When I woke up the other morning, I glanced over at my sleeping husband who had once again wrapped himself in all the blankets and the realization hit me, “Wow, we’ve been married for 53 years!” Then I recalled what our son had said not long ago, “You guys have been married longer than all of my friends’ parents combined!”
The next thing that popped into my mind was that it wasn’t so much the number of years as it was the quality of our relationship. I smiled to myself, and happily moseyed into the kitchen thinking about how lucky we were to be married and how it all began. Very often, after people find out how long we’ve been married, they immediately want to know how we met.
It was simply a fluke.
I was just nineteen, studying at UCLA and working part-time as a combination babysitter and nursery school teacher for a group of young children whose mothers all lived on the same block of San Ysidro Drive in Beverly Hills. I was studying art and really wasn’t trained to be a nursery school teacher but I had a lot of enthusiasm, energy and I loved kids.
On the other hand, my social life had just tanked. I had been living somewhat of a clichéd teenager’s life ––– I was the head song leader in high school and was dating the star football quarterback. We had been going together for two or three years and planned on getting married. One day out of the blue, he decided that we were too young for marriage and broke up with me. I was devastated.
Two weeks later, surrounded by my toddlers at nursery school, I was talking to one of the mothers as we watched the kids giggling and playing. I mentioned that my boyfriend had recently dumped me. She turned to me and smiled, “I have a dear friend, Bob. I’ll fix you up with him. We went to UCLA together…
…He’s great looking, has a super sense of humor and is very sharp. But nothing will ever come of it because he’s much older than you, very sophisticated, has traveled all over the world and had been married to this gorgeous blonde. But, I’ll give him your number. You never know.”
To be honest, this guy didn’t sound very promising and I didn’t think any more about it. But, later that same week I got a call from him. He asked me what I was doing that weekend. I said, “Do you really want to know the truth?” He replied, “Yes, of course.” and I said, “I’m not doing a damned thing.” Later, my husband-to-be told me how impressed he had been with my honesty, particularly in someone so young. He asked to take me to dinner on a Friday night. He suggested picking me up after work and taking me to his apartment so he could change and then we’d go out to dinner.
On that fateful night, the doorbell rang. My mother opened the door, Bob walked in and I fell in love. He was so good-looking. To my teenage mind he had it all ––– he was really handsome and he had a foreign car! What more could a nineteen-year-old girl ask for?
We drove to his apartment in Brentwood. It was actually a charming little mews cottage down a country lane lined with Eucalyptus trees. I walked in, and was immediately struck by the inviting fireplace set in an entire wall of used brick. His furniture consisted of two chairs, a coffee table and the largest stereo speakers I’d ever seen. He immediately put on a record of some really cool music, Ella Fitzgerald singing Rogers and Hart. After he changed his clothes, he asked if I’d like a martini. Martini? “Sure,” I said. I’ve never had one before but why not. So we sipped martinis, listened to music and talked a lot. Then he suggested a restaurant for dinner. I was so comfortable, I just blurted out, “Why don’t we just barbecue and eat here? I can cook.”
Well, he was blown away. A first date who actually wanted to cook. We went to the local market, Westward Ho, where I proceeded, fortified by a martini, to weave down the aisles clutching the shopping cart. We bought a top sirloin steak and the makings for a salad and off we went. He barbecued, I made a salad and that was the beginning of our fifty-three years together.
We continued to date and discovered how much we enjoyed being together. We laughed at the same things and never stopped talking. We always seemed to be on the same wave length. Although our relationship was growing and deepening and seemed to be leading towards marriage, he was concerned about my age. While I had no reservations at all, this was a problem that plagued Bob. So one night, he went out alone to dinner with a very close male friend and after many drinks told his friend all about me and his concerns about my age. His friend stared for a long time into his drink, then up at Bob and quietly said, “For a long time now you’ve been describing Sandy to me. You’ve told me that she’s loving, intelligent, beautiful, sensitive and kind. And you’re complaining about her being young. Tell me, what are you waiting for? Rigor mortis?”
Things moved pretty quickly after that and Bob asked me to marry him. But, he thought we should wait until I turned twenty so I wouldn’t be a teenager when we got married. That was fine with me. I was thrilled to be marrying the man I loved at any age.
Suddenly his mother became ill. Terminally ill. She was hospitalized and I thought it would make her happy if she could see her son get married. I suggested we marry immediately and have the ceremony at the hospital. We decorated the hospital solarium with flowers, invited close family, had a chuppah set up –––it’s a canopy under which a Jewish couple stand during their wedding ceremony. I was so nervous that I waited outside the room reading a telephone book. When the ceremony began, I started crying and my nose started running. I didn’t know what to do. My husband glanced at me, smiled and put out his hand to catch ––– how shall I say this ––– the drippings from my nose. At that moment, I realized that love takes many forms and that Bob truly was the right man for me.
Fifty-three years later, we love each other more than ever. Yes, there have been good times and bad times. But we have always worked things through and we have the same set of values. People often remark that we seem to have so much to say to one another. It’s just that we share so many interests in common like classical music, computers, photography, hiking, skiing, art, museums, movies, books and grandchildren. We’re nearly always on the same page in life. Well, that is until I told him that I was going to blog about how we met and married. My dear husband, the perennial producer and director said, “Why bother? No one will care. “
Fifty-three years later and he still hasn’t learned that he’s not right all the time.
Happy Anniversary, Sweetie.