My husband and I were in Venice, Italy. He had a business conference and I went along. We had walked to St. Mark’s Square after a late dinner. We were standing in the crowd listening to music when a tall man, wearing an old fashioned cap, walked up to me and handed me a red rose. He asked if I spoke English. I said, yes. He bowed then said, “I heard your laughter. When I turned to see who was laughing, I did a true double take. You reminded me of someone I deeply loved that I recently lost. Your laughter is just like hers, filled with happiness and love. I give you the rose in remembrance of her, and to remind you to always love your man like you do now.” Before I could say a word, he bowed again and disappeared into the crowd. Tears filled my eyes, he sounded so sad, so lonely. I wanted to run after him and promise him I would always love my husband.
My husband was standing behind me while the man spoke to me. When he left, my husband, who had never shown an ounce of jealousy in all the years we had been married, nearly growled, “Who the hell was that? Why is he giving you a rose? I explained what happened. He was still glowering and grumbling about how guys shouldn’t give romantic roses to another guy’s wife on the way back to the hotel. I was girl enough to be secretly thrilled that he was jealous.
Something changed between my husband and I after that bitter sweet moment between the stranger and I. The fading romance between us was reignited, and a quick business trip to Venice became a second honeymoon. Today, years later, just the mention of Venice, makes us look at each other with that special smile. Every couple should have a Venice moment in their lives. A moment out of time where they can rekindle the romance and passion in their marriage.
To this day, I wonder about the stranger and hope he found a new love, because a man like that, who loved that deeply, deserves a woman who can love just as strong. Thank you stranger, for bringing back the love and joy between my man and I. I will always remember. I promise. God bless you.
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….”
“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
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
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
Everything that you do
It makes me want more of you
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.
Baby Knows How to Play The Game.
I recently observed the following while buying shoes.
A young woman 25ish and her boyfriend/significant other/husband were next to me as I was trying on a pair of shoes. He was standing with a shoe box in his hand, having obviously found what he wanted rather quickly. She was standing in front of a mirror with a fancy high heel boot on one foot and an even fancier high heel shoe on the other. The conversation went something like this.
She: Honey, which one do you like best?
He: obviously bored out of his mind and a bit frustrated – Baby I don’t care, just pick one.
S: Pout face, baby voice – But honey, you are buying them, so you get to pick them. I like them both.
H: How much to they cost?
S: a bit put out – They cost about the same, the shoes are a few dollars more.
Silence – I could see the man logic swirling. Okay! For two dollars LESS you get all that leather and boots will last a long time. You know how it goes.
H: Well, then get the boots. He was thinking this was a done deal.
S: But honey, I don’t know. I mean the shoes fit better . . .
She fell silent posing with one foot then the other in front of her. Letting the man stew a bit.
H: Look Baby, if you like the shoes better . . .
S: breaking in – Oh but honey, I don’t know that I do. They are both so precious.
BEWARE the use of the word precious used when a woman is shopping… always back up a few steps.
H: Baby, both look great on you. I don’t care just pick one and we can get out of here.
S: Shooting him a glare, Well, Never mind then, if you are in such a hurry, I won’t get either one.
H: finally catching on. The light bulb was tangible. Look, Baby, just buy them both. Then you don’t have to decide and we can go have something to eat and relax.
S: Squealed with excitement, followed by a kissy face hug. Oh honey I love you so much!
H: sighing. Love you too Baby. Love you too.
I took a peek at the price tags when they left. On Sale! Boots 125.00; heels 240.00. GASP!! Wow! I guess Baby knows how to play the game. And Honey has learned how to let her.
1. It is a good excuse to watch Christmas movies all day long.
2. You can sing Christmas songs at the top of your lungs and the kid thinks it is GREAT!
3. Tape takes on a whole new dimension when left in the hands of a little kid.
4. Baking cookies can be a daily activity, and so can eating them, cookies are a healthy snack if Nana makes them.
5. It is cool to be excited by Christmas lights, and we can say inane things to a the child, like “Oh Look! A Reindeer!” without other adults looking at us like we are on cog shy of a gear.
6. We can go shopping with the child, and no one bats an eye when we spend half an hour in the toy department playing with the toys. Gotta know if it is age appropriate after all.
7. We can say, in public, “If you aren’t going to behave, I am going to call Santa RIGHT NOW and have him put you on the naughty list.”
8. We can decorate the house and yard as garishly as we want, because children love all that sparkle and glitter, giving us the excuse to be over the top all we want.
9. We get to eat. A lot. Because children need to eat, and we need to test the food to make sure it is safe and healthy for them. Doesn’t matter if it is all the goodies we can get our hands on, someone has to be the taste tester.
10. We can read “The Night Before Christmas” and “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and the story of the birth of the Christ Child every single night, or day, at home or in the car, and no one thinks it is weird.
11. We can go see the newest movies for kids, and not feel like everyone thinks we are some sort of weirdo sitting in a theater full of kids.
12. We get to do fun stuff, like make Christmas ornaments from glue, paper, felt, paint, and the occasional crying fit.
13. We can make a mess every single day, and it is just fine to leave it until the child goes home. Unless, of course, it is spilled sugar – that has to be cleared up so it doesn’t feel like sand is all over the floor. Besides, a two year old might just decide to lick it off the floor (true story) for fun.
14. Wrapping paper can be more fun than the gift we are trying to wrap. Especially when combined with excuse number three.
15. We can play with all the toys that the kid got for Christmas, BEFORE the kid gets to. Someone has to put them together (some assembly required, my …. or how to bring out the Grinch in the old man on Christmas Eve).
16. Going to Walmart with cookie dough and flour down the front of your sweat shirt is OK. After all, the two year old has it in his/her hair, down the front, and in his/her shoes too.
17. Helping the child to dress the dog up to be a reindeer isn’t all that crazy and idea. But, I wouldn’t advise trying to do the same to a cat. Really. Not. Smart.
18. There is nothing wrong with having the child’s stuffed tiger in the manger for the baby Jesus. It works. And it saves on the requisite fight over the dolly that takes place between the angel and Mary after the play is over.
19. It is perfectly fine to sing different words to songs like Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is Coming to Town – as long as you keep them clean. Kids love that sort of silliness – and as long as there is a kid around, no one thinks you are two cogs short of a gear.
20. Stay up late night takes on a whole new meaning with an excited two year old who is waiting for Santa. But once the child is asleep, Papa Santa gets to eat the cookies and milk, and Nana Santa gets to eat the carrots and celery left out for the man in red and his reindeer, leaving behind enough crumbs to prove someone ate them. Then the “some assembly required” commences, leaving two very grumpy elves to find their way to bed way past their bedtime.
Why is it, as soon as I put the hard top back on my car, the sun comes out?
Why is it, that having the top down makes me want to play my music really loud and drive really fast?
Why is it, that every time a young person sees me driving a sports car, they seemed shocked?
Why is it, when an old person sees me driving a sports car, they all look confused?
Why is it, when a person gets past 50, everyone expects them to slow down and be stodgy?
Why is it, that when a person gets past 50, every single working part of the body decides to retool and redefine their working order?
Why is it, that some women freak out and spend thousands on plastic surgery and products to look younger, when time will catch up eventually and they will look like freaks AND look old?
Why is it, that everyone is scared to death to be round? Round is a good shape. Comfy, and easy to maintain.
Why is it, women under 60 freak out about being a grandmother?
Why is it, that women under 60 come up with stupid names for their grandchildren to call them so they won’t be known as a grandmother? I mean, really, MoMo?
Why is it, getting old is a sinful thing instead of something we have earned?
Why is it, that the young never appreciate what we know and the wisdom we have to share until it is too late to make a difference in their lives?
Why is it, if a couple is out dancing and having fun, and they aren’t young, people think it is either sweet, cute, or disgusting?
Why is it, people stare if I hold my husband’s hand in public? It isn’t as if we are doing anything gross, like snogging.
Why is it, all little babies and toddlers know that I am a Nana? Hormones?
Why is it physically impossible to stop myself from cooing over little babies, snarling at kids between 8 and obnoxious, and loathing kids between oh, teenage and forever if they are impolite, gross, or disrespectful?
Why is it, no one offers to help mom’s who are struggling with kids in public instead of complaining and making rude remarks?
Why is it, the older I get, the more I love the old guy I married so many years ago?
I was sitting in the doctor’s office this morning waiting , as usual, and filling out paperwork, when an elderly couple came in. She was a tiny, sprite of a woman, who moved with quick, birdlike starts and stops as she urged her husband across the floor to the sign in desk. He was a tall, heavy set man, with a manual laborer’s hands, and pure white hair that contrasted beautifully with his dark mahogany skin.
She was talking as fast as she could, and just kept on talking as the receptionist asked the man questions. He was, I understood, the patient. She was, however, his designated speaker. She answered every question, told him where to sit, told the receptionist that she didn’t want to wait long, and to hurry up the nurse and doctor so they could go have lunch. She fussed and fiddled until the elderly man reached up and took her elbow. And just like that, she stopped talking and sat down next to him.
While he filled out paperwork, she started telling him what to write down, he just kept on doing what he was doing, as if he didn’t hear a word she said. Soon she was carrying on a conversation with the woman next to her, and they set about solving the problems of the world. Well, she did, the other woman’s end of the conversation was pretty much, “mmhum” and “I hear ya on that one Sister.”
When the man got up to return his paperwork, he reached over and patted the old woman’s shoulder. She stopped spouting words, and sat still in her chair. When he got back and settled, she started talking again, and he reached over and patted her knee. He noticed the other woman and I exchanging a “can you believe that” look, he grinned at me and winked. Leaning toward me, he said, “It’s the signal we came up with years ago when she was talking too much or too loud. She can’t hear a thing, deaf as a post, but she surely does like to talk anyway. She reads lips real well, so you’d never know she can’t hear a word you say.”
I asked him how long they had been married. “Almost 60 years, now. And she is still the most beautiful woman I ever seen.” Then he turned and patted her arm, as she was talking a mile a minute to the woman next to her. He pointed at the door where the nurse had just called his name. The woman got up and started fussing and hurrying him along as if he were a toddler. He winked at me again. “Don’t tell her I said that though, cause I will never hear the end of it.”
When I left the doctor’s office, they were getting in their car. She was fussing and fretting as usual. I wondered if she was a backseat driver, or if she just prattled on until he reached over a patted her to remind her to let other’s get a word in edgewise.
There was a funeral on Saturday. It was attended by dignitaries, police officers from across the country, a motorcade of cars miles long. In one of the black limousines sat two young children with their father. Their mother was in the hearse in front of them. She had been shot and killed in the line of duty trying to stop a madman from killing other police officers. As with all tragic deaths, hers was senseless and inexplicable. She was one of the golden ones who changed the lives of those who knew and loved her. It was a sad day and the community grieved for the family so brutally torn apart.
Sunday was Mother’s Day. I couldn’t get the thought of those young children off my mind as I sat with my family and celebrated my years of motherhood. Those children will, forever, have to take flowers to their mother’s grave to honor her on Mother’s Day. No early morning breakfast in bed, sticky kisses, home-made cards, or presents hand-made with too much glue and glitter will be handed to their Mom. There will be no flowers from the garden, whispered secrets, or silly jokes to share with her. From now on, Mommy will become more and more of a memory and less real by the day. The grief will follow them for a long time, and then be pushed into the back of their minds as the move on into adulthood and life.
But, deep inside, that little girl will long for her mommy to help her grow into a woman and that little boy will long for her to help him understand how to be a good man. And every year, when it is Mother’s Day, they will remember the long line of cars, the speeches, the music, and the sadness on the day they lay their Mom to rest. In the blink of an eye, life changed for them, though they don’t yet know life will never be the same. They will have their Daddy, true, and he will love them with all his heart. But a Mother’s love, a Mother’s care is irreplaceable in a child’s heart and mind. They knew her very heart beat from the day of conception, and now it beats no longer. The rhythm of life is shattered beyond repair, and they will have to find a new rhythm with a heart that skips a beat where their Mother’s used to be.
I pray that she can be an eternal influence on her children. I will remember, even when I am very old, the quiet respect shown by all the bystanders as the funeral cortège slowly rolled by, and I will always remember the long black limousine where two young children sat as they followed their mother to her final resting place the day before Mother’s Day in 2006.
It was a typical winters evening in Nottingham. The streets were glistening with rain, the air was cold and damp, and the walk up the hill to catch the bus seemed extraordinarily long since I had stayed late doing my daily shopping in the City Centre.
As I trudged slowly along, my ears caught the sound of someone playing old tunes on a piano. I glanced up and saw, through a large window, an elderly gentleman playing on an old upright piano in what seemed to be a recreation room in a pensioner’s home for the elderly. The walls were industrial gray green, the floors cracked brown linoleum, and the furniture the dismal Formica and plastic found in many such places.
As I stood listening to the piano player, he began to play a waltz. Suddenly, out of the shadowed corner of the room, a couple began the long sweeping steps of an old-fashioned ball-room waltz. The man was stooped with age, and the tiny, white haired woman seemed fragile in his arms. As the danced, they gazed into one another’s eyes with winsome smiles. They moved in perfect harmony, born, no doubt, of many years of dancing together.
The cold, wet evening seemed to disappear as I gazed at the dancing couple and in my mind’s eye, they were no longer elderly, but, instead, I saw a young, tall pilot in his RAF uniform dancing with a beautiful, dark haired girl with smiling eyes. A couple, obviously, in the first steps of love and passion waltzing in a crowded ballroom lit by crystal chandeliers and candle light. As he held her close in his arms, they began the steps that would lead them into a life together. One filled with love, pain, worry, and joy. As the waltz ended, he softly kissed her temple and swore he loved her.
The strains of the old piano faded and I was abruptly brought back to that rainy winter night, and the elderly couple stood in the middle of the floor as he softly kissed her temple. Hand in hand they slowly turned and walked back into the shadows of the room. The street was unexpectedly quiet without the music and the wind rushed around the corners of the buildings bringing freezing rain, but I felt warm in the glow of the light spilling from the window of the pensioner’s home and the small slice of life I had just witnessed in a waltz between a man and a woman who would love each other for eternity.