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Posts Tagged ‘love’

No sooner does one member leave the extended family than another (bless her) joins it.

May’s a big month for weddings; and by and large, the men in my immediate family seem to favor it.

Not sure there’s any deep-seated reason for that. Maybe we all want to get things over with as soon as the weather’s favorable, and early enough that our summers stay free. Or maybe, generation after generation, some occult hand keeps our venues of choice free in May so we can each find an open date.

Anyway, my older brother is the latest to board the May train. By the time you read this, he will be two days married. I am flying out to San Francisco to be there for the big day, and am much looking forward to it. (The big day, not the flying.)

I’ve been on the same train a while myself. Two days after this post goes live, I will mark my 20th wedding anniversary. My wife and I were only a year out of college when we got married, and I suspect we chose our date so our friends who were still in school could come out and join us before they scattered for the summer.

My grandpa and grandma picked the first half of May as well, for reasons lost to history. They were married for almost 60 years.

This week’s calendar entry finds them at the same point in time I’m at now:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

May 3, 1961. I wonder where they went out to eat.

I would love to be able to tell you how to make a marriage last for 20 years, much less 60, but I am devoid of wisdom or vision. I just get up every morning and go to sleep every night and somehow the years go by.

(Of course, many of my readers have been married longer than I have and have no need for my advice. I’m just saying that I searched my soul and found nothing. It’s happened before.)

My brother and his wife invited their friends and siblings to share their thoughts on love and marriage — to email them to the celebrant for inclusion in the ceremony. My thoughts didn’t figure into it, because I couldn’t come up with any.

I briefly considered inventing a friend for Eric and sending in something absurdly flowery: “Eric’s friend Hassan says, ‘Love is like a welter of gleaming pearls, radiant in their brilliance. No, diamonds!'” But then I decided that pranking my brother’s wedding ceremony was probably a classless thing to do, so I kept my mouth shut. Except on my blog.

I dunno. Maybe there isn’t a fancy formula or mission statement that captures the soul of marriage. Maybe it’s different for everybody. Or maybe the secret is buried so deep in the stream of days and months that it’s hard to see.

At any rate, whatever it takes to keep two people happy together and pulling in the same direction, I hope my brother and his wife discover it together.

And I hope it only seems like months before they go out for their own 20th anniversary.

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I think after last week’s screed, I’ll write something inoffensive about home and hearth this time around. Disaffected patriots are a dime a dozen on both sides of the aisle, anyway.

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On a shelf in my parents’ basement sits a small box, labeled in my dad’s hand with words to this effect:

Rod & Lynn Love Letters (Yech)”

When I was a small boy who loved poking around in the basement, I was young and daft enough to read a few of the letters my parents exchanged before their marriage. I don’t remember what they said any more, and wasn’t really old enough to understand them anyway.

(OK, one letter I can’t help but remember. It was the mid-1960s, and my mom was going to college in Boston. My dad had the cheek to address a letter to her at “Boston University, Somewhere Near Where The Strangler Is, Boston, Mass.” I would later inherit his blue eyes and his black sense of humor.)

The time period of my grandfather’s calendars — 1961 to 1975 — trace my dad’s evolution from high school senior to married father of two.

And in so doing, it provides the occasional awww-isn’t-that-sweet glimpse of my parents when they were young and in love … just like the letters inside the yech-box.

The glimpses look kinda like this:

January 21, 1967.

January 21, 1967. (Coincidentally, Albert DeSalvo – who claimed to be the Boston Strangler – was convicted of other, unrelated crimes earlier that week.)

I didn’t ask my folks whether they remember anything about their trip to New York for an engagement ring (however exotic it might have been — were there no acceptable rings in Stamford?)

I guess I’d rather imagine what those days were like.

I can’t imagine them too specifically, of course, since I wasn’t actually there. My mental images of my young-and-in-love folks are kinda like cardboard figures, fleshed out somewhat by my knowledge of their personalities and my views of photo albums from those early days.

I know they were both musical, and that probably provided considerable common ground in their earliest days.

I know that they carried on much of their courtship more or less long-distance, without benefit of Skype or email, and made it last anyway.

I know they moved together, right after their marriage, to a place neither of them had much of any familiarity with, and found it a place to sink roots.

And I know that, despite their disparate personalities, they had some unquantifiable degree of interpersonal chemistry.

A bit of byplay at my folks' wedding rehearsal dinner. July 21, 1967.

A bit of byplay at my folks’ wedding rehearsal dinner. July 21, 1967.

Forty-six years after that calendar entry, the same ring is still on my mom’s finger. My parents have gone from being young soon-to-be-marrieds, to being the last couple standing when the wedding DJ starts clearing the dance floor a decade at a time.

It hasn’t always been easy (it never is), but some essential part of the compact they forged back in the mid-1960s is still alive. Something lives in the yech-box that has not been chased away by kids and job pressures and gray hairs and all the other pressures of adult life.

How ’bout that.

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