"What am I living for, if not for you?" How many times have you heard that line spoken from the heart?

I take this as an opportunity to speak gratitude about the three most influential experiences in my life: God, wife and family.

I am getting close to twelve half-decades, but three score sounds like it is less. I am fortunate to breathe as I write these words.

I discovered long ago that the Creator of my world is the most important influence in my life. My birth family has always been second only to the Almighty, until I met my wife. I was immediately enchanted by her gorgeous smile and intelligence. She has been my first wife for about 35 years.

I say first because I try my best and worst to keep her in first place, in my heart and in my deeds. Honestly, I have failed sometimes because life is difficult sometimes. But I do try to keep her in her place of honor.

If you figure the fact that husband and wife become one, then other family members retained second place after my Creator. That is a neat trick if you can pull it off. I have survived the Vietnam War, defects, deficiencies, faults, errors, mistakes, wrong choices, poor judgment, being wrong, talking out of turn and other things that I try to forget.

These things all led me to atonement. We as humans have the responsibility to make up for the mistakes due to lack of experience or just plain futility.

If you have a second chance, then you are extremely lucky. Take advantage of opportunities that come your way. Sometimes we do not see the opportune moments because we are distracted by life's hurts or inattentive to our surroundings. Just think, and put attention in your mind.

This is a tribute to my wife and all the great women like her. She keeps me on the straight and narrow. She is my conscience when the moment demands it. Like most men, I will lose focus because life gets in the way.

We have disagreements and we have had powerful rough times and survived. Life makes her so unusual and superior to any dream that I could have of a good wife. How can life not be good, many times even great, with what society calls "your better half?"

It is true that in certain cases a person can be incomplete without their soul mate. I was fortunate like my parents, who were married for 59 years and only death was able to separate them.

I know that we have lived through our peaks and valleys, but that is what married, family life is about. Making glue that keeps family together is a lifetime commitment. Realize that it is a work in progress.

Human relationships, like plants, will die if you do not provide water, sunlight and nurture them in some way. I could share the fruits of our labor, but that is another story.

Joe-Santos Medina is a resident of Robstown. Readers may contact him via email at joesantosm@hotmail.com.