we're requesting ALL Luke Combs songs and sing until our voices are gone. Whether it be going out to the club, binge-eating, studying at the library, watching the Bachelor in your apartment, going to football tailgates or watching baseball games together, we are ALWAYS laughing. You have this amazing brightness and you only radiate positivity and happiness. I can't wait to see what the rest of college has in store for us. I feel so grateful that I got the chance to meet you and call you one of my true, lifelong best friends. I love you to Infinity (the place where it all began) and Back!

ROOM 416 INFINITY HALL ALWAYS!

Lexi Garber

Forever and Always,

your college freshmen roommate



Lexi Garber



Lexi Garber

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Different But The Same: Navigating My Life as One of Three Siblings

I couldn't be more different than my two siblings, but on some levels we're more alike than I thought.

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I am the oldest of three lively, loving and faithful siblings. My sister is seven years younger than me and my brother is nine. Two of us shared a room growing up, and the other lived just down the hall. In a lineup, we're unmistakably related. We share the same nose from our grandfather, the thin hair of our great-grandmother and the thick Italian eyebrows of our mother.

Deep down, we're all cut from the same cloth. Our moral compass, foundation and background are the same. We'd answer alike if you were to ask us our favorite childhood memory, how an elder should be treated, what to say and do at the dinner table and what is essentially right and wrong. All three of us are driven academically, hunger professionally and seek to mine the most good out of every day. Yet, on paper, we couldn't be more different.

Take my sister, for instance. She's the librarian at our local elementary school. We can't go to the local diner, the swimming pool or even walking down the road without scores of children recognizing her, running up to her and giving her a bear hug. There are entire circles of people who only know me for who I am in relation to her. I'll admit, when she first got that position, I went the entire summer long feeling as though I were walking in her shadow, though I eclipse her by half a decade of experience. There's a reason she's so well-known and loved, though. My sister is unfailingly kind, generous with her time and attention and genuinely invested in the young people she serves. She devours books, classic television shows and the family homeplace she shares with her high school sweetheart turned husband.

Then, there's my brother. He was in middle school when I got married, so our time together as adolescents was shorter, but we're more alike than it may seem. It's from him that I got my love of folk music, thrifting and antiques. He's an avid environmentalist and programs coordinator for our local arts council. In a world obsessed with smartphones and tiny screens, he takes walks with his fiance with a dictionary in hand, discovering new words and worlds as they travel. They hike every weekend, hole up and work on crosswords at their tiny cottage in the woods and spend all the time they can in their favorite mountains. In fact, they will likely relocate there or to the west coast when they tie the knot this September. He's outdoorsy, worldly and hyper-aware of how every decision he makes affects the world.

That bring us to me. Though I'm older than both of them in age, I feel as though I fall right in the middle of my brother and sister in terms of our interests and ideals. Like my brother, I love being outside and spend as much time in nature as possible. Yet, as the mother of two, I depend on disposable diapers and eat off paper plates to save time and money. Like my sister, I love nothing more than curling up with a great book, but as a technical writer and proposal manager, my life has me behind a screen more often than not. I read on my laptop into the wee hours of the morning, though like her, I spend many hours reading board books to children myself, though it's in the comfort of my home and not the local library.

At our core, we're wildly unique but I love the common thread woven between all of us. I love that our parents treated us all the same and made sure that what they did for one, they did for another. We all grew up feeling cherished, protected and loved beyond measure and for that, I'm eternally grateful. As we grow older together, we're learning from each other, exploring each other's interests and cultivating our own personalities in the process. It's a beautiful thing, doing life with these two. Thankfully, we all live within three miles of each other, so we get to unfold daily mysteries together on a regular basis. I couldn't imagine a better way or place to live.

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