An Anniversary Remembrance

My husband and I celebrated our fifty-nineth anniversary a couple of days ago. Wow, it sounds like a lifetime. Well, it almost is. We met in high school and that was that. Going through old journals and blogs (something I do at the end/beginning of a year) I found this piece I wrote ten years ago. I think it is worth revisiting.

August 2012. Steady Eddie and I recently took in a movie called Hope Springs.  At times it was like watching someone suffer with an aching tooth remembering that your toothaches too.  Ouch!  It was also a reminder of why we are married.  Not that there is any good reason as reason goes, just that there are emotional connections and shared memories that cannot be compared or duplicated by any other couple.  They make our marriage, ours.  They make the humdrum every day and annoying things bearable.  They make us laugh together, sigh together, sometimes cry together and smile at each other when no one else can understand.  Those private moments and memories are the superglue that holds our ship together in stormy seas.

I don’t think this movie appeals to a wide audience but considering the number of baby boomers, it has a fairly deep pool from which to pull.  A good friend of our daughter, Calliope, set her criteria for movie-going to a high standard.  “No old people sex”, Lisa once said.  At the time she defined “old people sex” as any hanky panky on screen by anyone over 30.  This movie would definitely not meet her criteria.  Even though overtly it is about the sex follies of the senior set, it is ultimately about the strong link forged through fire and ice by people over years of married life.

So many times – sometimes daily – I get annoyed with Steady Eddie, like a gnat at a picnic that dives at your eyes, ears, and nose.  All I want to do is pinch his head off.  For instance, when he buys the largest container of mayonnaise at Costco that does not fit in our refrigerator without rearranging ALL the shelves and it is so big we don’t have a spoon or spreader long enough to reach the bottom of the container.  Is that not annoying?  Especially when he defends his choice and says he’ll do it again if left on his own at Costco.  To top it off whenever he goes to the frig to make a sandwich he says, “Where did YOU put the mayonnaise?”  and it is the largest thing in the front on the second shelf.  He says, “It is below my eye level so I couldn’t see it”.  Now how can you NOT want to pinch his head off? Eddie, on the other hand, has no reason to be annoyed with me.   Well, maybe I forget to take the safety brake off when I drive his truck.  But that is it.

I do admit Eddie has many endearing qualities.  For one he cooks eggs benedict for me every Saturday morning. Then there are the times when he brings home flowers just to make me smile, or he touches me gently as we pass in the hall, or remembers an obscure special occasion, or lets me know he is thinking about me when I am most vulnerable, that makes all that other stuff go away.  I could make long lists of those good moments, but they wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else but me.

Anyway, most of the time marriage is great and the rest of the time it teaches patience, tolerance, and restraint – all of which are good skills to have so you don’t go to prison for capital murder and leave the children as orphans.

January 2023. More than ten years have passed since I wrote this, and it still holds up. I laugh at the names I assigned people on the premise they can’t sue me if they are not recognized. We’ve shared so many adventures and weathered many more storms in the meantime and our ship is still upright, maybe even stronger as we age together. Thank you, Steady Eddie, you know who you are. I love you.

Elvis

There is only one. My husband and I went to see the movie, Elvis, with Austin Butler as Elvis and Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker. Let me just say, Austin may be a good actor, but he is no Elvis. The 1979 movie with Kurt Russell as The King was a more convincing portrait. This new movie, however, was heavy on the portrayal of Parker and his relationship with Elvis. Tom Hanks disappeared into the role of the Colonel. He was amazing. How sweet Tom H. could embody the sleaze that was Parker makes it clear he is an incredible actor. This is not meant to be a movie critique. Many of my friends saw the show and have differing opinions. I think it is doing well at the box office but I would not recommend it. The music, of course, carries the show.

I was twelve when Elvis entered my life. He had been around for a while by then, but it was his music played on KJR in Seattle that got my attention. I think the fervent plea Don’t Be Cruel was my introduction. With the urgency only a teen can understand, I talked my mom into taking me to the record store. In those days there were stores dedicated to vinyl records, where you could spend hours listening to your favorite songs at individual turntables with headphones. It was a Saturday pastime for me and my friends. I bought a 45 of Don’t Be Cruel with Hound Dog on the B side.  Don’t Be Cruel was played until there were no more grooves, Hound Dog not so much. With my babysitting money, I bought each album as they came out from 1957 to 1963. Elvis was the guest of honor at all sleepovers with my friends – swooning, giggling, weeping, whispered secrets, popcorn, hot dogs, layered jello dessert, and coke, the order of the night. The walls in my bedroom were papered floor to ceiling and wall to wall around windows and closets with Elvis pictures taken from fan magazines. That is impressive in my memory because my mother was a stickler for clean and orderly. Nothing in her house was less than perfect – except my room. I teased her that she lived in a Doris Day movie – sheets and underwear ironed; closets, cupboards, and drawers in color coordinated tidy stacks and rows. The fact that she accommodated my obsession with Elvis adorning every nook and cranny of my room for six years is, as I look back, a testament to love or maybe just giving up to a headstrong teen. When I married and left home, the room was quickly reclaimed.

In 1963, as a newly engaged woman, I believed it was time to put those teenage things away and become the adult my new status decreed, even though I was still 18. I had my own real-life love (even better looking than Elvis in my eyes) so dream lovers were no longer significant. I gave all my LP’s and 45’s to my sixteen-year-old neighbor who was as ga-ga about Elvis as I had been.

Now fifty-eight years later I am an Elvis fan-atic once again after being reintroduced to his music.  I listen to his channel on SiriusXM Radio, on Amazon Music, and Alexa. I rediscovered songs I forgot. His voice is unmistakable and moves me whether I’m listening to heartfelt gospel, crooned love ballads, or feverish rock and roll tunes. They send me back in time, but in another way, I enjoy a new perspective after living and loving for so many years. Thank you, Elvis. Your legacy is very much appreciated.

This is one of the stories in my life, a short version. It is important to recognize all the stories that make up a life and honor them. Sharing tales, fiction, and non-fiction, is how humans connect. We discover that we have more in common and our differences become less important. As we show in our book, Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets, a writers’ group can help a writer develop those stories for themselves and their families. Take some time today to write a memory.

On Reflection – My Birthday Quilt

A patchwork of life

I have good health, a comfortable life, great memories, and positive people around me. I would be an absolute fool to not be grateful and feel blessed for all I have been given. Reviewing my journals, in an attempt to organize them, and talking with friends who called with warm birthday wishes set me to thinking of my life – as a quilt. Every person I’ve known through time is a patch on my quilt; small patches for brief acquaintances, larger ones for enduring relationships, and others somewhere in between.

The idea of a quilt came to me as I thought of my friend, Mary, who is a premier quilter and teacher. She helped me begin a quilt many years ago that today resides in a plastic box at the top of my closet, still in pieces. I don’t have the patience to sew but I loved the idea of making a quilt. Mary offered to finish it for me, but I’d rather do it myself. Maybe. Someday. I will begin again. In the meantime, my imaginary quilt is easy to piece together using the threads of memory.

Each patch has its own texture to match the person it represents from cozy chenille to fluid silk or satin, smooth cotton to linen, sturdy denim to rough scratchy burlap. Each patch has a shape – round, square, animal, flower, star, or leaf. Each square or shape has a color – bright or dull, dark or light, some printed with polka-dots, flowers, stripes or plaids, even animal prints (you know who you are).

A bright yellow silk patch is for the woman I can call on at any hour of the day or night. I can tell her the most outrageous thoughts; she understands me and never takes offense. How blessed am I to have her in my life? One animal print square is for my amazing friend who has the grace of a jaguar, the energy of a box of kittens, and the bright smile of a Cheshire cat. She lights my day. Another friend gets a white canvas triangular piece because it reminds me of him and sailing. My imagination has fabricated a giant quilted panorama for the story of my life.

A blue denim horse shape is for an old boyfriend whose memory still makes me smile. A pink chenille star is for someone I always think of as a soft snuggly part of my life. A boldly patterned cotton chintz in cool green, shaped as a flower represents a woman who is sturdy, bright, and resilient. The center of my quilt is a deep blue wool piece shaped into a compass rose that always points due north. It is for the man who has shared my life for fifty-eight plus years.

There are patches for my parents (Mama’s is delicate purple polka dots, Daddy’s a deep cinnamon velvet) and grandparents, my brother, and cousins. There are patches for faith, love, and service. There is no thing in my life as important as the people in it and that includes many fur people throughout the years. Each of those furry friends has a shape or square that tells their part in my story too.

A scratchy grey burlap patch is for the boss who attempted to dismiss my contributions to the company we worked for. I told him I would not accept his summary of my annual work review. He balked so I told him I would take my case to his boss with my evidence of accomplishments. Grudgingly he changed the report to my satisfaction.

I know I have been the prickly burlap patch in a few quilts. I am content with that. Every one of us is the hero in our own story and every hero needs an adversary against whom to sharpen their character skills. I hope I’ve been the snuggly chenille or bright silk or smooth cotton for most. No matter – my quilt is bright and beautiful and makes me smile. Thank God!