On September 9, 1972, at the Norwood Presbyterian Church, in Norwood, Ohio, a 20 year-old girl from Norwood married a 21 year-old boy from Cleveland.
That was 44 years ago, today.
Where the years have gone, it is hard to fathom. It is only through looking at some photos that I can trace the journey.
We met the first week of college at Ohio University. A girl in my dorm, who was a sophomore, thought it would be good to get a bunch of guys and girls together to play touch football, so we could mix and mingle.
There was a boy with dark brown eyes, a mustached and a bowl haircut that caught my eye. My hair was pixie short.
Jump ahead to Homecoming 1970. I had a long hair “fall” on, and a cool outfit my sister made. “Three Dog Night” played at the convo, which was where basketball games were held. Dorms circled the outside of the convo. That is where the party was after the concert.
Nick was there. With a date. The date and I ended up in the bathroom and somehow, someway, we decided to swap dates.
Next thing I knew, I was with Nick, dancing and drinking and I got a bit buzzed and took my hair off and hung it on the bunk bed. That is officially, where the “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” policy was first heard.
Those were loose goose days. Nixon was president. I had a tee-shirt with the face of Spiro-T Agnew on it.
We rode the back hills of Athens County on a motorcycle, something I never told my parents.
We went to classes and then hopped on the motorcycle and had picnics at the myriad of state parks that surrounded Athens.
After my sophomore year, Nick’s junior year, we married, drove to Florida in an un-air-conditioned car, with a 100 pound shedding, labrador retriever in the car, to be delivered to his brother, whose house we were going to stay with.
We had no money.
I was very excited when, at the first visitor’s stop in Florida, they gave away free orange juice.
Along the way to our 44th anniversary, 4 babies made their way into our lives and cars.
Of course, there were arguments and stink-eyes, but more laughs and love.
Let’s see … we lived in a trailer in Athens, that had been abandoned and we cleaned and I made the orange couch for. Then two apartments in Cincinnati, a house in Norwood, one in Mason, another in Landen, an apartment in Charlotte, and now, our house in Clover, South Carolina.
There have been times of struggle, lots of struggle, robbing Peter to pay Paul, disagreements on this and that, mostly about raising kids. There were hard years, both of us working, trying to raise kids and get them here, there and everywhere, trying to teach them right and wrong and love them as much as we could.
There has been sickness and health and passings of loved ones and plenty of good times.
And cancer. Eye issues. Parkinson’s. You know, bleeps on the good life radar.
But we deal.
We were and are in it for the long haul. That, there was never a question about.
We are at our “coupled” best, when riding the backroads or on a little trip, having sandwiches at the back of the car or stopping in a little diner and listening to people we don’t know.
If there is a message about our longevity as a couple, it is that we allow the other to be who they are. Quirks, annoyances, are part of the ride. You find me someone who is perfect and I will someone not worth living with.
We are feeling the passing of time, the inevitability that one of us will probably leave the other, alone.
Nick doesn’t like to talk about it.
Of course, I do.
I have to have a sense of, oh, I don’t know what it is. A sense that even death won’t part us. Weird, huh?
I have given him a list of women he is not allowed to marry. Which is every woman I know.
The truth is this, I can’t picture life without Nick. And I have tried. Me, in my preventative worry, can bring myself to tears, just thinking of it.
Almost everything I have done, I couldn’t wait to share with Nick. And when I have traveled far away, I could do that because I have had Nick at home, waiting for me.
There is a song I love, “It’s the Going Home Together.”
“It’s the coming home together when your work is through.
Someone asks you how you do and how’d it go today.
It’s the knowing someone someone’s there when you climb the stair
Who always knows the things you you’re going to say.”
For 44 years, it has been knowing that someone has my back. Yes, don’t mess with me because you will have to deal with Nick. It has been watching Nick be a wonderful father and all around good person and someone who gives me freedom and ballast.
It’s been me, having a built-in audience for my wackiness and awful singing. And someone I can be a totally inappropriate, unpolitical correct, smart-ass with. And he, with me.
If I can claim nothing else in this life, I can claim that I have been well-loved, and I have loved, well, too.
And for that, I am forever grateful.