A Love That Built Slowly

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“I sit by the bed, hold Hugh’s hand, try to help him eat when meals are brought in. That is all I can do. Try to affirm with quiet love, a love that has built slowly over forty years…The growth of love is not a straight line but a series of hills and valleys.” – Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle

In Chuck’s last weeks we tried so many things to get him to eat. Our dear daughter-in-law, the dietician, gave helpful advice, sent protein powders and foods to try. Our sweet daughters made spreadsheets of all he ate and all the medications, times, temperatures, blood pressure readings, sugar levels. He tried with such perseverance but could hardly get down a few bites at a time.

My love for Chuck grew over forty-one years of marriage. It matured into a quiet love. The hills and valleys of our life together strengthened our love. A love that lives on in me.

Conjoined

Montana, August, 2015

“A love that depends solely on romance, on the combustion of two attracting chemistries, tends to fizzle out…A long-term marriage has to move beyond chemistry to compatibility, to friendship, to companionship. It is certainly not that passion disappears, but that is conjoined with other ways of love.” – Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle.

Chuck and I were compatible, though we had some different interests. I learned to enjoy baseball, but would never achieve the knowledge or full enjoyment he had in the sport. But, I could sit in front of the TV with him and watch a game, though often with my Chromebook in my lap.

The “other ways of love” came with putting each other ahead of ourselves. It didn’t just happen. It takes work to keep a marriage going. It’s a give and take, a making time for each other. It’s being okay with a little time apart. It’s talking and it’s sitting in quiet.

It’s a sweet camaraderie.

One Year Ago

Savannah, Georgia – early 2000s

One year ago Chuck posted this on facebook:

As some of you are aware, I put in for retirement effective June 1 and we placed our home on the market. The house went under contract immediately and we close on 5/19/20.

Unfortunately a few weeks ago I was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. We have consulted with UAB oncologists and decided to return to Jax, FL as planned and I have an appointment at Mayo Clinic this Thursday.
I wish all of you the very best in all life as to offer. Angie and I covet your prayers for strength, wisdom and that the Lord be glorified in our circumstances.

According to the Scripture all 'our days are numbered' so whether mine are few or many "I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for my sins..."

Please forgive me if I ever offended you in anyway, it is never intentional but still there is no excuse.

I pray his blessings upon each of you.

Just a little over a month after this Chuck was gone.

I just finished reading Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle. I didn’t realize when I started it that it was not only a memoir of her marriage but a very detailed telling of her husband’s death. They were married forty years and their relationship was so very much like Chuck’s and mine, though our lives and careers couldn’t have been more different.

She tells of their first date: “But we had talked for ten hours without noticing the time passing.” This is very much what happened with us – maybe not ten hours in one setting, but we talked and talked on each date. I miss those talks.

April in my Heart

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Helena, AL

 

April. The month of poetry. The month we used to celebrate our mothers’ birthdays. The month we moved to Birmingham six years ago.

I’ve been writing poems everyday this month. In the midst of corona-craziness, it’s one of the things that calms me. Not to give them equal value, but God’s Word, poetry, sunshine, and fresh air get me through these uncertain days. I’ve been using three different sites for prompts each day: Writer’s Digest PAD, Poetry Super Highway, and NaPoWriMo.

The following poem was inspired today by NaPoWriMo.

 

I Love Us

 

Sometimes it’s hard to say it

I try to convey it

I try to show it

Though I know you know it

 

I love us

The very thought of us

We are two peas in a pod

Though we are flawed

I am awed

At how we are still in this together

 

I love us

We are more than love like the movies

We are groovy

Stuck like glue

Each day new

Who knew?

All those years ago

We saw each other across the dance floor

And you asked for

My number

 

You weren’t so great at disco

We didn’t want to go to Frisco

But oh those Redwoods trees

The Pacific ocean breeze

We make each other laugh

In all those photographs

And memories

 

I love us

We made some precious babies

Grand-babies

No maybe

About it 

 

I love us

We’re an A-plus

Top grade 

Like a sweet dessert

A crisp dress shirt

A little bit introvert

A little bit extrovert

 

I love us

We’re a Pulitzer Prize

Flying blue skies

Over Montana’s mountains

And Savannah’s fountains

Our love

Fits like a glove

Just a couple of

lovebirds

 

I love us

Our records and roses

Touching noses

A glass of fine wine

Hearts intertwined

 

I love us

So romantic

Hearts gigantic

Peanut butter and jelly

Lots of belly

Laughs

 

I love us

I’ll always love us

For-e-ver

 

41 years

wedding

November 25, 1954

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December 16, 1978

Today is our 41st anniversary.  I can’t help but think of my parents who had 41 years of marriage. Less than two months later Dad was gone. I didn’t realize then just how young he was, just 63. Mom was younger than I am now when he died, just 59.

Mom and Dad started dating when she was 14, he was 18. They married on November 25th after Mom had graduated from high school that spring. Less than two years later my brother was born. I was born on the evening of their fourth anniversary. Eventually my younger brother came along.

Mom and Dad did not have much growing up. Neither one went to college, but Dad became a very successful businessman. He worked hard to provide for his family and Mom worked hard at home and stayed involved in the various activities of her children.

My parents weren’t very demonstrative, maybe because they didn’t have a lot of hugs growing up. But I knew they loved me, and in their later years they learned to express it physically.

I am thankful for the example of my parents. I am thankful for the 41 years I’ve had with my husband. I’m thankful for the children we have been given and the grandchildren.

And said husband surprised me this morning with tickets to see our favorite band.

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Say Love

Avetts in October #5: Swept Away – Two

us 2004

July 17, 2004

“There is no beginning to love,” Roger said. “It just creeps over you.” – from Quite a Year For Plums by Bailey White

With your heart my soul is bound

And as we dance I know

that heaven will be found

Well you send my life a whirling

Darling when you’re twirling

             On the floor             

  Swept Away

I am enchanted by the idea of love creeping over a person. I remember when I went off to college, I planned to be a career woman and not even think of marriage until I was at least 25. The following summer I met a boy. When we went out we talked and talked and pretty soon I realized I was turning all the others down (not that there were many, but still…) By the time I was 25 I’d been married for five years and had two children. And 40 years later, we’re not exactly twirling on the floor but we are still talking. And we are both huge fans of The Avett Brothers. Can’t wait for the 25th!

A Lasting Marriage

lasting

A Lasting Marriage

 

Today’s PAD prompt is Last______. I recently saw a “Spine” poem and remembered what fun they are to compose. The technique is to just choose books from your shelf and put the spines together to form a poem. Like this…

A Lasting Marriage

Once upon a time
Silver wedding
Everyone but thee and me
The thread that runs so true
Joy in the morning
Love and laughter
A circle of quiet
Cuttin’ up
A fine balance
We are still married
Smiles to go

Below I’ve listed all the authors in order.

Debbie Macomber
Maeve Binchy
Ogden Nash
Jesse Stuart
Betty Smith
Marjorie Holmes
Madeleine L’Engle
Craig Marberry
Rohinton Mistry
Garrison Keillor
Jerry Spinelli

 

 

Throwback Thursday – 35 years

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Not the best picture, but it’s me, 35 years ago, Farrah Fawcett hair and everything

 

Last month Chuck and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. Since it falls just nine days before Christmas, we did what we’ve often done – hung out and did a little shopping. For those who want to have big anniversary celebrations, I don’t recommend getting married in December. To compound that, both our birthdays are at the end of November.

So, I was thinking about changes that have come over these past 35 years. 30 pounds is one change that I don’t want to think about. Back in the baby days, my weight would go up and down with each birth, but I always managed to get it back to my pre-baby weight, at least for a while. Now, I seem stuck with this excess poundage. To use a few clichés: Talk is cheap; I need to face the music.

We’ve been through numerous changes of residence, from four rooms total to four bedrooms, but only within two states. Now, it’s time to move again, not by our choice. We’ve been waiting nearly a year to find out exactly when his move will take place. All we know is that it will be sometime this year. And that it will be to Birmingham. Alabama. Unless God has other plans for us.

The number of people in our home has gone up and down. From the two of us in 1978 to the six of us in 1989. Three of the four kids have come back for short periods of time, plus two other family members were under our roof as well, one for a few months, one for a year. We’ve had various dogs and cats and now we just have Loretta.

We’ve experienced the birth of children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. And the death of family members and friends. Graduation celebrations abounded, three in a row from 1998-2000 which included me from college and our oldest two from high school. We’ve made friends with people from all walks of life through numerous churches, jobs, and neighborhoods.

I am thankful to God for all of this life – the good and the bad. I am thankful He has been there always, even when I fell away from following Him as I should. I am looking to Him for my future, for who else is there to sustain me?

Marriage Musings

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Today I was looking for a quote to include on a card for a wedding shower tomorrow. I found a few gems that I’d like to share.

This is the one I used: 

  “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” This was from Ruth Bell Graham who was the wife of Billy Graham. I can relate to this so well. I have needed a lot of forgiving over the years. Plus, I like her name since mine is the opposite – Graham Bell! 

Here are some more:

 “Enjoy the little things in life… For one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” – Kurt Vonnegut.  This goes along with my blog from yesterday.

“I got gaps; you got gaps; we fill each other’s gaps.” – Rocky Balboa. This was probably the only intelligent thing he ever said –lol! I love it because I can really apply it. My husband has always been more cautious or alert about potentially dangerous things or situations, whereas I have been either naive or a bit too free. We certainly balance each other out in a lot of ways.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child. That may be the case, but the truth is that it takes a lot of solid, stable marriages to create a village.” Diane Sollee. I love this one and can’t really add more.

“To keep the fire burning brightly, there’s one easy rule: keep the two logs together, near enough to keep each other warm and far enough apart — about a finger’s breadth — for breathing room. Good fire, good marriage, same rule.” – Mamie Reed Crowell.  I really like this analogy. That breathing room part is so important. About a finger’s breadth.

   Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years.”  – Simone Signoret   This is so beautiful!

Challenge for today: Keep sewing together with those hundreds of tiny threads.