What should I write about after 42 years? There's so much to cover. Considering that most of it is boring to everyone else but us, I'll keep it brief.
Let me say at the outset that I have not been the easiest person to live with. Oh, you already guess that?
So what attracted me to Tom in the first place? Well, I thought he was handsome, obviously. But he was also soft-spoken, kind, funny and a real grown-up, very unlike my first husband.
Yes, I was married when I was nineteen and pregnant. To be honest, I only married him to get out from under my parents' thumb and I did for a short time. But, given that he was an immature buffoon who lost his job when he decided to skip work without even calling in and spent the day at his friend's house to help him work on a car for the drag races. He was really the last in a string of very poor choices. We lived together maybe 6 months max and our divorce was final 2 years to the day we married. Talk about universal closure.
When I met Tom, I was a mess. What he saw in me I will never know. I had a baby, I lived with my parents, I was immature and an emotional wreck. By contrast, Tom was independent, self-assured, mature, in the military stationed in Sunnyvale, California, and sharing an apartment with friends. We met through mutual friends.
When he called me for a date, I nearly fell off the arm of the chair where I was sitting. I thought he liked my younger sister.
During the time we dated, my parents tried very hard to dissuade Tom from getting involved with me. After all, I had a kid and was divorced and, therefore, not very worthy goods. They took every opportunity to remind Tom of the history I brought to the relationship. They often refused to babysit when Tom planned a day or evening out just to make sure he would be constantly reminded that I had a child. Tom was not easily dissuaded. When my parents wouldn't babysit, Tom would plan outings for the three of us. He loves kids and sincerely enjoyed the time he spent with Mike. Every single time we went somewhere...the drive-in movies, the park, the mountains, the beach, the lake...I would just marvel at how lucky I was, but deep down I was confident it wouldn't last long. I had adopted my parents' assessment of my worth.
Long story shortened, I got pregnant (yes, again) and was prepared to lose Tom at that point, certain he would walk away with a thanks-but-no-thanks attitude. Not so fast. He said he loved me and wanted to marry me. How about that? We married 42 years ago.
In the beginning, it was hard work. We both brought emotional baggage: my half a dozen steamer trunks worth to his duffel bag. Each year our marriage survived we celebrated with dinner out. It was a big deal. The ups and downs we overcame deserved celebratory high-fives and chest bumps.
Together, we've created a loving, respectful, supportive and fun relationship. Tom built a business. I built a career. We've raised two loving and talented sons and they have each married women who love them as much as I love their father and we have 6 beautiful grandchildren.
We no longer feel like giving each other high fives and chest bumps. It's gentler and quieter now. Easier, too. Tonight we'll have dinner at home. Tom is cooking my favorite pasta carbonara; I'm baking dessert. Later, we will probably watch a little tv then go to bed, cuddle up in our sleeping position and get ready for tomorrow.
We don't feel the need to celebrate, but rather pause and reflect on how fortunate we are to have spent almost a lifetime together and emerge more in love than when we first married.