I Forgot

I think I’d forgotten the beautiful things that come with having a full time partner.  The wedding is coming, and we are planting roots in Raleigh – working to build a life together.

Of course, there are the typical wins of most any relationship.  Someone to unpack your day with, a Ted Lasso viewing partner, a cooker/cleaner combo for dinner, it makes it much more bearable.  But maybe it’s the small things that your mate brings that make life most special.

Like cloth napkins.  I’ve used paper Food Lion 150 count for years.  The first time Julie set the table for dinner and brought out the niceties, I was perplexed.  Is someone coming to dinner?  Do we have enough to eat?  It wasn’t a guest she was preparing for.  Only us.  Folded cotton, just for me!

She sets out a knife, even when we’re eating soup!  Just in case I suppose.

The half-and-half is sometimes in a wee little pitcher shaped like a cow.  I was used to a carton straight out of the fridge.

The sheets get changed often, not just when the housekeeper comes.

There are soap cubes in the shower with bits of salt (or something rough) to ensure my pours are fully exfoliated.  My face feels so clean.

We don’t use towels for weeks at a time – once or twice and a new one is due.  Mmm – fresh!

Candles abound and orchids are potted.  Real live ones that take ONE ice cube a week to quench their thirst.  Occasionally there’s a pitcher of water with lemons and limes – spa water it’s called. 

I’m encouraged to stretch to keep me limber and eat special oyster mushrooms from the Farmer’s market.  I’ve been to the market more in the past six months than I had been in years!

I’m not sure what I’m bringing to this partnership – maybe a little laughter and an extraordinary expertise at balancing a checkbook to the penny.  But wow, its fun to share once more… to have your personality complimented by another.  I’d forgotten how good that could be.

The Race Grows Sweeter in the Final Lap

There is a show on Amazon Prime called Modern Love.  It tells all sorts of stories about love – dating, marriage, adoption, young love and the episode we watched last night was about love between two older adults.

It starts with a road race.  A seventy year old woman has her eye on this distinguished, very slow running, soft-spoken gentleman.  She finishes the race before him but waits at the finish line to engage this man she’s had her eye on for some time.

At their first dinner together, Margo tells Ken, I have respect for your 35 year marriage and your sweet wife Betty, but I think you might have room in your heart for me.

He did.

It’s funny to think about folks in their 70’s having crushes and starting over.  But not being as far from that decade as I’d like, it is less surprising than it might have been ten years.  Julie and I are Margo and Ken, minus a few years.

The connection between them is sweet… and funny… and electric.  They sit in bed snuggled tightly together at night.  They read together, have afternoon drinks in their garden, run, go to parties – eyeing across the room – clearly more interested in each other than anyone else.

It doesn’t take long for the viewer to realize there are two story lines in this show.  One is the building of their relationship.  The other is Margo dealing with the loss of her new lover.  It isn’t clear how much time they had together, but this touching love story wasn’t a long one.  It was, however, maybe the most powerful of the series.

As Julie and I sat in the den watching our TV, the tears just flowed.  As Margo shared at Ken’s funeral:

Old love is different – it’s more realistic. We had already been through many ups and  downs in life.  We had learned to compromise, survived loss and mistakes.  Yes, old love is different, and yet it is also the same.  Ken and I did everything that young people do – fell in love, traveled, planted a garden, remodeled a house.  He called me sweetheart and on nights when were out a party, we came home after and sat on the rim of the bathtub, flossing our teeth, and gossiping about the evening.  Every time we passed each other in the house, Ken made it a point to stop and kiss me or squeeze my shoulder or grab my hand (maybe because he was afraid he might lose one he loved again; I get that).  He and I often told each other we are so lucky. 

Young love, even for old people, can be surprisingly bountiful.

Margo’s words rang true for us.  We have had our own ups and downs.  We have loved before.  We have had hope.  We have lost.  We have grown.  Our life maturity has led us to an honest, real, and different sort of connection.

Many couples meet later in life.  I think many also reinvent their relationship as time goes by.  My hope is that all have the opportunity to experience mature, honest love.  It takes a lot to get there:  pain, suffering, loss, and a few hard knocks.  But if you’re open and willing, if you pour in, you might receive in beautiful ways.

Looking Up!

Bruce Julie Tux

It was a bit over a year ago when I told a close friend I was headed to Charlotte, NC, for a work meeting.  This friend suggested I contact a sorority sister of hers, “Danny, I think you’d really hit it off.”

I wasn’t resistant.  I’ve been out on a number of dates over the past five or so years and although I hadn’t found Miss Right, I’ve met some interesting women and had enjoyable conversations.  People are fascinating and mostly nice.

I wasn’t overly optimistic, but I certainly didn’t dread the date.  I could always use a new friend.  Besides, she lived two hours away.  This relationship could easily dissolve simply by staying close to the Wake County line.

What I didn’t expect was to be totally captivated by this incredible woman.  What I couldn’t imagine was that I would start a relationship with someone who would emotionally fill me up in a way I hadn’t been filled in a very long time.

My mom has prayed for this for seven years.  I guess I haven’t because I had my plate full with other pressing issues.  It seemed insurmountable to heal enough from my loss to ever be open to a relationship again.

But BAM – it hit me.  It hit me hard.

The past seven years have been tough.  Don’t get me wrong, my girls and I have had really, really good times together.  But there are roles that they can’t and should not have to fill in our family.  It’s simply not their responsibility to ensure my happiness.  I have to figure that out on my own.

I think I’ve done OK, but man, to share the emotional load, to open up, to laugh and cry with someone again – someone who really cares about me in a different way than my parents or my kids – it sort of rounds things out.

I had forgotten.  I had filled my huge void with busy – running myself ragged so I didn’t have to sit still long enough to in fact realize how lonely I had become.  My kids were moving forward.  My friends were moving on.  I was not.  I was simply running in place.  Stuck in the middle.

Now, I breathe again.  Not just short gasps.  No, because of Julie, I’m taking deep, thoughtful, life-filling breaths.  She is a beautiful, optimistic, capable, happy, ball of fire!  We fit.

Movement forward isn’t always easy nor steady, and I bring a lot of baggage to the table.  But I think, instead of pushing it aside, she’s going to help me carry it.  She seems to see things in me that I don’t even see in myself.

In my darkest days, I never imagined happy like this.  I can’t believable that I found it.

Bruce and Julie

 

A Silver Lining

Family Circle 052614 0426

I do miss my kids when they are away for extended periods.  The oldest two are at Camp Seafarer on the coast of North Carolina; DJ for the whole summer, Stephanie for a month.  But what a great opportunity for Michelle and me!

I don’t think I realize how critically important it is to have that one-on-one time with my kids.  When you are shoved in a car together, just the two of you, for hours on end, you sing, you laugh, you talk!

Four times in the last year DJ and I have taken college tours, just the two of us.  We found a school, which was our ultimate goal, but we also began to build our impending adult relationship.

We nearly got trapped in an elevator; one trip we hit Chic Fil A four times in one day, we discovered Aloft Hotels and a mutual love of sushi.

i enjoyed a week with Stephanie when Michelle was at camp.  We ate out every, single night.  We took three walks around the neighborhood, she even advised me on the redecoration of the guest bedroom.  She has a good eye.

And now, it’s me and the little one.

How valuable it is.

I bet there are others in my life I should spend a bit of one-on-one with –

Co-workers

Nieces and nephews

My brother

Uncle Jesse (remember him?)

Friends who mean so much

Sometimes I hesitate because of time.  But generally, it’s laziness on my part.  A lack of motivation to take the time to make that call.

It’s difficult to build and maintain a relationship when you don’t make them a priority.  Perhaps I’ll work on that.

 

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