In exactly twenty-four hours Art and I will be at the airport. At about this time I will swallow my little white pill, which will help me to get through the rest of the day. My hands and feet will probably be a little clammy. (They usually warm up when the pill kicks in).
But it would be better for me to skip the part about how we get to Connecticut and to concentrate on how it will be when we get there, because apart from my well-known reluctance to fly, I am actually looking forward to this trip.
Among other reasons for our going, we will be there to visit Art’s parents. (I’m not going to use their names because I don’t want to embarrass them). They will be celebrating their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary this month. No, that’s not a typo. I mean that Art’s parents got married in 1939. Before World War II. When FDR was in office. And miraculously, over those sixty-five years, they have never separated. This is one long, continuous love affair. No doubt there have been bumps along the way, but isn’t that what makes life interesting?
I wish I knew the secret, but I do have a few theories.
First, you start out with a great big helping of romantic love. It doesn’t hurt to have a little parental opposition thrown into the bargain, or maybe just a hint of secrecy. That gives you forward momentum. And these “kids” were young, gorgeous, energetic, and determined. (I’ve seen the pictures of them at that age – they looked like they were from Central Casting. The chemistry is obvious).
Second, it doesn’t hurt to be born into an era that values perseverance and integrity above all else. They may have been the originators of the homily: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. My in-laws didn’t buy anything “on time”. They believed in saving up their money until they could afford to pay cash. They shared common beliefs about work. They shared beliefs about how to raise their kids. They agreed never to fight in front of the children long before Dr. Phil was around to spread the gospel. They took full responsibility for their lives. I think they could have chimed in with Harry Truman when he said, “The buck stops here”. Let’s compare that to the current atmosphere in Washington. Hmmmmm.
Third – They still hold surprises for each other. They have not forsaken their individuality and merged into one. Somehow (and I think this is tricky) they’re like the States in the United States. Each of them has sovereignty, and yet each of them is part of the larger whole. They consult each other on important matters, but they still have the power to make decisions independent of each other. There’s still a little mystery – even a little conflict from time to time that makes the sparks fly. How wonderful!
Over the years they’ve developed a very deep trust. When things get hard, they turn toward each other, instead of away. The relationship has become so much more than the sum of its parts. They are the best of best friends.
Every now and then when we visit, I will see them holding hands under the table like a young, newly engaged couple. And I realize that marriage does not mark the end of the engagement, just the formal beginning.
© 2004, Robin Munson