Silver Moments

Today marks 25 years since I met Max.  This week, we are celebrating a milestone- our silver anniversary.  As most people do, we have been through a wide variety of experiences and emotions and relationship wrinkles since we met 25 years ago.  While I would not have imagined the life I have now with him at the time I met him, I knew there was something special and fated between us from the first time we met.  The past 25 years have been precious.  He is one of the greatest gifts and blessings of my life.

Twenty-five years are made up of many, many moments that weave together to create a shared life. There are so many moments that shine like silver in my heart that I cannot possibly relate all of them.  In honor of our 25th anniversary, however, I would like to share 25 “especially special” moments.  They are our silver moments.

  1. The night I met Max, I was doing homework assigned by my dating coach.  Yes, I was so determined to find a healthy relationship, I actually paid for private dating lessons.  My coach suggested that I attend what I lovingly call the “pudgy people’s dance.”  A local organization dedicated to chubby chicks and chub-chasing men offered regular dance parties to allow those of us with a few (okay, maybe more than a few) extra pounds to mix and mingle.  Now, I was not at the weight class that would interest reality television, but I certainly was (and still am) more to love.  For the first time in my life, I was extremely popular that night. When Max first asked me to dance, there was an immediate, organic attraction on every level.  I never experienced anything like it.  In retrospect, it was like some part of me knew that there was something wonderful and lasting between us.  I remember how he looked.  I remember what I wore.  I remember how his arms and chest felt when he danced with me. I remember how he made me feel.
  • When Max first came to my home, my dog, Luci, was extremely excited.  Truthfully, she was not the most discerning of creatures.  She pretty much loved everyone.  However, the way Max reacted to her showed me how special he is.  Every time he visited, he brought her treats.  When we sat snuggled together on the couch, Luci would often jump up and squeeze herself in between us.  Max was never annoyed.  He laughed. I think he found it charming.
  • About a month after we met, I asked Max to come over for Christmas Eve dinner.  He brought a boy teddy bear and a girl teddy bear.  He told me their names were MaxBear and TerriBear.  In the years that followed, Max bought me many beautiful gifts.  Many were much more expensive than MaxBear and TerriBear, but none are more valuable.  They moved with us to Florida and still snuggle up together every day.
  • Max took me to meet his family a week or so after our first Christmas together.  This was significant because his father was struggling through his last days of life.  He would lose his battle with cancer just a few days later. Max thanked me for supporting him during this time.  I thanked him for doing me the honor of including me in his family circle.  He told me that he remembered me saying at one point that it bothered me that my last boyfriend never introduced me to his family, even after several years of dating.  He did not want to hurt me in that way.
  • Max and I went dancing often in the first few years of our relationship.  He flew me around the dance floor with skill and passion.  Dancing was important to him and he created a partnership with me. People even applauded when we danced together.
  • Max and I would often snuggle together with the lights off, watching old movies on the second floor of his house.  It was always cool, if not cold, in his house. It felt intimate and cozy to share the space- filling it with our warm hearts.
  • It took Max a long time to decide to cohabitate.  He was sure that he would do something to undermine the relationship if we were together all the time.  Even once we did agree to move in together, he tested the waters to make sure that it was going to be okay.  About two weeks before he was supposed to move in, he got angry over something to do with the tv remote control and threw it across the room.  It seemed so transparently a contrived act to see how I would react, I almost laughed.  Since then, I believe he has only thrown one other thing across the room- his work cell phone. I was also ready to pitch the darn thing.
  • Max introduced me to luxury.  Neither of us has a lot of money.  Both of us have lived through hard financial times.  Neither of us are spendthrifts.  Max introduced me, however, to the idea of up-spending for the sake of getting something more lush or upscale than necessary.  He buys me nice handbags. He buys me blankets made of luxury fabrics.  We stay in large, comfortable, upscale lodgings when we travel. He bought me some Chanel #5.  All of these are occasional treats. They do not interfere with our financial stability or charitable giving.  I do not think I ever would have gone beyond Walmart handbags, cotton throws, value resort rooms, or Bath and Body Works scent except for him. 
  • From the day Max moved in, we were living in a different vibe.  It was instant family.
  1. Max indulged me by going to Disney World with me for the first time in 2003.  He was a real trouper all throughout our six-day forced march through the humidity across the World.  He made several more trips with me.  He understood the importance of being close to Disney when deciding where to move in retirement.  When asked what his favorite thing about Disney is, he says that he enjoys it, but that his very favorite thing is how happy it makes me. 
  1. The night my father had his sudden fatal heart attack, Max stayed on the phone with me throughout my 70-mile drive to go see him before he died.
  1.  Max wrote me a love poem once.
  1.  Max picks beautiful, sentimental greeting cards for all occasions and he remembers all our milestone dates.
  1.  When my Luci went to doggie heaven, Max took care of the process after she slipped away and, when it was all over, spooned next to me on the bed and held me while I cried out my grief.
  1.  Max paid storage fees for years while we were living together in California because he did not want me to feel like I had to get rid of anything I wanted to keep just to make room for him.  Several times, I suggested we would not need the storage or the amount of storage if I just tossed the things I had not touched for months or years.  Every time, Max demurred, insisted he wanted me to be comfortable.
  1.  Max was first in line to buy the debut copy of each book I published.
  1. For years, Max lugged boxes upon boxes of Christmas decorations from and to the storage building, up and down two flights of stairs, just because he knew I loved Christmas.
  1. Max constantly tells me I am perfect.  I know I am not perfect, but he makes me believe I am perfect for him.
  1. During our first trip to Hawaii together, Max strove to provide a romantic experience for me.  The first time I ever went to Hawaii, I went by myself.  I remember thinking it was the most beautiful place in the world, the most romantic place in the world, and the loneliest place in the world if one was without a mate.  Our real version of the romantic Hawaii experience was not the same as my fantasy, but it was still very romantic.  We laughed and relaxed and shed our adult personas.  My favorite bracelet is still the Hawaiian heirloom gold bracelet he bought me on that trip to commemorate our romance.
  • While I was journeying with my mother during the last, broken year of her life, Max made a concerted effort every day, all the time, to say and do the right things to help and support me. He did not find the right thing every time.  In fact, there were times when there was no right thing.  Most of the time, he did find the right note.  It was the fact that he was trying so hard and so consistently that made the moments silver for me.
  •  We converse in movie quotes (“You people don’t deserve a good king like me”), inside jokes (how old are you? I’m free), pet names (Little Bear), and little rituals (playing elf on the shelf, bouncing on beds) as part of our everyday life together.    These are things that make sense to only the two of us and they are things that enrich our couplehood. 
  •  On one of the rare occasions when Max and I disagreed over a big issue, I was uncomfortable and sad that we were on different pages.  When I expressed to him that I felt so awkward and awful about the state of affairs that it was hard for me to even talk about it, he reassured me, saying that disagreement did not discount love and the fact that we disagreed did not mean that he did not love me.
  •  Max regularly cuddles me, rubs my back, and scratches my neck until I purr like a kitten. 
  •  Max often looks at me with a warmth and awe that seems to say, “I cannot believe I am lucky enough to see you every day.”
  •  Max and I read devotionals and pray together daily.  We worship together in online services and he has started attending my church with me once a month.

There are many, many more moments like these.  Even these “moments” really represent more than moments; they constitute whole galaxies of instances that weave together to support our love.  These are just some of our silver moments.  In fact, they are not just silver moments.  They are silver moments trimmed with gold, wrapped up with a platinum ribbon.

Happy Anniversary, my love…

From the luckiest bear in the world!

An Overabundance Of Love

I used to think there was no such thing as too much love.  Now, I’m not so sure.  Maybe what the world needs now is love, sweet love, but I think it can do without any more lovebugs.

Before we moved to Florida, many people questioned me about whether or not it would be inordinately buggy in my new home.   I believe we were all thinking about mosquitoes.  I know I always did picture Florida as having more than its share of mosquitoes.  In truth, I haven’t really noticed much of a mosquito problem.  Yes, I have had a few encounters over the past four years that have left me itchy and swollen and pretty grouchy.  In general, though, mosquitoes have not been an issue.  Maybe it is because I am rarely out after dark, but I have no major mosquito complaints. Truth be told, my issues with mosquitoes are not peculiar to Florida.  I’ve come away on the losing side of mosquito interactions in California, as well.  What can I say?  To mosquitoes, I am delectable…coast to coast!

I have to learn to think bigger when someone mentions “bugs.”  Clearly, mosquitoes are not the only insects that populate Florida.  It is lovebug season and I am a lovebug natural disaster. My car is speckled with dead lovebug guts. I could feel bad about all the lovebug tragedy I leave in my wake, but I really don’t.  I just think the world has more than enough lovebugs and we don’t need any more. 

I don’t think the lovebugs got that particular memo, though.  In fact, lovebugs seem to have only two purposes in life- to mate and to crash into cars… often simultaneously.  For a few weeks each year, the lovebugs swarm all over like locusts in the Bible.  They spin through the air in a frenzy of copulation.   The sky is gray with them.  They fly, two by two, in passionate embraces, towards their doom.  That doom is usually the windshield or grillwork of an oncoming car.  You can see them mating through your windshield and they are obviously pretty into each other because they are completely oblivious to the fact that their love is going to be very short-lived. 

Lovebugs don’t bite or sting or hurt people in any way.  I’m not afraid of them.  They just make me feel icky.  They are so prevalent in the air around me, I am constantly fighting off the disturbing conviction that I may have just swallowed one (or more than one because they are not exactly loners).  Also, their guts contain some horrible chemical compound that eats into paint, chrome, and even windshield glass.  You are supposed to get your car washed immediately when you see the acid rain that runs through the lovebugs’ veins splattered on your vehicle.  I’m sure the carwash places thrive more than the actual lovebugs during lovebug season.  Unfortunately, unless you stop driving completely for two weeks and leave your car in a hermetically sealed garage, you might as well never leave the carwash during the height of the bugginess.

You do hear a lot of complaining about the lovebugs.  They are inconvenient and a bit aggravating.  But isn’t that true of everything, even love itself, sometimes?

Kidding and minor annoyance aside, the lovebugs are not a big deal.  First of all, they are a self-limiting problem.  In a couple of weeks, they will be gone.  If I swallow them, well, I guess a little extra protein isn’t a huge problem.  If their self-destructive behavior in the midst of coitus causes your children to ask awkward questions, I guess it can be a teaching moment. 

Yes, even if the lovebug goo causes some problems with my car’s paint, I guess I can live with that.  What I can’t live with is a world without love.  Maybe having lovebugs take over the planet for a couple of weeks each year is worth it if it reminds us that love is all around us!

What is your experience of lovebugs?  Do you think they serve some metaphorical purpose or are they just plain annoying?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com 

Have a loving day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Heart-y

As Valentine’s Day approaches, this old woman’s fancy is lightly turning to thoughts of love.  To me, a life must have love to be healthy and hardy.  Without love, I think our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being suffers.  Our spirits become pale, weak, puny little things that fail to thrive.  With love, our lives are robust, multi-faceted, and always growing. 

This will be the sixtieth Heart Day I have spent on the planet.  They haven’t all been happy.  I haven’t always had a special valentine of my own.  I haven’t experienced any of those “rom com” Valentine’s Days filled with flowers, surprises, and perfect proposals.

Over all, though, I’ve been pretty lucky in the love department.

To begin with, I have God.  As St. John says, “God IS love.”  How can any Valentine’s Day exist… or any day at all exist, that doesn’t include a celebration of the abundant love of my Lord?  I am wondrously and robustly blessed.  My life can be nothing less than a love letter from and to God. 

I have always had the most supportive and loving family and friends.  They’ve always laughed with me, held me up when I’ve been drowning in sorrow, made me feel special, and pointed me true north when my internal compass wobbled in wild wonkiness.  Even in times when I was without a romantic relationship and felt desperately unloved and unwanted, I have always been loved and wanted.  I was just too much of a goose to realize it.  Max and I have been binge watching Downton Abbey again recently.  In one episode, the cook, Mrs. Patmore sends an anonymous Valentine’s Day card to her assistant, Daisy.  Mrs. Patmore is sure that one of the footmen is going to send a card to the other kitchen maid and she wants Daisy to have something to open as well.  After much ado, Mrs. Patmore finally confesses to Daisy that she sent the valentine and apologizes for instigating an unintended drama.  Daisy thanks Mrs. Patmore, responding that she might not have a young man, but she has a friend and “that is something.”  It certainly is, Daisy.  In fact, it is a great deal more than “something.”

Actually, Valentine’s Day has not been a very big deal in my holiday hierarchy.  I send cards, but that’s about it.  Even when I was in romantic relationships, my beaux have always approached the most romantic day of the year as little more than a Hallmark holiday.  The first guy I dated after my divorce asked me why I didn’t get him anything for Valentine’s Day, although I had, in fact, sent a card.  The irony, apparently quite lost on him, was that he had done nothing at all for me for Valentine’s Day.  Another fellow, who I dated for several years, did get me a valentine gift one year.  It was a rain gage.  Yes, a rain gage.  I think I can claim the distinction of having received the least romantic gift of all time.  I know everyone has a different language of love, but I think it is safe to assume that lovers don’t speak “rain gage” anywhere. 

Max and I have always acknowledged Valentine’s Day, but in a pretty low-key way. We exchange cards. I always get him the extremely sentimental gift of a renewal of his AAA club membership.  I know it isn’t a rain gage, but we can’t all be crazy romantic fools. Honestly, he would be very disappointed if I did not renew his membership.  His gift to me is usually rolled into whatever “big” gift has been burning a hole in his present budget.  For instance, last Christmas, he got me a tanzanite ring that represented Christmas, birthday, anniversary, and Valentine’s birthday for three years.

We don’t drag out the trumpets and play a fanfare.  It always feels like we “should” do something special, but we usually don’t.  Neither one of us really like to go out for dinner or anywhere traditionally romantic because everything is so crowded and expensive. It is a bit galling to realize you are paying more for an experience that you could have much more pleasantly on any other day of the year just to be able to say you are doing it on Valentine’s Day.  It is kind of the New Year’s Eve of love.  Hardened partiers call New Year’s Eve the amateur night for drinkers.  Maybe Valentine’s Day is the amateur night for people who are trying desperately to be good at being in love. 

There certainly are times when I fantasize about receiving a grand romantic gesture, especially at Valentine’s Day.  For the most part, though, I am happy to take my love as I find it, on any day of the year.  Our Valentine’s Days are not exploding with passion like a fireworks show.  I would rather know that I am loved and cherished each and every day than point to one specific moment in time when the valentine fireworks ignited.  Our Valentine’s Days are sweeter and less flashy, like savoring hot chocolate. 

Max and I understand each other.  We nurture each other. We enjoy each other.  We have a lot of the same interests and preferences. We introduce each other to different fancies that become shared eccentricities.  For instance, how many 68-year-old men trail after their girlfriends visiting Tinker Bell in Pixie Hollow?  And delight in it? 

We may not always admire the other person’s less-than-pleasant personality quirks, but we admire the totality of the other person.  The quirks are just part of the package.  Max loves me enough to do just about anything for me, if I tell him it is important to me. He doesn’t try to convince me why it isn’t important, he just trusts that it is.  In exchange, I love him enough not to play the “important” card unless it really is.  I don’t ask him to do things that I know he won’t want to do unless it truly is important to me.   

Yes, I am well-loved.  And, because I am, my life is heathy and heart-y!

Do you have a special valentine wish you would like to send?  Please feel free to reach out to your loved one with a heart-y message by leaving a comment.  If you would like to email me, you can do so at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a love-ly day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

A Beam Of Love

In the wee hours of the morning on September 2, my mother found her way out of this life.  After over a year of struggling on her path towards the next life, she fell asleep.  When she awoke, I am sure she found herself in God’s dwelling place instead of in the nursing home.

All my mother’s life, she lived joyously and richly. She squeezed every drop of enjoyment and meaning out of every day.  She was almost always happy.  It wasn’t that her life was always wonderful or exciting or fun.  It wasn’t even that she had a particularly exotic or interesting life.  Most people would say that her life was pretty conventional. She was a daughter and a sister and an aunt and a wife and a career woman and a mother and a friend.   What made her so special was not so much what her life was, but how she lived it.

My mother had a gift for satisfaction.  She collected fulfillment and meaning in her every action, even the most mundane experiences. When we were out driving somewhere and got off course, she’d often say, “I never get lost; I just have adventures.”  I think that pretty much summed up how she approached life, way beyond just how she approached a road trip. Wherever she was going in life and whatever she did, she was determined to find happiness and pleasure in the process.

She was the kind of person who attracted other people. She was an interesting and interested person.  She was curious about all kinds of things and embraced opportunities to learn.  She relished good, meaty conversations.  She was an excellent listener. She knew how to make people feel safe.  She heard what you said and what you didn’t say.  She heard what was underneath your words.  I don’t believe there was ever anyone who knew her who did not love her.  She constantly sowed love and harvested relationships as she rollicked through her day-to-day existence.  She valued those relationships and nurtured them.  Even in the nursing home in her very compromised state, she radiated a kindness and joy that attracted people.

On the other hand, she followed her own heart in living her own life.  She did what she believed was right and followed the paths that brought her happiness. She used to say that she liked herself and she liked her own company.  She had a busy mind that was always tooling away happily, creating thought and considering possibilities.  I used to say she was her own occupational therapist because she could figure out alternate ways to do almost everything when her mobility started to desert her.   She owned a home computer before most people did and, even in her eighties, she embraced new technology that added interest to her life.

She had courage of conviction.  She walked her life with God as her guide.  She held firm in her convictions and relied on her relationship with God to support her in her journey. She believed in prayer.  She believed in miracles.

She loved God.  She loved life. She loved other people.  She loved herself.  In short, she was a joyful beam of love, illuminating and warming everyone with whom she came in contact.

Now this beam of love has faded into the next life, leaving this life darker and colder and considerably less sparkling.  The thought of going on with my journey without her physically by my side seems unconscionable.  Considering all the memories we shared, all the things she taught me, and all the gifts she gave me, it is inaccurate to say I will ever be traveling through this life without her.  All that she was is embedded in me and will be with me forever. I want to honor all she was and all that made her beam by carrying on her legacy of loving, joyful living.

It seems that now I will have to grow towards the joy on my own, without her walking in tandem with me. I don’t know yet how I am going to do that.  It helps to know that she has found the greatest Joy of all.

Thanks to all of you for your support as I have walked this difficult path with my mother.  Thanks, in particular, to my friends Louisa and Odete, who encouraged me to write this tribute to my mom.  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a joyful day!

Terri 🙂

Special programming announcement:  I’ll be off the grid next week, but will be back with new content on October 4.