You’re still the one

Sue and Roger with Bubbe. October 20, 1991
Sue and Roger with Bubbe. October 20, 1991

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.   Song of Solomon 6:3

An open letter to my husband on our anniversary.

Dear Roger,

24 years!  On this our anniversary day, I’m looking back on some of my favorite memories.

  • I remember meeting you at a contra dance at a church in Worcester. My two friends ditched me at the last minute, so I decided to go by myself. I was so glad when you asked me to dance; the song was (appropriately enough) “Swing my Susie.” During a lemonade break in the church kitchen, you mentioned that you would need to sit out the next dance because you didn’t know how to waltz. I knew you were someone special when you were willing to practice waltzing amidst the oversized pots and pans, laughing as we avoided stacks of dishes and random piles of vases.  My journal entry from that night reads, “Met a cute guy with a nice smile and dark, sparkling eyes.”
  • I admired your courage when you told me on our second date (cross-country skiing in the sleet and rain, remember?) that you were Jewish. You assumed it would be a deal-breaker for me, this minister you had just met. When you told me that a message of compassion and caring was important to you but that you didn’t care if the messenger was Jesus, Moses, or Buddha, I knew we could make this work.
  • And five weeks later, we were engaged.

We got married on a Sunday. Very early that morning you came to the parsonage to wake me up.  We walked to the church together just as the sun was rising, shining on the autumn leaves. The empty sanctuary was filled with a golden light as we said our wedding vows to each other.  We considered ourselves married at that moment – which was good, because when we gathered that afternoon with our family and friends, I couldn’t remember my vows at all!

One of your promises was to make me laugh every day – and you have been true to your word.

I celebrate some of our “firsts”

  • Our first restaurant together: Friendly’s, for a cup of coffee after the contra dance.
  • Our first date: Thai food, followed by the play “Driving Miss Daisy”
  • Our first fight: When you ate the chocolate chips I had set aside for baking.
  • Our first holiday together: Easter (which you didn’t even celebrate!), getting ready for my whole family to come for Sunday dinner after worship.
  • Our first hot air balloon ride: over the Berkshires, on our honeymoon.

During our first December together, we bought a menorah so we could celebrate Hanukah. At Christmas a few weeks later you gave me a quote by Katharine Hepburn: “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get – only with what you are expecting to vie – which is everything. What you will receive in return varies. But it really has no connection with what you give. You give because you love and cannot help giving. If you are very lucky, you may be loved back.”  We’ve both been very lucky.

In February 1993 I went on a week-long silent retreat.  I told you that we could have no contact with each other; the only reason you could call was if you heard any news about our much-anticipated adoption.  You called with joy in your voice,“Our son was born!” So our parenting adventure began; I am blessed to have such a good partner who is also an excellent father.

Mostly I don’t have the words to describe how grateful I am for our love.  That’s why I like the quote by Brian Andreas that hangs in our bedroom: “I read once that the ancient Egyptians had fifty words for sand and the Eskimos had one hundred words for snow. I wish I had a thousand words for love, but all that comes to mind is the way you move against me while you sleep – and there are no words for that.”

24 years!  And hoping for at least 24 more.

You’re still the one. And we’re still having fun.

Happy Anniversary, sweetie.

And here’s our song.

My Parents: A Love Story

September 9, 1950
September 9, 1950

A&P walking

At 8:00 p.m. on September 9, 1950 my parents were married at Saint Michael’s and All Angels Episcopal Church in Portland Oregon.  Every anniversary they take the opportunity to review the past year and spend some moments to dream about the future.  They also jokingly (I think it’s a joke) decide whether they should “re-up” for another year of marriage and keep this partnership going. And so far, they have agreed to stay together. As my mother says, it looks like this relationship is going to stick.

Sixty-five years. It’s a daunting number.  Their partnership has spanned decades that have brought social, technological, and political changes that were unimaginable in those early post-war years. Side by side they have weathered a lifetime of events – personally and globally – from sad and tragic to joyous and glorious.

As a pastor, I engage in pre-marital counseling with couples preparing for marriage.  I encourage them to consider which marriages they admire and which relationships they might want to emulate. One of the great blessings of my life is that I experienced first-hand my role models for marriage.  Over the years I have observed my parents intentionally nurture their relationship as it continues to evolve as an active, thriving, and love-filled union.

Here is some of what I have learned from their love story:

  • Be willing to take a risk. My mom lived in Oregon, my dad was from CT; they met when my mother’s brother married an East Coast girl. Over the course of three years, my parents saw each other only four times before their wedding day. They trusted their gut feeling that this was a relationship worth working for.
  • Dare to reveal who you are. Hundreds of letters helped them bridge the 3000 mile gap between them. Each note offered glimpses of their hopes, dreams, disappointments, feelings, and questions. These shared imaginings and stories formed the foundation of their relationship.
  • Learn new things. My mother was a 20 year old city girl who moved to rural Connecticut surrounded by dairy farms and apple orchards. When my father left for work (they only had one car), she was left on her own to meet the neighbors and discover the mysteries of gardening, preserving, and canning.  She is one of the bravest people I know – she dove into this new lifestyle wholeheartedly, determined to make this challenging situation work.
  • Cocktail hour is important. It isn’t about the drinking (sherry for my mom, Scotch for my dad), but about the listening.  Every evening this was their precious time to sit down together, talk about their day, and catch up with one another.  It taught me the value of taking (and making) time for my partner.
  • Say thank you. My parents thank each other for big and little things – thank you for taking out the trash, for cooking supper, for changing the lightbulb, for being there when I need you. They taught me the value of appreciation.
  • Notice at the sunset. Our tiny house on top of a big hill faced west. Almost every evening my parents would call my brothers and me together to admire the changing colors and growing dusk as the sun sank behind the hills. Even something that happens every single day can be precious.
  • Invite your friends over. My parents hosted cocktail parties, bridge gatherings, and countless holidays for an eclectic band of relatives and friends. They encouraged us to do the same – cast parties, birthday celebrations, Easter morning sunrise service for the youth group – everyone was welcome.  My appreciation for hospitality began in that small cottage that always had room for everyone.
  • Make the best of any situation. A broken down car was an opportunity to walk home and get some exercise, the electricity going out was a chance to eat by candlelight, a sudden change in the plans was an invitation to try something new. My parents never dwelled in disappointment but instead discovered the unexpected that was offeredWhen two people get married, no one can know what the future will hold. I was blessed to grow up with two people filled with love, integrity, creativity, strength and courage.  That is something worth celebrating.
  • Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.
  • A&P dancing
  • (My parents dancing at my niece’s wedding, August 2015)