When my parents had their sixtieth wedding anniversary in 1987, I thought they must be sad to be celebrating their last big occasion before certain death. Later I wrote A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, which ends dramatically with what was really stressing them. Happily, my husband and I have now reached that milestone. We were conspicuous co-eds 60 years ago when he gave me a ring made from a loose diamond smuggled out in a sponge from Hungary. We were so much
in love we paraded around from one end of the campus to the other with our arms around each other’s waist.
In those days behavior codes were strong and he was not the type to force himself upon a sheltered Protestant girl who was president of a girls’ residence nicknamed ‘The Bastion of Virginity’. We agreed we would keep sex to the area “from the collar up” for the nine months of our engagement. That did not prevent him from educating the novice on the basis of his year of field work in Rome while waiting for a visa to Canada. He was not allowed to work or go to school so he did what healthy, energetic, attractive, idle young people naturally do.
With our anniversary coming up on Sept. 10, we once again find ourselves conspicuous. At the sailing club’s lobster party we were accosted by a beautiful young blonde psychologist out on her first date with a French Canadian dynamo. She conducts life-success classes for companies and wanted to know our secret. She loved the way we sat together, ate together and treated each other tenderly. She wanted to see us walking, holding hands. She said we reminded her of her grandmother who had always had faith in her to succeed but she hadn’t done it the traditional marriage way; she was a single mother of a six-year-old girl. She wanted to come to our home and visit us so we invited her.
On a trip around America we dropped into a restaurant in Virginia where my husband lined up cafeteria-style and brought the food for both of us. I thanked him as always, with manners and respect. A lone woman at the opposite table moved over to join us. “Today’s men aren’t made that way”, she said, “they don’t treat women with courtesy”. She congratulated me on having such a nice man. “Who are you? Where do you come from? I never had a boyfriend like that. My life didn’t work out”. “We’re so sorry,” we said and hugged her. “We wish you all the very best.”
As a celebration, I invite you to take a look, or another look, at A Book of Kells which readers tell me ends poignantly and dramatically. Strains mount during such a long relationship. The couple looks back and compares what happened to what they had dreamed and vowed would happen 60 years ago. Just as falling in love with the right person can happen in a flash, so can forgiving and finding happiness if the couple have been true to themselves.
A diamond stone has carat, cut and color. But most of all it must have clarity to make the “inclusions” or inner, natural characteristics shine through the outer “blemishes”. Only then does it glitter and become fabulously valuable.
With divorce, free love and new lifestyles all around us, I’ve decided not just to grab our certificate of congratulations from the Queen of England and relax. I want to reveal secrets and add to the clarity of what really goes on inside this brilliant phenomenon of lasting marriage.
Snatches from my new novel about the adventures of a couple with coincidental resemblances to my husband and me will pop up in this blog as the long process begins and needs your encouragement.
Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!