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 have been getting my notes together to write up several posts as promised in my last article. However, before I write those posts I need to write a small vignette that I experienced a week ago. My husband and I are Christian music fans and we had tickets to attend a concert in Jacksonville.
There were three acts. The opener was Trevor Morgan, a new voice on the Christian music scene and very talented. He was followed by the band 10th Avenue North which has been playing the Christian scene for several years now and have become very popular. To round out the evening in top billing place was a great band called Third Day who we had previously seen at Disney’s Night of Joy. This band has been playing together for about twenty years and I really like them. Their lead singer has a most unusual voice.
As we settled into our seats, I was sitting to the right of Richard, we were joined on Richard’s left by a young mother and her son. I guess the boy was about ten years old and it became fairly obvious that he was very excited to be at the concert. After a short conversation, we discovered that he was a die-hard Third Day fan and he could barely wait for them to come on stage.
The concert began and we all thoroughly enjoyed Trevor Morgan. I think we will be hearing a lot more of him in the future. Tenth Avenue North gave us a great performance and took us up to the interval. Richard went off to grab us some water, and the mother and son also left the auditorium. When they came back the boy was happily munching on a giant pretzel. His mother said he needed “replenishing before Third Day appears”.
After a few moments, she opened a bag and pulled out a couple of CD’s. With a certain air of wishful expectation, the boy asked her what she had bought and I heard her tell him that she had really liked Trevor Morgan and wanted to support him so had decided to buy his CD. She then went on to say she had really enjoyed Tenth Avenue North and didn’t have any of their music at home and wanted to get their CD too. I saw the boy’s expression drop somewhat at that piece of news, but then his Mom said, “but then I changed my mind and got the Third Day CD.”
It had been a while since I saw someone’s face light up in such a way. The boy gasped, his eyes opened wide, and this great big grin spread all over his face. He put his pretzel down and held both hands out for the CD. Smiling happily the mom handed it over and ecstatically the boy took hold of it and drew it in towards his chest. He sat there for a few moments without saying a word. He clasped the CD to his heart, his eyes were closed and a beatific smile spread from ear to ear. He was totally “in love” in that moment.
After a while, he opened his eyes and slowly began to examine the CD. It was as though he was holding a precious jewel. He lovingly stroked the front cover and I fully expected him to start drooling any minute. He carefully turned the CD over and I assume he was reading the song titles. At this point the mom said that she would put it back in the bag until they got home and she put her hand out to take it. But the boy clutched it, kissed it, and put it back to his heart, closing his eyes once again in sheer sublime happiness.
I was so in awe of this whole little scene that played out right there beside us, and just very impressed that this young man was so passionate about a Christian band. I was also grateful that he had a very loving and supportive mother. She gently explained that if he wanted to finish his pretzel he would need to let go of the CD and that it would be safer back in the bag. I also heard her say that he could play it as soon as they got into the car for the ride home. He reluctantly let go after a couple more kisses!!
Well he then had his heart’s desire fulfilled when Third Day took the stage and played practically non-stop for almost two hours. It was truly a remarkable performance and the boy stood in his seat for the entire time, eyes sparkling and singing along with the songs that he recognized. What a great evening we all had and I know I will remember that boy’s face forever.
Dear God, how awesome is your work!
As we drive through the rolling hills of Georgia and Tennessee,
the amazing canvass that you continuously create
unfolds before our very eyes, mile after never-ending mile.
Oh God, what fun you must have had.
Eyes ablaze with inspiration, sweeping color-laden brushes
across earth’s length and breadth,
perhaps an artist’s black beret perched askance upon your head.
And as the Muse’s smile spread over you face
you laid down all the vibrant hues of Fall.
(A touch of Michelangelo? Da Vinci? or Van Gogh?
You gave them all their talents Lord, thus you own their gifts.)
A rich and glowing riot of red and burnished gold
with blazing orange amidst patches of deep deciduous green.
Then here and there, as if to satisfy my passionate purple soul,
a bush or two in lustrous olive-violet or darkest aubergine.