How can we lose an anniversary?
Monday, February 03, 2014 2:10 AM
Almost every year, we skip our anniversary. We don't forget about it, but the day just gets wiped right off the calendar. It's because of the international dateline.
We leave here one day, usually the day before our celebratory date, and arrive at our destination the day after our anniversary. What happens to that day? Maybe it just sits out there waiting for us to grab it again on the way back, because according to the clock, we arrive back in the U.S. before we leave Asia.
This year we are celebrating 18 years, and like everyone else, I don't know where those years have gone. It proves the old adage that time flies when you are having fun. And judging from the cards I have received from my spouse over about the 23 or so years we have been hanging around together, we have indeed been having fun.
One time I told a friend that it was possible to describe the development of our relationship through those cards. Early on, birthday and holiday cards from him were of the garden variety; they could have been from anyone. After maybe two years, the cards were for a good friend, then for a special friend. Then the theme changed to "for the one I love," and now-for 18 years-the cards start out "To my wife."
Sometimes the cards are funny, such as the one that said "From the guy who seldom shows it but who knows his wife's a whiz...Who doesn't often say she's sweet but always thinks she is...Who may not always mention that he just can't live without her...but hopes she knows that all the time he's simply wild about her." That one was illustrated with a delightful pair of pink mice.
Many of those cards are straightforward, such as the one that said, "You are the best part of the best years of my life." Another one said, "Loving you is beautifully simple...and simply beautiful."
My all-time favorite is the one that said, "Once upon a time, on a day that looked like any other day, someone like no one else came along and made life into something that would never be the same. That's you. That's my life. That's why your birthday means so much to me." OK, that was a birthday one not an anniversary card, but it could be.
I was looking through the small photo album from our very simple and beautiful marriage ceremony which was in our own house in Lincoln, Neb., during a cold spell much like we've been having around here lately. I found a poem that had been read that day, about which I had forgotten. It was an adaptation from Charlotte Johnstone's "Secrets of a Loving Marriage," titled "She Went Blind and I Went Deaf: Growing Wise Together."
Here is part of it: "He laughed when she dented the car door, and didn't complain about everything in the laundry turning pink. He gently told her when she talked too much, and she gently nudged him when he got too impatient. He learned to make compliments in addition to 'fine' and 'nice'; she learned to do things in moderation.
"They got kicked up to the front row when their parents died, and learned how to accept their own aging. They planted trees, and friendships with young people, knowing that they might not be around to see them fully grown, but believing in their growth nonetheless.
"When she went blind, he read aloud; she remembered his face. And when he went deaf, she listened for him and he remembered her voice."
We're a lot closer to those kind of realities than we were 18 years ago, and we've learned a lot about being there both together and for each other.
Not long ago in the big city newspaper, the writer known as C. J. interviewed former television hosts Steve Edelman and Sharon Anderson (Star Tribune, Jan. 5, 2014). They have what C.J. called a "TV marriage that began on an ABC station and has lasted" since 1979. These days that is a long time. Spouse Roger asked me if I had read the article, and I said I had. He said that he liked what they said about "each of us thinks we got the better deal," adding that in our marriage, he got the better deal. I responded, "But that's what I think! I know I got the better deal."
I guess our marriage is going to be around for a while, though if we live to make it to 39 years, like Edelman and Anderson, we'll be in our 90s. And we'll probably still be saying how fast the time has gone since we got married.
After all three of us siblings had left home, my mother told me that from the time we were old enough, we had always reminded our father when important dates were approaching, such as birthdays, Mother's Day and anniversaries. That way, he was always prepared. She said that without us around, there was no one to remind him. So, she said, he was back to forgetting, just like before we were born or old enough to do the job. She added, "And you know what? It doesn't matter at all."
That's sort of the way we approach our anniversary now. At some point during the long flight, we will remind each other that the day is out there somewhere.
We might even have remembered to bring along a card to share and even have an onboard toast to another year of a great marriage. But if we don't remember, that's OK too, because we both still feel that we got the best deal.