Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh
Many of our friends (The Lady & me) are like us; married for many years, having never experienced divorce. Married in our late teens and early twenties, we grew up as our children were growing up. We saw the mess of the Vietnam war, the fallout of the hippie era, the rise and fall and the continuing rise and fall of the economy with each passing decade. Sometimes life was very, very good. At other times, very, very bad. At age twenty three, I had a full beard and long locks. I then invented the mullet. Hairlines and hemlines; the times; they are always a changing.
My wife is not a stranger to me. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses. We often think the same thing at the same time. We are aware of each others dark side or shadow self. We also know the transcendent component of one another. We know that we can both be assholes. It is comforting.
In the 2002 movie "About Schmidt" Jack Nicholson plays the title character who finds himself a stranger in a strange land after he retires and begins to spend time at home and alone with his wife. One morning he awakes and looks over at his wife sleeping next to him. He begins to wonder about who this stranger is lying next to him. He doesn't really know her. They spent many years engaged in the role of husband and wife, of parents, of homemaker and that of an insurance man.
The movie launches Schmidt into a new era as his wife dies unexpectedly and he seeks to find some shred of himself. So sad. It is both an engaging and thought provoking movie. I enjoyed "About Schmidt" although it did little at the box office.
Funny. Some of the best movies that I've seen had poor showings at the box office.
My friend Jon and his wife have been married for, I believe, thirty four years. I remember Jon's grandfather crying at the wedding and saying, "Oh, they're so young."
The wedding reception was held at the local Elks club, the same club that we have held Sunday car shows at for many years. Jon and Marie arrive in their late seventies Corvette and me and the Lady in our 1973 Karmann Ghia. After Marie's funeral, I understand that we will retire to the place of her wedding reception (The Elks, again!) for her funeral reception.
How bizarre. How bizarre.
Marie was one of those individuals that made others feel warmly accepted no matter what their status or situation in life. Empathetic, she hid under a bushel the depth of her wisdom. She knew more than she let on. I remember the times when I needed to get away, feeling the stress of four kids, little money and arguments at home. On several occasions, when her only son was under ten and her household chores were calling her, I would arrive looking downcast and she would invite me in. I watched some pretty good movies with her son (now 30) while she went about her business, occasionally stopping to check on us. When she finished, we would talk and visit and I went home refreshed.
I first met her about two weeks after Jon did. They were quickly (it seemed) an item. He was spending a good deal of time with her and I think, in hindsight, some of us guys felt that she was intruding on our turf. It was always, us guys. Now, it was changing because of a girl. I am so glad it did.
I spoke with her on Sunday night, a few days before her surgery. She was already making plans to give back to the dialysis center; volunteering and mentoring others waiting on the kidney donor list. That was her.
On Monday, after the funeral is two days past and everyone returns to their daily life, Jon will be home alone in a house full of memories. It's not like she was planning on an extended stay. Its more like she walked out the door and just vanished. Every corner of every room will reflect her having been there. No one teaches you how to pick up the pieces. How do you go on.
You just do.
I am reminded of Thoreau who said,
"Live each season as it passes.
Breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit,
and resign yourself to the influences of each."
O wish that we could.
We're all such a mess.