Claudia Kaegi Smith.
My life companion, best friend, wonderful mother of our children, patient long-suffering partner, and now my wife.
Where should I start? At the beginning is probably the best place.
We’ve been together for over twenty years. I first met her in the office pretty much by coincidence. I had just moved to Zurich from London and we were working in the same building. I noticed this wonderful, beautiful, natural woman - blonde, 6 ft tall. She looked like a future trophy wife!
My work colleagues told me that I was almost certainly out of luck – she must be married already. Nevertheless I persevered and invited her to a party that I was hosting. I sent out an email to a list of people and included her, hoping that she would either respond or come along. She responded, asking if I had made a mistake and I replied that it was not a mistake, I wanted to invite her. I then went to her office to introduce myself in person.
She came to the party and that was the start of it all. The next weekend I arranged to meet her in Zurich for dinner. I got into the car and set off in the snow, confident that my four-wheel drive car would have no problem in the conditions. I think I got to the second corner before the car left the road and slid down into a field, narrowly missing a tree. Amazingly I was unhurt and with the help of a local farmer, I got back into the car and made it to Zurich in time for dinner.
Sensibly, she later advised me to move closer to Zurich where the trip to work would be so much easier.
Over the next few years, she waited patiently and without complaint as I worked first in Amsterdam for 9 month, and then moved to Chicago for 2 years to do my MBA at business school. All the time she was left behind, while I went travelling. Finally in 2002 after graduating we moved together to London where she found us an amazing house to rent close to Islington, despite my attempts to choose something unsuitable.
We had some great times, including a memorable road trip to Wales stopping off at Portmeirion for the night and a beautiful trip to Scotland taking in Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye.
In 2005, we moved back to Switzerland and I went to Holland again for 9 months to work. Once again Claudia waited patiently in Zurich and we only saw each other once or twice each month.
The following year I was able to move back and we celebrated with a road trip down to Marbella to visit some friends. As always it was an adventure, made special by my beautiful companion.
Finally in 2008 we settled down and bought a house together in Switzerland where we have lived for the last 10 years.
As always Claudia’s sense of style and taste has been superb and she has been responsible for the design of many of the improvements which have really made the place special. She has a real talent for knowing what will work and achieving it on a sensible budget.
In 2011 our lives changed forever with the birth of our twin boys. Despite a very difficult pregnancy where she was often sick and confined to bed, Claudia was as uncomplaining as ever.
Since then she has really excelled as the most amazing mother to the boys, and also as a teacher, schooling them at home for the first year of kindergarten where they developed great skills in reading and writing, well ahead of their schoolmates.
So now, here we are. Twenty years has passed; Claudia still looks fantastic (I don't know how she does it) and is as patient and uncomplaining as ever.
She has saved me from myself on so many occasions. She has helped me and advised me. She has saved me vast amounts of money and huge amounts of stress!
She is a wonderful mother to our children and an honest and genuine friend.
Claudia, thanks for everything. Thanks for your patience and priceless advice.
Here’s to the next twenty years!
All my love, James xxx
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