A few weeks ago Richard and I celebrated twenty eight years of marriage. I began the day in my usual fashion, out on the lanai having my quiet time with God. My husband was inside having his quiet time too, and through the open door I could feel the connection as we each experienced our own unique relationship with God. As I read my various daily reflections, the meaning of that day slowly sank in.
We had known each other for almost twenty nine years. I met Richard towards the end of July 1983, and we married on 24 March 1984. It was a bit of a scary time for me. I had been married once before for almost ten very unhappy years and it had been ten years since I had separated and consequently divorced that man. I had lived much of that previous marriage emotionally alone, and had become very independent and self-sufficient in the ensuing ten years. Oh, and did I mention that Richard is almost twenty years my junior??
I thought back to that time after Richard asked me to marry him and remembered how much praying and self-questioning I went through. I had also insisted that we speak with the priest and go through counseling, and then I went on a retreat to distance myself from the relationship for forty eight hours, just to have some clarity and see if I had any different thoughts and feelings about the situation. After doing everything I thought I should do to be sure of how I felt, we went ahead and married.
I sat there on the twenty fourth of March this year with a very full heart as I traveled back in time, and the prevailing thought was “where had all those twenty eight years gone?”. The words from a well-known Christian song came to mind: “in the blink of an eye”. As I said goodbye to Richard that morning (he had a day-long class he had to attend), I remembered our first real kiss. It had me blushing for a moment because it was a very incredible and passionate kiss and I remember thinking that I could just have floated off in that kiss all those years ago. But it was also a very tender kiss, and I think that’s what sold me on Richard from the very first – he was such a tender person. Tender-hearted as a person as well as tender towards me, and others.
If I needed any other evidence of the years we have been together, we have a twenty seven-year old daughter, Melissa, who is proof-positive that all those “blink-of-an-eye” years really existed. I remember very well appearing in a play, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, when I was about six months pregnant with her, and my eldest son, Marco, from my first marriage, break dancing day in and day out during the pregnancy. Melissa was born to the rhythm of break dance.
While Richard was in class, I got on with my day and couldn’t help but notice in great detail the contents of our home, which is something between an art gallery and a curio shop. There are paintings and photos all over the walls. The paintings come from many different places that either Richard has travelled to during his years in the Navy or that we both have travelled to together. Then there are the statues and figurines that cover every shelf and available surface throughout the house. Many people are quite taken aback when they visit our home for the first time because of all “the stuff”. But everything is a joyful representation of the years that we have been together and the memories that we have created.
When Rich came home from class, we got ready to go out and celebrate our anniversary. First we went to the El Apache restaurant to enjoy a delicious Mexican meal. With tummies pleasantly full we then headed over to the Thrasher-Horne Center for Arts to see a show. A few weeks earlier, at a silent auction fund-raiser at our church, we had won the bid on two tickets for The Peking Acrobats which were dated twenty four March. I think the only reason we bid on them was because the date was the same as our anniversary. The show was quite breathtaking and very exciting and it was a great way to celebrate the day.
However, we didn’t quite finish the celebrations at that point. Instead of heading home, Richard pointed the car in the other direction. You see, he has an absolute weakness for Shakes, a small drive up cubicle that sells shakes and sundaes made with frozen custard. And so we completed our evening enjoying our favorites: for Rich this was a strawberry milkshake, extra thick; for me it was a kiddy-cup with one small scoop of vanilla frozen custard topped with a healthy drizzle of caramel – yum. A perfect finish to a perfect evening, and here’s to number twenty nine!!
I love finding quotations that speak of love and friendship. Whenever I read them they remind of the great blessings I have in my many friends and the gift that I receive when someone loves me. I believe that these are human manifestations of what God feels toward us. So here are a few quotations that caught my attention and my heart’.
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” (Martin Luther King)
“Too many of us stay walled because we are afraid of being hurt. We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
“The supreme happiness of life is the conviction of being loved for yourself, or more correctly, of being loved in spite of yourself.” (Victor Hugo)
“For whoever knows how to return a kindness he has received, must be a friend above all price.” (Sophocles)
“Like everyone else I feel the need of relations and friendship, of affection, and I am not made of stone or iron, so I cannot miss these things without feeling, as does any other intelligent man, a void and deep need. I tell you this to let you know how much good your visit has done me.” (Vincent Van Gogh)
“Today a new sun rises for me; everything lives, everything is animated, everything seems to speak to me of my passion, everything invites me to cherish it.” (Anne De Lenclos)
“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow-ripening fruit.” (Aristotle)
And this last one I treasure most of all.
“Human love and the delights of friendship, out of which are built the memories that endure, are also to be treasured up as hints of what shall be hereafter.” (Bede Jarrett)
So as we approach Thanksgiving Day, I will offer a gratitude for all the people who love me and for the friendships that bring me so much joy.
Today I didn’t have to be anywhere. I had no appointments with anyone, nothing specific I had to do. Days like today are few and far between. Days like today are a gift, yet even as I draw a huge sigh of relief there is a part of me that dreads them.
The day slowly unfolds as I sit surrounded by nature and enjoy my morning quiet time and breakfast in the screen room. It is wonderful not to have any pressure to pick up the pace, get showered and ready, and be out the door. And yet I am vaguely aware of a sense of apprehension as the empty space of hours stretches in front of me.
Perhaps it is the Ying and Yang of me, that part of my personality that sits happily in contradiction with itself. I want to be free of any claims on my time and, at the same time, I need some form of structure to keep me going. When I am blessed with a day like today I usually find one of two things happening.
I will either start “meandering” from one room to another, never quite sure why I am there. Then something will catch my eye and I will be drawn to be involved. A short time later I will be reminded of something that needs to be done, or I will remember something that I wanted to do, and off I go to do it. However, on the way there, something else will catch my attention and I will be distracted into that activity. At the end of such a day I usually feel as though I have accomplished nothing even though I have been busy and on the go all day long!
Or I will feel quite guilty about the fact that I “have nothing to do” (that’s a joke in and of itself!!). I will think of my husband who “goes to work everyday”, as though the fact that I don’t have an outside job means I don’t do anything! This is old thinking and fortunately doesn’t plague me too often these days. But, the fact of the matter is that I then subconsciously start “organizing” myself and setting goals to accomplish by the end of the day (read, by the time my husband gets home!). And, bang, there goes my lovely “day for myself.
Today I determined was going to be different. I didn’t have a plan, although I kind of expected to spend a fair amount of time in the garden. I took my breakfast things from the patio to the kitchen half expecting to see something “catch my eye” on the way there. I didn’t notice anything in particular tugging at me, but as I put things away I had a clear thought: the craft room.
This is one of my special places to be, where I feed my artistic Muse by making cards. It has been “messy and disordered” (and therefore uninviting) since Christmas, and this state of affairs was not helped by a minor change in the layout of the computer room that my husband and I made a week ago, that involved removing a desk from the craft room. And so in that moment I decided that my gift to myself today would be to return my craft room to the inviting place that it should be.
It has been a great day. I cleared out a lot of boxes and made room for the new. I organized my work areas so that I actually had the space to work. By the end of the day not only did I feel like sitting down to make some cards, but I had also unearthed some memories. In fact, this piece of writing was originally titled “Musings: Sabbath with Georgina”. But I guess my mind had to do a little bit of “meandering” this evening, and I will write the Sabbath story tomorrow – maybe. This has truly been a day for me.