Ten Minutes to Eternity


I love my husband. More than I did when I fell in, first lust, then love, with him forty-eight years ago. We were so young, headstrong, and sure of ourselves. We didn’t think about how getting married a year after we met would impact our lives, our families, or our future. We wanted to be together. And back then, even in the midst of the hippie free love era, we didn’t want to give in to the urges we had, we wanted to be a permanent couple. We wanted to belong to each other. So we ran away to elope on a hot June day. But no one would marry a nineteen year old boy and a sixteen year old girl. I ended up living with his parents while he lived in an apartment until my parents sent the papers for us to legally marry.

It was a warm, sunny, Sunday afternoon in August of 1971 when we married at a small church in Mill Valley, California. The reverend wasn’t happy about marrying two young people, but we made it clear if he didn’t we would find someone who would. Between Sunday services, we met at the church along with his parents, brothers, a friend of mine, and the reverend. In a span of about ten minutes, we were joined together as husband and wife. It was peaceful, and the only music was provided by the nesting sparrows outside the refectory.

After a few required signatures, photos, and a handshake from the reverend, we all went back to his parent’s house. They were, naturally, not in a party mood, so the Mr. and I changed into our jeans and boots, jumped on the Harley and headed down Miller Avenue to the local Jack in the Box burger joint for a meal. We rode over the Camino into Corte Madera and back along the back roads to Mill Valley. Later, we drove into San Francisco to the Hyatt for our wedding night. And that is all I have to say about that, other than we were both very happy, very in love, and very compatible. It was a beautiful day.

The next day we loaded up the Harley with our camping gear and headed to the Sierra Nevada Mountains to do some panning for gold for our honeymoon. It was a blissful few days, filled with laughter and the joy of knowing we were meant to be together forever. Eventually, we had to go back to the real world and face life as new adults. School, work, scrambling for money, paying bills, all that went with that set us apart from our friends our age. At the same time, we still had fun just being a young couple in love.

Years rolled by, children came, struggles came and went, we lost our oldest son, and we gained our first grandchild followed by more. Like all couples, we had our years of falling out of love and getting lost in the minutia of life, but we always found our way back to each other. And here we are, forty-eight years later, still married, still in love, and we still have that spark that brought us together all those years ago.

I love my husband. More than I ever thought I would. I don’t know where the years went so fast, but I know we lived every last one of them together. God willing, we will have untold years ahead. Who knew a ten minute ceremony would lead to eternity?

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What’s Up With That?


People are strange. Maybe it is because I am old, but I find human behavior baffling, and sometimes, annoying, on a daily basis. Everyone is so tied up in themselves or something that they don’t seem to see the world around them, or participate in the moment. I will keep people watching, I can’t help it. I don’t even have to go to a zoo to watch their behavior, it is all played out right in front of me. For instance:

I noticed a woman driving in car, holding her phone as she talked into it. Nothing new about that, but she was also waving her other hand around as she talked. What I wanted to know was how she was driving the car if both hands were busy? Was she using her knees to steer, her feet, or was a short person in her lap steering while she talked with her hands? With all the pot holes in the streets of Memphis, she was taking a real chance on wrecking if she didn’t have some sort of hold on the steering wheel. What’s up with that?

I have noticed that a lot of folks talk on their phones like that. They hold them flat, talking into one end held close to their mouths, while listening to the speaker – generally on as loud as it can be. I call it the pizza talking position, as if they are going to take a bite of the phone. All of us in hearing range get to be spectators to the conversation. Conversations that, need I say, should be private. This is something that happens in very public places like restaurants and doctor’s offices. If I were one to gossip, the stories I could tell you would be shocking. What is up with that?

I have noticed, not that I could miss it if I tried, women of very round proportions wearing leggings on the verge of splitting. And yoga pants so tight that it is obvious to one an all exactly what kind of underwear they have on, or not. I, myself, am a well rounded woman. I am not standing in a position of a skinny Minnie fat shaming women. I simply cannot understand why anyone would want the world to see every single lump and bump of fat on their body. It is not pretty, sexy, or alluring, and it leaves them open to ridicule. Women of a particular size can be all those things without wearing clothing that points out all their less attractive attributes. But they don’t. What’s up with that?

I have noticed that any group of women, no matter what group, tends to get louder and more shrill as time goes by. Communication takes place on multiple levels. Verbal is the most obvious, followed by hand and body movements, but the most complex and interesting are the verbal tone and facial movements they make together. They can say a nice thing, but if you look at the raised eyebrow, the slightly off tone, the look they give one another, an entirely different meaning of the words they say comes forth. And the most interesting thing, is that men are oblivious to the Female Code of communication. Unless, of course, they are a metrosexual, emasculated male or gay. What’s up with that?

I have noticed that older couples often sit at a table in a restaurant and never speak to each other. They are on their phones, or simply ignore each other. Granted, some might simply be tired, or dealing with issues, but not everyone. And they don’t smile, at anyone. I can’t imagine not having something to talk about with my husband, even if it is nothing more that a chat about the kids or grandkids. I can’t imagine not smiling at people, especially cute little kids who always deserve a smile, or the servers who are working so hard. But they don’t. What’s up with that?

I am going to keep on people watching. I can’t help it. I keep seeing new ways that they astound and baffle me.

Listening To Him Sleep


I lay in bed listening to my husband sleep. I started thinking about the life we have shared over the nearly fifty years we’ve known each other. It hasn’t always been an easy partnership. Life has a way of making things difficult, painful, and sometimes, sad. We have loved long and hard, and sometimes, nearly hated each other just as much as we loved. We grew from young teenagers madly in lust with each other into adults who raised our boys, drifting along with, and sometimes away from, each other. But here we are, growing old together, still holding hands, still dancing in the kitchen to love songs, still laughing with and at each other, still loving each other. We still have dreams, ideas, and travels ahead of us, and we are all too aware that it could end in one last heartbeat of either of us.

Recently, my brother introduced me to a new singer, there are several songs on the album that I like, one, however, made me reach for the hand of the man I love. “More Of You” by Chris Stapleton. The words reached right into my heart and made me cry. In the past two years five of my long time friends and my mother have lost their partner or husband. Every one of them was a sudden, unexpected loss. All but one of these marriages was a long time relationship of between five and sixty years plus years. I have known these women for many, many years. One raised me, and the rest of us became close through friendship that led us together through good and bad, happy and sad events in our lives. Now, late at night they don’t have the blessing of lying next to the man they love listening to him sleep. It makes me hurt for them. And it makes me feel even more blessed than ever to know that the love of my life lies next to me.

I know as I look at him, sleeping and mumbling in his sleep, I hear the music and the words, “I fall more in love with you/ Than I’ve ever been….”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCcby6SVbJE

“More Of You”

When I think of you and the first time we met
And I heard the sound of your sweet gentle voice
My heart took me over and gave me no choice
And right then I knew

[Chorus:]
It makes me want more of you
Again and again
I fall more in love with you
Than I’ve ever been
From the moment you wake me up
Till you kiss me goodnight
Everything that you do
It makes me want more of you

When I look at you now that years have gone by
I think of the memories that time can’t erase
And all of the smiles that you’ve brought to my face
Your love’s been so true

[Chorus]

When I leave this earth you’ll be holding my hand
And it gives me comfort to know you’ll be there
And I’ll thank the Lord for the love that we share
You’re heaven to me

[Chorus]

Everything that you do
It makes me want more of you

Broken Memories


A Valentine for my husband of 46 years.  In all the years of pain, loss, joy, and happiness, we have fallen in and out of love many times.  Today, we have found each other again. And this is what came to mind today. I love you old man, I always have, even when I got lost in the sorrow.

Broken Memories

Memories of your arms

holding me, hands touching me

reaching for you, touching

broken memories.

Memories of laughter

sunshine days, warm nights

gentle loving,

touching broken memories.

Memories of joy

memories of contentment

careful words, giving

broken memories.

Memories of loneliness

memories of emptiness

memories of needing you

lost in broken memories.

Memories of growing old

lost and alone

finding you in my heart

mending broken memories.

Reaching for your arms

touching your love

finding warmth

leaving behind broken memories.

Every Day Heroes


A friend told me about an accident she and her husband came upon the other day. A car was on fire, and someone was trying to get out. Her husband jumped out of their vehicle and ran to help him get out, stayed with him until medical people arrived to fly the injured driver out to a hospital. Her husband was banged up a bit, but fine. Everyone was commenting on how much of a hero he was for helping and putting himself at risk. She demurred. I wrote in her comment section the following.

“Heroes are every day people who do extraordinary things without worrying about the consequences.”

I thought on that later, and I have come to the decision that all of us are everyday heroes during our lives. Often we don’t think of our actions as heroic or special. We simply react to what is happening in the best way we can. Sometimes it is helping someone survive a horrific accident. Sometimes it is taking soup to a sick friend. Sometimes it is a listening ear, and sometimes a swift kick in the attitude of someone having a pity party.

Saving a life is a big deal. It is a lot of responsibility and takes someone with inner strength of steel and granite to do what has to be done. Pulling someone out of burning building, out of the twin towers; running into the line of fire to rescue someone, standing up to the local bully to protect someone; leaving the abusive spouse, male or female, and taking the children with you; moving back home to take care of aging parents and giving up your plans to raise a child you didn’t expect to raise. All of those are heroic things. It takes guts, selflessness, and a willingness to deal with unforeseen consequences due to your actions to fulfill the title of hero.

Some people have jobs that are more like callings which are intrinsically heroic. Fire fighters, Law enforcement, Military men and women, Emergency Medical Personnel, are all in highly dangerous occupations. People are willing to accept those dangers. They train and work hard to gain the skills to do their jobs to the highest degree of proficiency. They are heroic in going out into the harsh world and fulfilling their duty.

Some people are heroes for taking on responsibility that they didn’t sign up for in their lives. They don’t run into burning buildings or chase down criminals, nor do they go out and put an end to evil regimes that threaten their countries and ours. These are the average moms and dads who sacrifice career advancements, educational opportunities, and being upwardly mobile so that one of them can stay home and raise their children. These are the single moms and dads, who, for whatever reason, are raising their children without benefit of a spouse. These are the single parents who are working, going to school full time, and being a mom or dad too. They could easily drop the kids into the system, hand them off to grandparents or other family members, but choose to be the mom and dad, provider, and give up personal time to be the best parent they can be.

There are heroes who teach, guide, lead, discover, and reach out to students who are on the verge of becoming another statistic to the poverty, gangs, and violence of their cultural world. Older men and women who set out to be an example to younger men and women, becoming a mentor and someone who believes in a young man or woman who has never had an advocate for their potential. And some heroes who coach and shape young people into strong, independent, thinking adults become the silent hero in the lives of the lonely, lost, and ignored. Most of them never know they made a difference just by their example.

And there are the every day people who reach out to everyone around them with friendship. Sometimes all it takes is just one person to change the life of another in a positive way after the slings and arrows of life has beaten them down. To the one they helped, they are doing something extraordinary. They cared enough to encourage someone on the abyss to keep going, not to give up, and ask for nothing in return. Sometimes all it takes is one person, just one, to change the trajectory of the world for another lost or grieving soul. Who is your hero?

Every day people, doing extraordinary things . . . think about it.

Husband at the Nail Salon


Today I made a memory, well actually, we made a memory, my man and I.

The weather has been horrid for the past several days, well below freezing and there is still ice everywhere on the roads. I managed, some how, to break one of my fingernails. I am not a vain woman for the most part, but I do like to have pretty nails. Since the nail salon was still open, but he didn’t want me driving on slippery roads, my husband drove me to the salon, and to keep from freezing to death, went inside with me.

Like most Saturday afternoons, it was pretty busy. But not as packed as usual since the roads were bad. We had to wait for about twenty minutes before they got to me. He came prepared with his Kindle and his tablet to kill time while waiting for me to get finished. It always take about an hour to get my nails back to perfection. He patiently sat and waited, no fidgeting, no complaining, no deep sighs or any of his other signs of dissatisfaction. Meanwhile, the shop slowly filled up.

The woman doing my nails asked if my husband wanted a manicure, I explained he was just waiting for me since he didn’t want me to drive on the bad roads. She, and the two women on either side of me thought he was pretty special to do that. I don’t think he noticed all of us glancing at him as we discussed why he would do such a thing. The lady on my right sighed, “He must really love you. How long have you been together?” I told them I met him when I was 15 and married him when I was sixteen. Neither family thought we would last, but here we are 46 years later. The lady on my left, did the “isn’t that adorable” coo women make when something touches their heart. The woman working on my nails smiled, “You so lucky, Ma’am.”

Apparently, she told her co workers in their language what was going on. All the women looked at me and smiled. Then all looked at my totally oblivious husband who was lost in his book. Then all of us did the woman’s coo thing. A round robin of chatting took place with women commenting on how long they were married, and how they didn’t have a man who would treat them with such sweetness. After a few minutes, everyone went back to their business. But glances were cast at my husband and myself every so often as the news filtered around the room.

When I was nearly done, I asked my husband to come take a look at the color I had chosen. They were the color of a stormy winter sky with sparkles. He loved them. Said they looked like I had stars on my nails. Everyone around me giggled. The lady on my right winked at me, the lady on my left sighed, “He is a keeper, honey.” I agreed.

When he went to pay for my nails, a lady who was waiting looked at me with shock. “That man your husband?” I said he was. “And he payin’ for your nail without getting mad?” I said he was. “Girl, you all gotta be newlyweds.” I laughed, “No, we’ve been married for 46 years, and he is almost house trained.” She laughed out loud.

My husband always helps me on with my coat. Always. Just like he always opens doors for me, and helps me up and down stairs. He is, quite frankly, a real gentleman. I know, quaint. But it is one of the things I love the most about him. When he helped me on with my coat, every single woman in the place was watching. When he hugged me, and then opened the door for me and offered me his arm, like he always does, every woman in that room collectively sighed and did the woman coo thing. I smiled to myself, feeling, a bit smug. But also, grateful for the man I love and the gentleman he is. And he never once noticed he was the center of attention of at least thirty women. It is a good memory. It will still make me smile years from now.

Dancing in the Kitchen


We were newlyweds living in a house built in the 1800’s up in the hills above Mill Valley, California. We were deeply in love, but still adjusting to each other. It was a bad day, we had argued off and on all day about silly things. He made me cry, I made him swear. It was a typical lover’s spat made worse because we were so young, both of us were still teenagers.

I went into the kitchen to start cooking dinner. As I usually did, I put on music to help me deal with the stresses of my emotions. The Everly Brothers were, and still are, one of my favorite groups. I always sing along with music I love. The song “Let It Be Me” came on the stereo. I started to sing along, when I felt my husband’s arms come around me. He turned me to face him and we started slow dancing in the kitchen. That was the first time we danced barefoot in the kitchen.

We’ve been married for 46 years, over the years we have danced barefoot in kitchens all over the world. Last week we danced in our kitchen here in Mississippi to the same song. It still makes me teary eyed to feel the deep love we still have for each other. The last dance I ever have, when we are so old a decrepit that we creak, will be dancing barefoot in the kitchen. And we will be just as in love then as we were the first time we danced barefoot in the kitchen back in 1972 in that old house on Rose Avenue in Mill Valley, California.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=everly+brothers+let+it+be+me

 

 

Do You Remember


I noticed, last time we were out to dinner, that there were a lot of couples and families around us who were sitting at the same table, but not in the same space. The adults were never looking at each other. They weren’t talking to each other. And they looked, well, alone and lonely. I have been married for 46 years to the same man. We always have things to say to each other. Sometimes they aren’t always nice things, because we do argue about stuff like all couples. But we rarely sit at the same table and ignore each other – unless we are arguing, and that never lasts past the first course. What has happened between these couples who are older? Drifting apart? Different interests or hobbies? Bored with each other? Have they forgotten why they fell in love in the first place?

I know, we all look different from our youth. Gained wight? Gained wrinkles? Slower to get around? Tired easier? Of course. But so what? Under the age, and changes, you are still the same people who, once upon a time, met, fell in love, and knew you were meant to be together.

Oh, I know, modern marriages are a mishmash of divorce, remarriage, loss and remarriage, and folks who never want to marry but are so lonely they want someone in their lives in some permanent way. I get that. But, for those of us who have stayed married, who are so much a part of each other’s lives that we understand each other without words, we are in danger of becoming strangers living in the same house.

So, let me ask you a few questions:

Do you remember the first kiss and how overwhelming it was?

Do you remember the first time you knew this person was the love of your life?

Do you remember the fear of the commitment, but how much you wanted your love to be your love forever?

Do you remember how bereft you felt when you had to leave his or her arms?

Do you remember that magic moment when the love of your love looked at you and smiled, and your knees went weak with happiness?

Do your remember where you were when you had your first fight and you knew you blew the whole relationship?

Do you remember saying the words, “I love you” and knowing you meant it with every thing in your heart and soul?

Do you remember the first love letter? Not a note, text, or email, but a real letter. On paper. Do you still have it in a treasure box somewhere?

Do you still feel that goofy feeling of joy when you see each other after being apart for a time?

Does your heart ache with emptiness when you have to be separated for long?

Do you remember the one habit drives you crazy with frustration, but you still put up with it because it is a part of who they are?

Do you remember the first time you felt like you were home when you were held in his or her arms?

Do you remember when you stopped being embarrassed to be seen less than perfect, like when you were sick or in a bad mood?

Do you remember when you knew this was forever, not just until you drifted apart?

Do you remember when you decided that you would fight for this relationship come hell or high water, because this was the only one you would ever want so much?

Do you remember saying yes to, or asking for marriage? (I know, marriage is so yesterday, but that commitment is still vital no matter what you call it.)

Can you still look at the love of your life and know that he or she is still the love of your life?

Do you let life, kids, family, work, hobbies, and technology get between you? Why?

If you are feeling distant, or as if there is no spark left, then do something about it.

Write a love letter.

Make sure to tell him or her, that you love them daily. And not just an off hand “love you” as you leave for work in the morning. Take the love of your life in your arms, share a kiss – not a peck, and say the words like you mean them.

Spend time doing something you both enjoy.

Take a long weekend – and don’t tell any of your kids where you are going.

Turn off your phone.

Make time together special – whatever that may entail. It doesn’t have to always be romantic either, just special.

Take a moment to let other people know how wonderful your love is and why.

It isn’t wrong to be madly in love with your spouse or whatever you call each other, even after years together. Let them know. Just say it. Often. When least expected.

Laugh together.

Love together.

Support each other and encourage each other.

Take time just to be together, doing nothing in particular.

And remember, one day, it will be just the two of you again. You will have to speak to each other about things other than the mundane. Talking about how much you love each other is a great topic.

One day one of you will be gone, you don’t want to have regrets because you didn’t take the time to say what you felt, thought, and how much you loved.

Taking my own advice, “I love you, Harold B. Combs. Always have, always will.”

Family Reunion


Last weekend, I took my mother to a family reunion down in Texas. I hadn’t been to an event like that as an adult. I knew three people in the entire room, one was my mother. I felt odd, awkward, out of place, and strange. As a mature female of over 60, it was like being back in junior high where everyone else had gone to school together forever and I was the new kid. Awkward.

So, I sucked up my shyness and talked about genealogy, family history, and said hello a lot. I also smiled a lot and I ate far too much good food. It is no wonder all of my family tends toward the round shape, the good cooking gene runs in the family line.

As a child, I grew up away from my parent’s home town. We lived all over the place with the military, and as an adult my husband and I both wanted to be on the move. So I don’t really understand knowing all about one’s cousins, aunts, uncles, and extended family. I know my dead relatives better than the living because I am a family history addict. I am a bit like the odd duck in the family.

They grew up together, or at least with knowledge of one another. And that was a great thing to see. My memories of my grandparents are strong, and real, but these cousins are from different places than my branch of the tree. Still, you could see the solidarity, love, and strength in knowing their family was there in any time of need.

My mother loved every minute, she had looked forward to the event for months and could hardly wait to get there and meet everyone. She kept telling me that she couldn’t belove we were blood relatives to so many people. Of all of her generation, in her family line, she is the only one left. Her parents had two daughters, and my aunt passed away long ago.

Another interesting thing was how the faces looked like faces I knew as a child. The same nose, eyes, mouth, laugh, hairline, walk, and even the way they stood reminded me of other long gone family. Funny how DNA directs how one looks and moves. Strong blood lines tend to breed true. This one certainly does.

I am thankful I went. It was good to see my cousins, two of the few, from my youth that I actually remember. I am thankful that family is so important to our extended family of cousins that they have this reunion every year. I am thankful that I was able to visit the graves of my great great grandfather and grandmother who started our family lines in Texas and Oklahoma.

Maybe next time, I won’t feel so disconnected and awkward. And, perhaps, I will know more than three people in the room.

Brain Drain


I found the Mr. standing in the middle of the kitchen staring into space. Like many of us, he forgot why he came into the room once he got there. This made me start thinking about how long I had been doing the same thing as I had a niggling worry deep inside about going senile. And I think I nailed down the problem that leads us to forgetting things.

Children.

Think about it. Before kids, we generally cruise along in life fighting the battled of becoming an adult. Sure, we forget to do things now and then, but the majority of the time we are sailing along just fine. Then it hits women first when they get pregnant. Baby brain slowly creeps in but we cope with it, after all baby will come along soon and it will all change. Our husbands, partners, whatever, get upset with our baby brain moments, but generally just laugh at us.

Then baby comes along. And so does a complete lack of sleep, organization, and ability to think. New parents are so tired that sleep is more important than showers, food, or even sex. That is when true forgetfulness strikes both parents hard. The slow unraveling begins. Even after the baby sleeps through the night, starts walking, potty trains, and talks, the brain begins to drop bit and pieces everywhere.

OK, kids get old enough to go to school, most folks have several by then, and are pretty oblivious to the brain drain taking place. Mom and dad start making notes and keeping calendars to stay on track, Kids have school, sports, play dates (as silly as that sounds), and there are a multitude of other activities from school plays to family dinners. And the brain just keeps dripping cells everywhere.

By now the parents are in their forties. Kids are driving themselves and creating a life of their own, soon they will be off to college or working (hopefully), and the house gets less hectic. The only calendar kept is one for doctor appointments and such. Until, one day, the house is empty and a couple is alone again. And that is when the final event hits, the memory wall.

We forget what we were saying mid conversation. We forget where we put our glasses Every. Single. Day. We forget our car keys, our wallets, and where we took off our shoes. We double check to see if we fed the dog and if we left water out for the cat. We have to go see if we locked the car door, and we always have to make sure where we put the credit card after using it. But mostly, we can’t go from one room to the next without forgetting what we were going to do when we got there.

Sometimes, we stare in the refrigerator thinking that’s why we are in the kitchen. Or, we go into a room four times before we get what we came for, because we get distracted by something else, and walk out of the room without the one thing we needed.

By the time we get to retirement age, we start reminding each other about things before going out the door. We do a check list, wallet, keys, glasses, hat, sunglasses, cell phone, and most importantly the list of things to get done or for shopping. Oh, and don’t forget each other while you are out.

So, yep, it is all because we have kids. Those that don’t have kids, have extended family, friends, and pets to help drain our brains as we age. Therefore, it doesn’t help not to have kids.

Next time you are standing in the middle of a room and forget why you are standing there, remember to blame it on the kids. And watch your own kids start down the same road with their kids and laugh. Then spoil your grandchildren and sent them home, just to get even.