On February 10, 1991 a young man, namely me, Chato Stewart, asked a young woman, namely my wife, Joan Winifred, to marry me…or maybe I should’ve asked as the caption of the The Family Stew cartoon says: “will You… let me drive you crazy?!”
At the time, 1991, neither of us knew or realized that this partnership would face and endure a chronic challenge…an illness: bipolar disorder among other challenges. When proposing I actually got down on both my knees…and this illness of mine, at times, had brought her to her knees as well. Over the years, but that is a story for another time. Let me tell you about what led up my proposal.
I had been trying to propose to her for about 3 weeks. I had the ring yet things weren’t falling quite into place like planned…unexpected stuff and she got sick with a bad cold that Winter. Waiting for her to get well and that just right moment for this special event of popping the question. Things just did not line up and that ring was a heavy secret to keep from her. I already did right by her, and asked her Father permission to marry his daughter; now I just had to ask Joan.
Anyway, one evening… and my roommate and I were hanging out..goofing around with a huge video camera coming up with skits…like young people do today with their hand-held, small phones… we were laughing and having a lot of fun. When my roommate came up with this so-called clever idea to have a fake proposal, a “Joanie reject me” video and we capture it on camera to submit to America’s Funniest Video to win $10,000. The goal, Joan was meant to humiliate me, as my roommate videoed the whole thing..however, this proved to be the surprise setting I needed and plus, we could get it on camera as a keepsake. Without telling them, I ran in the other room, opened the cookie jar where I kept the diamond ring (of course, it was in a cookie jar LOL) and ran back in and my roommate started recording the “fake” proposal.
So, the goofing around joking got serious fast…when I got down on 2 knees and pulled out a real diamond with a “real” serious marriage proposal. She got quiet..yeah, and 25 years later here we are.
We did not know about bipolar, manic depression back then, but not long thereafter–we would be facing it head on. Though, it would be years until we had a label for what was going on with me mentally.
I love my wife. I truly am “crazy in love with her,” in so many ways which makes that a very true statement.
I usually don’t like to use the term “crazy” but when it come to loving my wife, she really drives me crazy..and I her. Maybe that is one secret to a successful marriage? To have such a deep love for each other that no matter how bad things get, you know deep down there is: true love and enough compassion to get you through the tough times bipolar can bring.