Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hands of Time

Having been married for nearly a quarter-century, my husband and I have fallen into the same trap many long-term couples have; we are in a rut. He has his interests, I have mine. I don’t play golf and he isn’t drawn to browsing through book stores. He has television shows that I find boring; he can’t understand why I watch dramas. To balance out the activities that keep us apart, we make a conscious effort to find things to do together that we both enjoy. One of those is road trips.

On a recent trip up the California coast
We have not had a great deal of time to devote to these excursions, but have managed to get a few in over the last year. On one particular trip, with John driving and me occupying my hyperactive self in the passenger seat, I looked over and was drawn to my husband’s hands. His wedding ring glinted in the sunlight and seeing it I was taken back to our wedding day. 

With all the promise of our life together before us, we took a photograph of our hands sporting the symbols that committed us - one to the other.

On our wedding day, 1988

Neither one of us had any idea what the years ahead would be like; but in that moment we carried the belief that our lives would forever be entwined, although the odds of it were not necessarily on our side.

Our present-day hands, just like our lives, have aged some. Both, I am proud to say have stood the test of time.
Two decades later: the rings changed, but not the symbol behind them

We are complete opposites, John and I.

Me? I’m restless, forever looking beyond what is in front of me and dreaming of what could be. I like change and when I can’t have it in a big way, say a new career (I’ve had at least four) my need for change manifests itself in rearranging the things around me. I move furniture around my house on a regular basis, each time insisting that the “new” arrangement was how it should have been all along. John refuses to allow me access to a chainsaw; he fears what the trees, fences, or building outside would look like after I had my way with them. John, on the other hand thrives on consistency.

Routine could be John’s middle name. He likes things to stay the same, has even acknowledged that at times when something messes with the routine it messes with his whole day. John is comfortable with the familiar; it gives him peace of mind. I honestly don’t know how he has managed to live this long with a whirlwind such as me, but for some reason, it has worked.

That’s not to say we haven’t had our moments; what couple hasn’t that have been together for so many years? What’s the key? We’ve talked about it, among ourselves during intimate conversations, with our daughters as they have navigated through life and loves, with friends who marvel that we have withstood the test of time. The answers we have come up with are friendship, respect, and, well, frankly, love. John is not my best friend, not in the true sense. I keep things from him and he from me; things we can only share with a guy or girl friend. But, we are best of friends, nonetheless; he knows my heart and I, his.

We have an undying respect for one another. In all of our years together we have never, ever uttered a swear word at the other, nor have we called the other a disparaging name. This is the one thing most people we tell cannot believe. But, it’s true. We don’t allow others to speak poorly of the other; in the true sense we have one another’s back.

Love, the thing that brought us to that day of vow-making, has grown and changed over the years. When I think of life without John, I can’t fathom it; he is so much a part of me that the very thought of his absence is too difficult to contemplate. I may seek change in everything else I do, but in my life with this one man I just want it to continue. In a few months John’s mother and father will be celebrating their 60th anniversary. 

John's mom and dad, still laughing and loving
I hope that John and I can follow them on that same wonderful path. I will take another photograph of our hands on that momentous occasion.

This life with John has been the best road trip I’ve ever taken. I can’t wait to look in the rearview mirror once we’ve reached our destination.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Empty Nest, Full Heart

It's been eight months since I welcomed my two new grandchildren, Rain and Noble, into the family.

They join eight-year-old Aiden and my life could not be more blessed.            
Getting to this juncture has not always been easy, but love has made any obstacles, fears, and worries pale in comparison to the joy of watching my babies' babies grow.

Aiden is getting older, is no longer as willing to cuddle next to me, to think my words are unchallengeable; that's why it's so wonderful to have new babies who need to be held, kissed, snuggled with, and who smile at the very presence of you. 

Oh, how I missed my babies when they'd become all grown up, but this chance to love their offspring makes up for it tenfold. 

Each one of my daughters approaches motherhood in their own unique way.  Erin is by-the-book, follows doctors' orders without question, and worries about all the things first-time moms worry about.  Adrian, who has already done such an admirable job with her first son, a third grader who has just tested for the Gifted and Talented program in his school and is reading at a fifth-grade level (testament of her nurturing) is much more at ease in her role as mother to her second child. 

She has excellent help, too; Aiden adores his little brother and takes his role very seriously.  When I asked him recently if he wished he'd had a brother a little older to play with, he said that Noble was "perfect just the way he is."  Seems Noble feels the same and lights up every time his brother makes those funny faces at him.

The sisters, who were never as close as I would have liked, neither in childhood nor adulthood, have developed a beautiful bond due to their shared motherhood experiences.  They help one another out with the care of one another's children and all the things that need to be taken care of.  The babies, too, are developing a beautiful bond as they are just three weeks apart in age and have been together from the beginning. 

Just as their moms have different personalities and parenting styles, the children are expressing their own unique personalities, as well.  Rain, docile and sweet, loves food, can put herself to sleep without fuss, and makes few demands.  Noble is quite the opposite.  A screamer from the start, he lets his wants known loud and clear.  He chatters a lot and is very much a mamma's boy.


The two babies are very entertaining.  So far, there has been no issue over the possession of toys; they play very well together.  Just wait until they understand the concept of "mine!"

For the moment my life is quiet.  It's empty-nest here at my house as the holiday visits are over.  While I relish the extra time I have to myself, I miss the kids and the commotion terribly.  Looks like another trip to the "Full House" is in order soon.

In the meantime, my rocking chair sits in the corner looking as desolate as my heart feels.