“Hey, Charis,” I said to our Oldest Granddaughter the other day. “Guess what! Tomorrow is Grandpa and Grammy’s anniversary!”
“Huh!” She said, looking up momentarily from what she was doing.
“Yep!” I said, trying to draw her into the conversation. “Guess how many years it is.”
“Um,” she started uncertainly, screwing up her face. “Fifty-four?”
“No, not quite,” I said, laughing.
“Um, uh, SEVENTY?” Her voice had that high-pitched quality that children often use when they really have no idea and probably don’t much care.
“No, Charis! I’m not even that old.” I said, still chuckling. “Here. You figure it out. I was 19 when I got married and now I’m 63.”
So she wrestled with that for a while, and with Grammy’s help to confuse her with a foreign way of doing math, we finally came up with the answer. “You got it,” I said, “Grandpa and I have been married 44 years!”
“And tomorrow it will be 45!” she announced triumphantly. So that needed straightening out, too, but we finally got it all squared away and she went on to tell me how many years her daddy and mommy had been married, and I never did get the enthusiastic response I had sorta’ hoped for.
You might say that was a bit the story of the day. I came down in the morning to find Certain Man on the recliner with a really bad headache. I offered to get him some medicine but he had already taken it and was waiting for things to settle down. I was into my morning routine when I suddenly remembered and looked up from whatever I was doing to announce cheerfully, “Happy Anniversary, Darlin’!”
He was really feeling pretty bad, I think, because his response was somewhat noncommittal. He hoisted himself out of his chair and went out to do the morning chores, feed the baby calves and check the chickens. He came back in, sweated wet from the already oppressive heat and humidity and went to shower. I made breakfast for him and then he went off to work. I needed to take Nettie for her monthly blood work, then drop her off at center, get gas for the mini-van, drop some insurance information off at Nettie’s doctor, and go to the bank for Nettie. I made my round, stopping at Big Lots for a few things, at the nursing home with Cecilia’s clean clothes and ended up at Redner’s to pick up some celery and eggs for a potato salad that I wanted to send to Ohio with Eldest Daughter and Beloved Son in law. I got home around 11 to discover that the florist had delivered my beautiful arrangement of flowers from That Man that I Love Best. I had almost forgotten what day it was until I saw the bouquet on the dining room table. It was a bright spot in the middle of a day that had been so ordinary.
They were so cheery, so bright and exactly what I wanted! I love carnations, since these were what he would buy me when he first started buying flowers for me. I often think about that young man who didn’t really have any idea what he was doing when it came to buying flowers (not that I knew any better). I wonder what made him first venture into a flower shop, looking for something to buy that wouldn’t break his budget, and yet would be acceptable to his sense of design and beauty. He has consistently chosen so well, and I cannot remember a single time when what he purchased didn’t please me. (There were a few years when he would send roses in a long purple box, and that was always exciting, and it wasn’t that I didn’t like them, but I finally got the nerve up to tell him that I preferred carnations, that I liked it better if I didn’t have to arrange the flowers because I really didn’t have a clue as to how to do that, and besides, carnations were cheaper and they lasted longer!)
And so, the day passed. Middle Daughter was planning a trip in the evening to Shakespeare in the Park with some friends, and that meant that Daniel and I would be spending the evening at home. Which was fine with me. We were trying to get ready for a trip to Washington DC the next day to help Youngest Daughter move, and there was plenty to do to get ready for that. I made the potato salad, got some stuff around to send along to Ohio, worked on some of the laundry that Youngest Daughter had sent home in preparation for her move and watched the weather. When a severe storm watch was announced, and the friends that were planning to go to Shakespeare with Middle Daughter began to drop out one by one, I got to thinking that maybe Certain Man and I should go out for supper since Deborah was going to be home after all. But it sounded like a lot of effort.
Shakespeare in the Park got cancelled about the time that Certain Man came home from work. I mentioned that going out for supper was a possibility but that wasn’t met with any enthusiasm. It was POURING down rain, and Certain Man was exceedingly weary. His partner in the Plumbing Inspections Department, Lawson, has retired and the unit is running on short staff. Friday was a long, hard, hot day. Plumbers that try to cut corners and get away with things are quick to get angry at inspectors, and the traffic home had been an irascible mess. Besides, we had to clean up a futon in the shop that Youngest Daughter wanted, go fetch a trailer for hauling everything and then load the things that were going to Washington the next day. Well. Maybe we could stop for ice cream or something at Vanderwende Farm Creamery when we went out to pick up the trailer. Maybe. If we felt like it.
The evening progressed and one by one the things got done. We went out to pick up the trailer, and it was still raining. I looked over at this man that I love most and decided that we were not going to stop anywhere. I wasn’t at all hungry anyhow, and we would just celebrate later. We went right by Vanderwende’s without either of us saying a word about stopping. We were in the middle of a good discussion about something else anyhow, and there didn’t seem to be any good reason to get ice cream when neither of us really wanted to.
So we came on home, finished up what needed doing and called it a day. We had wonderful good wishes from friends, and even people advising us to enjoy the day and each other in some special way. I crashed into that bed of ours that night, too tired to move from my spot. Certain Man was soon snoring gently beside me. I thought about that day, 44 years ago when we pledged our lives to each other. He promised to love me. I promised to obey him. (Yes, I did!) I thought about how there are anniversaries that we have celebrated with great fanfare and excursions and weekends away and special words and meaningful conversation.
And I thought about this very ordinary day, when he went to work, and I did the things that I had to do. When he came home, so very tired, but still needing to do things for our children or someone else, and how we worked together at the things that needed doing, without resentment at each other or quiet peevishness for a special day being so ordinary. In a very real sense, the day was a picture of our marriage. There have been many days of marking high events, high emotions, good times, (as symbolized by those yellow carnations) but for the most part, it has been the two of us, a team, doing what needs to be done, enjoying the being together, doing for our family or our friends, being faithful, working through the hard times, forgiving each other and not allowing ourselves to be upset when life is ordinary. There has been lots of “spaces in our togetherness” since we don’t always enjoy the same things, but when it really matters, we’ve forged an agreeable compromise. We both like people, having guests, our adult children, our grandchildren, our church family, and so much more. We’ve had lots of time over these 44 years to figure each other out somewhat, and it’s nice to be comfortable together. We’ve been so blessed.
So when people ask me if we had a nice anniversary, I can say with a great deal of conviction, “We really did! Nothing special or earth shaking or unusual, but still satisfying and sweet.”
For these 44 years and so much more, my heart gives grateful praise.