• Bill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 10 15 21 - Julie Miller, the Stars in My Sky


Today is a very special day in Gratitude Friday history, it coincides with the day of birth of my darling wife, Julie Miller. Artist, science geek, culinary genius, and dog enthusiast. She has the most amazing smile in the solar system. I recall the first time I saw it; it melted my heart. It still does. There is nothing in the world like the smile of Julie Miller. Running the math on this and realizing we have been together for closer to two thirds of our lives than half. That I am grateful for. Decades of radiant smiles.


Our first meeting occurred when I was living at not much above minimum wage as a new counselor at an outpatient facility in the late 80s. I could not afford my own place, so I was renting a room from a guy she had known. He had a pick-up truck, and she was moving out of her parents’ home. I saw her and immediately offered to help. She tried to give me some money, and I refused. I did accept a meal at her new apartment, and I then asked her out on a date, she drove. On this first date, I witnessed her uncanny skills at Pictionary. I still know not how a softly drawn line equates to a meadow.


The second time I took her out, 32 years ago, the relationship nearly ended right there before it got off the ground when I pulled up in my fire engine red 1979 Chrysler Cordoba with fine (white) Corinthian leather. I had bought it for $100 and it had served its purpose at one point as a police undercover car. She saw it and for some reason didn’t want to get in. I am really glad she did. I am eternally grateful she tolerated that car and a few of my other disposal chariots along the road during that early era.


In those long ago days, she was working for an art dealer and doing commissions on the side as she studied and went back to school at Thomas Jefferson to be a cytotechnologist. She eventually graduated at the top of her class as student of the year. She is still the only person I know who enjoys organic chemistry. Our relationship grew. I recall some great times with her and her friends, particularly her best friend Marc who is gone now for many years. The early 90s were a time when we were figuring out life and the world we lived in as young adults. I am grateful we figured out that the world made the best sense explored, together.


We got married in a small ceremony and dinner at the Sun Inn in Bethlehem. We honeymooned in Scotland. Prior to us meeting, she had studied at the Glasgow School of Art, and she resolved to bring back whoever she met to explore the wonders of Scotland. That of course was me, and it was an amazing trip. At one point, she sang show tunes to some horses on the shores of Loch Ness, and they all came over from all around the pasture to hear her renditions of Sinatra. Classic Julie stuff.


We have seen a whole lot over the decades, we have been through thick and thin together. Exploring this beach pictured above in Vieques. We have seen Death Valley during a rare super bloom on Valentine’s Day. We toured through St. Magnus Cathedral in the Orkneys that contain the remains of her Viking ancestors as she can trace her linage back over a Millenia. I held her hand the morning before and the same night after she donated a kidney to her father, the best father-in-law ever. We have endured a pandemic together in the same house, with our dogs and emerged as close as ever. She has stood by me when I have experienced tough times and vice versa, always with the heart melting smile and easy nature. She even created and gave me this web site as a present to encourage my writing.


One of the most wonderful experiences I have had in recent years is being her roadie for art shows at local festivals. I always wanted to be a roadie and working to set up her tent with all of her amazing art paid the greatest dividend ever, I got to see hundreds of people experience her art on a daily basis. Seeing them walk into her space, where her internal artistic talents are out in the open for the world to see has been a highlight. People respond to what she can create. I am grateful that so many people have gotten to see her art.


Today is her birthday, and she has had a few birthday dinners this week. We shall go out for another this evening, and I will toast her with a non-alcoholic beverage, she may have a martini. If she wants another birthday dinner tomorrow night, I am all in! Please join me in wishing my peach, my sweetie, Julie Miller a happy birthday! She is what I am grateful for today and so many other days.


What are you grateful for today?

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