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….”

“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


Shopping With The Husband

Never take your husband shopping at the grocery store. Especially if he is hungry. One never knows what they will find when they get to the check out counter. It is even worse if we go to get groceries at Wal-Mart. Not only will odd types of food find their way into the trolley, but other things like tools, duct tape, smelly candles (that I can’t stand, but he likes), and the occasional packet of underpants will end up in the trolley too.

However, when we are in the grocery store together, I have a list, and send him off on explorations to find certain items. “OK,” he says, practically dancing, “what do I need to go find?” If he were a hunting dog, he would be salivating with excitement. “We need a loaf of French Bread. Not the kind in the regular bread aisle, but the Rustic French Bread from the bakery. Oh, and while there, check and see if they have any fresh hummus – the garlic kind – at the deli.”

“Rustic French Bread, bakery and hummus – garlic – deli next to bakery,” he repeats. Then heads off in the correct direction. I know that he will be gone a while, because he will get distracted before he ever gets to the bakery area, and once there, he will have forgotten what I sent him for in the first place. He will remember, bread, hummus – “Oh Look, CHEESE! Butterkasse, yummm.”  And when he gets back he will have the wrong bread, the wrong hummus, but he will have his favorite cheese.

Meanwhile, I will have finished with at least half my list, working methodically from one side of the store to the other. I take what he brought and send him off again. “Dish soap for the DISHWASHER, fabric softener, and I need some of those small paper plates.” “Dishwasher soap, Fabric softener, paper plates – small.” Off he goes.

I know, you see, that he will have to go past the automobile aisle, the office and craft aisle, and the miscellaneous household doodads aisle. He will get totally distracted the second he finds the light bulbs and he will spend ten minutes looking at stuff before he gets to the aisle that has all the cleaning products. Meanwhile, I keep on moving and filling my trolley. Eventually, he turns up, with Dawn soap, dryer sheets, and a huge container of paper plates, regular size – because they were cheaper that way. Along with light bulbs for our collection of about 50 packets already, super glue, some crayons for the grandkids, and a stapler – because it looks so cool!

The next things on the list will stump him for even longer. I am sending him after cookies, hot dogs, and a whole chicken for baking. Diabolical. Before he even gets out of sight, he is distracted by the magazine rack. He slows down and lets his body keep walking forward while his head turns as far as it can while he checks out the new computer mags. I know, of course, that it will take him forever to decide on hot dogs. He will end up with Hebrew National, but he won’t be able to stop himself from doing all sorts of computations to justify buying the most expensive hot dogs in the store. And he will end up with a few Lunchables for the grandkids. The cookie aisle will slow him down even more, because I know he likes Oreos more than any other store bought cookie, but there are so many more less expensive, and he will do the hem haw dance trying to talk himself into getting the Oreos. Then comes the chicken. A whole chicken. That means he has to decided how big, how much to spend, which brand, and by the time I am nearly through the store, he will come back with what I wanted. Sort of, anyway.

Then I send him off again for Ice Cream, get some for himself, and then find some difficult to find flavor for me. He will get Blue Bell chocolate chip for himself if they have it, and then end up with strawberry sundae for me from some off brand. (I actually feed this to the grandkids. Ice cream is ice cream to them.) While he is off doing that little chore, I put back the Dawn soap and get the right stuff for the dishwasher, I put back the dryer sheets and get the right fabric softener, and replace the paper plates with what I want. I keep his light bulbs, super glue, crayons, and stapler. I figure we can always us them some day. I end up getting the right French Bread, hummus, and replace on of his favorite cheese packets with one of my favorites. He never notices the different products when we check out, he is too distracted by the magazine rack.

Am I a horrid wife? Nah, just one who knows I have to keep him busy to keep him from putting odd things in my trolley when I am not looking. He is helping by staying out of my hair. It works. Really. Try it next time you have to take the husband with you. Just don’t forget about him and leave him in the magazine aisle, the store management really doesn’t like that at all!

60 years.

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.

The Waltz – A true story from my past.

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.

In Response to this post:

Open marriage generally refers to both partners having multiple sexual partners while married to each other. That, I find, belittles the entire purpose of marriage. Why bother, after all, single people have loads of relationships (I use that term lightly) while searching about for the one person they can fall in love with for life.

Having been married since the age of 16, 41 years ago, I tend to see the word ‘open’ in a different light. Open means that you don’t smother each other, that you are honest with each other, that you support each other in good and bad times, and that you encorage one another to grow, learn, and become the person they are meant to be.

For instance, I didn’t go to university until I was 36 years old. But, due to my husband’s constant support, I managed to earn three degrees in five years, and was on a scholarship in Nottingham, England when our son died and I quit school to take care of his daughter. Without the encouragement, support, and outright cheerleading my husband gave me, there were times I would have simply given up. Instead, I graduated third in my class, Magna cum Laude, Mortar Board Society, and Alpha Chi Honors Society. That is an open marriage. Because, trust me, we didn’t spend all that much time together during those five years.

We have vastly different interests on many levels. An open marriage means that I don’t try to force him to change those interests because I want him to do things I like to do. Instead, I encourage him to do those things, and occasionally go along with him, and he does the same for me. We don’t have to live in each other’s pockets 24/7 to enjoy our lives together.

Most importantly, an open marriage means that we work as a team. No one is the boss, and we both work hard to keep things good between us. We talk it through, sometimes after a yelling match and a few slammed doors, but we talk it through. We also agree to disagree and some topics we avoid because we both know it will lead to endless debates and neither of us will budge in our opinion. But, we respectfully agree that as individuals, we should and can have differences of opinion, and still love each other.

The whole sex thing, well, trust me, sex isn’t the be all, end all of a good marriage. Important, yes, vital at some points in life, but the most important thing is love. Love, when he gives you a foot rub after a long day. Love, when you cook his comfort food (even if you hate it) when he is stressed out. Love, taking care of him when he gets sick, even if he is a bigger baby than your two year old. Love, when he sits through yet another three hanky girl movie even though it bores him to death. All those little things, that’s what makes a marriage work.

Marriage, An Occupational Hazard


The occupational hazards of living with someone for years are many. Among them is the ability to know that they will wear the same shirt and trousers together at least sixty percent of the time, always listen to a certain kind of music, tell a certain kind of joke, read a particular author with great enjoyment, and another for edification.  They will almost always eat the same foods, drive the same way, enjoy the same people, and want to do the same things for relaxation.  They become,  predictable, comfortable, and taken for granted.  Like an old sweater, shoes, or a favourite pair of pajamas. The occupational hazard of predictability and taking someone for granted is one of the most dangerous hazards a couple can fall into.  All of the advice givers for marriage will tell you that.  They will list a long list of reasons why and then tell you how to avoid doing it.  All that is fine  and good, but it doesn’t always apply to every couple.
For instance, I like it that you remember that I like Dr. Pepper in a glass without ice and that I tend to want to sleep on the right hand side of the bed.  You know I hate it when the cupboard doors are left open and I always need the closet doors shut at night.  I like it that you know I will love certain movies, and hate others, that I am crazy about musicals and I don’t care for mystery novels.  You know that I am equally divided between the colours red and yellow, but that anything in hunter green will please me.  You remember that I am a collector of small boxes and anything with a fox on it.  I like it that you know what art I find wonderful, and that I would want to see a certain exhibit without question when it come around.  I like it that you know I want Onion Rings with my burger if possible, not fries, and that I am particular about what goes on my burger.
You know what music I like, most of the time, and that we can dance, listen, and sing along to the same favourite songs thrills me.  I love the old sweat shirts you wear and the jeans you just can’t part with, along with your Greek fisherman’s hat.  I like it that you tell me about your computer knowledge even thought you know I don’t understand half of what you are trying to tell me.  It makes me happy when you see something on the internet, or in a book, or magazine, or newspaper that you know will interest me and take the time to make sure I see it.  I am always pleased when you remember my interests in literature and try to understand as I prose on and on about things that you have absolutely no interest in, yet you go out of your way to understand.
I like the way I never know if your are going to start dancing or singing at any given moment, and yet, you are sensitive to my need to do the same thing.  I like the way we love to go to the same places on holiday, yet never get bored because we both like to discover new and interesting things.  We even go see things that would bore the other, and take turns doing it, so we both get to see what we want and still give a gift of understanding to the other. I know you will always find our way around in  a strange city, and you know that if I drive, we rarely get lost.  I love the way you read so intently, and you tolerate the fact that my mind wanders and sometimes I don’t hear you.
There are any multitude of mundane things you do for me.  I know you will always pick up empty glasses and do the dishes if I don’t get to them first.  Not because you are making a comment on my housekeeping, but because you don’t mind helping out.  I like the way you help make the beds, and help me move the living room furniture around for the third time when you thought it was fine the way it was in the first place.  I love the way you will go with me to the grocery even though you hate to, and then end up buying all kinds of things I would never have thought to get.  I know that if we go into a computer, hardware, electronics, or bookstore, you will spend a minimum of thirty minutes just looking around and not buy a thing, except what you went in to buy.
I know all these things about you and you know all these things about me, but does that mean we have fallen into the hazard of taking one another for granted?  Are we too predictable? Maybe, sometimes.
There are the times, however, when we surprise one another with something new about ourselves.  Try something new as a couple, like dancing.  Discover a new talent, thought process, idea, ability, desire to learn something different.  We are often amazed at how alike we are and how very different.  We have been together a very long time, and I still feel that there is so much I will never know about you.  Not because you hide it, but because you haven’t discovered it yourself yet.  I feel that there is so much more to me than you know as well, and in time we will make these discoveries together.
You make me feel alive, passionate, funny, and intelligent.  I know you are the most honest of men, you have integrity, and intelligence beyond my comprehension, and that you will do anything you must to protect your family from hurt, want, or need.  You are a dedicated husband, father, friend, son, and brother.  You love those who love you with an intensity that you don’t comprehend.  And you are loved in the same manner.   Everyone looks up to you, admires you, and tries to emulate you.  I know that in your career there are few who have the abilities you possess and that you can be or do anything you wish.  I know that you are loyal, determined, and strong willed and that you are a natural leader.  I know that your colleagues are amazed at your comprehension and knowledge of the work at hand and in the future.
You are, in short, funny, loving, passionate, intelligent, gentle, romantic, determined, honest, caring, devoted, strong willed, and the man that I have loved for fourty-one years.  Do we have the occupational hazard of predictability?  Maybe, sometimes.  However, I am blessed to have you in my life and that you know me so well.  I can only hope you feel the same way.