— John Milton
From “Paradise Lost”
On Tuesday, I will have been married 36 years.
My wife, too.
For any who believe we must have eloped in our early teens because of how youthful the photograph appearing each week with this column makes me look (yes, that was a joke), I can assure you it ain’t so. Not that I spilled any beans on that full disclosure ... it’s just that these days age has become more of an inside joke.
Actually, it is kind of funny.
My wife and I got married on the same day. I have the paperwork to prove it. We were about the same age then. We still are today. Yet, something went wrong in the tuning process since those “I Do’s.” She still looks about mid-30s. I look about three days shy of prehistoric. Maybe that explains my Neanderthal ways.
The fact that we both get senior citizen teas nowadays at several area restaurants is no consolation. The point is, she gets carded. I get helped to the table.
Only once in my life has anyone called her my daughter and that came years ago when I was still a young man with thin waist, smooth skin and respectable hairline. Go figure.
All kidding aside, it’s times like these when those lyrics from R&B great Al Green come to mind, “Ain’t it funny how time slips away.” Since Al’s original, others have made a cool fortune with their own versions, folks like Willie Nelson in ’97, and the Dave Matthews Band in ... well, I couldn’t find the year by Googling. But I’m sure they did.
Truth be told, my wife is the best part of my life. She probably doesn’t think so. But then, wives don’t know everything. Just almost.
To quote that adage, “... she makes me whole,” would be the understatement of matrimonial history. I liken it more to the soft scene from the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” when traveling salesman Del Griffith, played by John Candy, is speaking to marketing executive Neal Page (Steve Martin) about his beloved wife. Now widowed for eight years, Del says of his feelings for his missing soulmate, “Love ... is not strong enough a word for how I feel about my Marie.”
Well said, Del.
But to Al’s point, time really is slipping away. Yet, what a wild and crazy ride it has been. And it just keeps getting better and better.
Thirty-six years and counting, and frankly I’d be a man on Cloud 9 if someone told me to expect 36 more. Of course, neither of us sees that happening. Side issues like mortality are the first that come to mind; that, and the rolling pin she keeps stored in the kitchen cabinets.
As life moves on, we accept its direction. We share it in full, the good and the bad. And for you young fellas out there still a little iffy on tying the knot because of perceived bads, let me say only this. In our years together, the goods have far, far outweighed the bads.
For those who need numbers when considering the benefits of marriage, try counting the particles of sand on a public beach. When pondering the bads, try counting the public beaches you’ve walked that are barren of a single footprint. You catch my drift; at least, that’s been my experience. I can speak only for me.
All hasn’t been perfect. But that’s the hidden beauty. It’s not supposed to be.
Marriage isn’t a measure. Marriage is a bond. Some call it a shared journey through life and that’s probably about right. You’ll get out of it what you put into it.
But for me, marriage is something more. For me ...
Marriage is a soothing end to a frantic day.
Marriage is an ear of patience and a voice of reason.
Marriage is a friendly face in a room of strangers.
Marriage is a concealed smile on the far side of a quiet table.
Marriage is a slow walk in the woods and a trusty umbrella in the rain.
Marriage is a sense of calm, a knowing silence and sometimes just a whisper.
Marriage is buttered popcorn, a funny movie and stories all the way home.
Marriage is TV dramas, half-hour comedies and knowing when to put the remote away.
Marriage is reading for pleasure and sharing the chores, both inside and out.
Marriage is cheesecake striped with strawberry topping and covered in whipped cream.
Marriage is smiley-faced notes on the refrigerator door.
Marriage is not just listening, but hearing the words.
Marriage is tolerating the vent, then easing the pain.
Marriage is a two-way forum for saying what is needed, not always what is wanted.
Marriage is a cleansing of the spirit and a warming of the heart.
Marriage is wiping away the tears of joy and their sisters of sadness.
Marriage is a common courtesy practiced in private as in public.
Marriage is a partnership, a friendship and a never-ending courtship.
Marriage is a spice of life best flavored by those who give it a fair chance.
Marriage is this, marriage is that and marriage is the other thing. It isn’t the only thing and it isn’t everything. And it isn’t for everybody.
But it is for me.
Happy Anniversary, my love!
Wow, is it really 36 years?
Ain’t it funny ...