He grew up with two parents who never had much money, but worked their fingers to the bone to keep the family together. They lived on farms, where he rode on the back of a motorbike clinging to Dad, where he learned to throw calves and shoot rabbits and fish like a man possessed.
He was always mature for his age, a little gullible because he wanted to believe the best of people, steadfast and loyal.
He went through his silly teenaged years, causing his poor mother more than one anxious moment, although she maintains she doesn't remember any of that.
He pranged his motorbike so spectacularly one day, that his Uncle Terry, who saw it happen, was convinced he was dead; but he got up and limped away with minor cuts and bruises. The bike was the only casualty that day.
He worked as hard as his parents from the time he was big enough, picking, pruning and packing fruit in the Murray River district mostly. He left school at 15 and went to work full-time, sometimes for his parents and sometimes for other growers. He worked 2 jobs at a time, haring between them on yet another bike, and making barely enough money to keep him in spare parts.
At 18 years old, he made a decision to move to Western Australia, to the mines. He packed up, moved to a God-forsaken little town in the desert, and got a job working as a mill-rat. Before long, he entered a mining training program, and began acquiring the skills that would see him through the majority of his working life.
He partied hard. He got himself into a spot of bother once or twice, and learned from the experiences.
When I met him, he was soon-to-turn-20, and seriously cute. We became friends almost right away, and before long, I counted him as my best friend forever.
He met a woman, had kids, got married, and then divorced. I moved away, went through a series of bizarre relationships and trials. We never stopped thinking of each other.
He rang me one night, came to see me a week or so later, and within 2 days had asked me to marry him. I said yes, of course. That was nearly 10 years ago.
And today, this wonderful man, who is honest, and brave, and clever, and funny, and loyal, and steadfast, and sexy, and capable; who is the best husband and dad anyone could ever hope for, turns 40.
We're not having a big party, because he flies out of the country tonight, back to the job he hopes will give him the chance to make something of himself, in the field of work he loves so much.
He leaves at home a little group of people who think he is, quite simply, The Best.
Happy birthday, my lover.