51 Years And Counting

IMG_0386 (1) This past Sunday Bill and I celebrated our 51st year of marriage … “for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.” It’s the bit about “till death do us part,” that makes each year we have together more precious than the last. In November I will turn seventy-four and three days later, Bill will turn seventy-seven. We’re still young, but these days we give much thought to aging as we discover we can’t do all of things we used to. Getting up off the floor after yoga class isn’t graceful anymore. Bill’s knee replacement in January was successful but it still doesn’t work the way the old one did before it gave out. And now a shoulder is giving him trouble.

Over the past few years we’ve noticed that friends have become incapacitated with body parts that no longer work. Terminal illnesses take others. So far we have been blessed, marching on together on our own chosen paths, yet watching each other carefully for any missteps. We do our best to live and celebrate each other and every moment we have together.

I used to complain and wish time away. It was either too hot, too cold, too rainy, or too sunny. I wasn’t happy with what the way things were going. My most used phrases were, “If only ______,” and  “When ______ , then I’ll _____.” Now I want it to stop time from moving so quickly.

We have entered the autumn years of our lives and it’s time to slow down, rather than rush around, like thirty-year-olds with under-the-gun missions to accomplish. We still have many thing we want to do and lots goals to reach for, but it’s a relief to live without that kind of pressure. Being of “a certain age” is wonderful in that we can use the difficult lessons we learned as youngsters, and see more clearly with our inner eyes and hearts. We appreciate the abundance of love and peace that we immerse ourselves in, and do our best to live one moment at a time.

Happy Anniversary to us and all of you who are still in our lives
and continue to join us on this huge, mysterious adventure!

How I Met The Love Of My Life, Part II



For those who are waiting to hear Part II of my love story, here it is. If you missed Part I you can read it here.

As that summer moved into late June and early July, a few interesting things began to happen. Bill invited me to join the gang (Russ and all the kids) for a movie on a Friday night. I was tired and not thrilled about being with a whole bunch of people, especially kids, but decided, Hey, why not. It’s an opportunity to get out and do something different, instead of sitting around here at home.

Bill pulled into the driveway in his VW bus, loaded with Russ and three or four boys and the sister of one of the boys. I climbed into the front passenger seat which was empty. Russ sat in the back surrounded by kids telling jokes that weren’t all that funny. During a break in the chatter, I asked what movie we were going to see. Bill answered: “We’re going to Tarzan goes to India.”

Yikes, I thought. Then Russ piped up and said “I’m not going to that crap. I’m going to see Hud, with Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, and Patricia Neal.

Which movie do you think I chose? You guessed it. I went to see Hud, with Russ, I had no inkling that Bill’s invitation to the movies was supposed to be a date. Would you have thought it was a date? With a bunch of kids in tow?

Word got back to me the next day when my brothers told me that Bill had been very disappointed. The next time he invited me on a Friday night movie trip to town, I smiled teasingly and said, “No. If you really want a date with me, we have to go alone. No kids or Russ. And by the way, I’m not a Tarzan fan.”

We spent the rest of the summer, going to shows at Vermont’s abundant summer theatre venues, ate luscious dinners together, and went to the movies alone now and then. I liked Bill a lot and began joining the gang for Friday night movies regardless of what they were going to see.

One night after a movie and a stop at the local ice-cream joint, my brother, Reid climbed into the front passenger seat. Bill told him to get in the back, but Reid refused, saying, “But I got here first.” Bill went around to the passenger side and pulled Reid out, pushed him up against the bus and said, “That is where your sister sits from now on.”

I’m not exactly sure of the exact moment that love sruck, but Bill became my best friend who listened to me and understood me. Best of all he loved my crazy family and they loved him. Bill and my father, argued philosophy and politics at the dinner table. And there were times when I thought Mom and Dad cared more about him than they cared about me.

When September rolled back around, Bill went back to New York City, to finish his masters at Columbia’s Teachers College. He was interested in international education and his dream was to open or be involved in a secondary school with kids from all over the world.

I went back to school as well, and resumed my job as a waitress and chambermaid at the Lodge. I stopped dating anyone else, and put all of my energy into my classes.

I missed Bill terribly and before long we were talking on the phone most evenings. Bill drove the four or five hours to Vermont for long weekends and school holidays. He’d put more work into the Round House, and we spent time hiking in the mountains and skiing when snow fell. He stayed at our house, not the lodge, and my father even allowed me to go down to New York to visit him. The big caveat was I had to stay in a hotel whose clientele were only women. The name of the place now escapes me, but it must have been one of last vestiges of the Victorian era. And knowing my father was not above checking up on me in his own sneaky way, I did stay there … at night.

The most memorable trip to see Bill was the day John F. Kennedy was killed. I was on the bus just outside of the city, when at one of the stops, a Trailways employee stepped up on the bus and announced that Kennedy had been killed. All of us on the bus were in shock, many of us in tears. Bill and I spent the next few days together glued to the television set, grieving the loss of the young and bright shining star who would lead us into a glorious future.

If nothing else can pull a couple together it is the processing of grief and loss. Through the sadness, we talked about getting married. At Christmas I had a ring on my left hand and traveled to Washington, DC, where Bill’s folks lived.

I had one more year of school to finish up. Bill, done with his Masters, applied for several teaching jobs in Vermont. He was hired as an English teacher and dorm master at St. Johnsbury Academy, in the northeast corner of the state, about an hour and a half away from Killington.  We spent the next year talking on the phone when we weren’t together, and on June 19th, 1965, a few weeks after I graduated from Castleton, Bill and I were married.

I don’t know where the years have gone. Some think that after 50 years together, some couples get tired of each other. Of course, we’ve had our not so good times, but we always worked our way through the problems. We still talk every day when we’re off in different corners of the world and always look forward to being together again. There is of course more to my story, and maybe over time I’ll have more stories for you.

Our Family, Summer 1970

Our Family, Summer 1970

Do check back here next Tuesday to learn about my monthly newsletter, which I’ll start sending out in October.

A True, Crazy Love Story

1965 In Paris on our honeymoon.

1965 In Paris on our honeymoon.

Recently my husband, Bill was away on a trip. Even though we do love having time apart, we usually miss each other and talk by phone or computer every day.

That week was no exception. I was home cleaning out my studio, writing, feeling a bit cabin fevery, as the heat and humidity made it hard to be out and about. I felt a bit lonely and even bored at times. There were few if any distractions. Most people I know were away and this university town was napping until things heat up when classes resume in a few weeks and you can’t keep up with the list of interesting events that fill the local paper’s What’s Happening Section.

Bill was at music camp learning to play his Ukulele even better than before, sharing some time with our grand kids, and learning how to maneuver a trip with a bum knee.

Both of us are movie buffs and whenever we get away to a larger city, we check to see what’s playing at the local movie houses. Midway through the week Bill called and told me he was going to a movie that evening. It turned out the same movie, Paper Towns, was playing here in Charlottesville, too. Feeling the need to get out of the house, and not wanting him to get ahead of me on seeing a good flick, we decided to make a night of it. Both films, hundreds of miles apart, had the very same starting time. When we hung up the phone we promised we’d each blow kisses to each other as the movie titles were beginning.

As I was getting ready to leave home a few hours later, a huge thunder storm with predicted torrential rain came up. Though it wasn’t yet pouring, I thought it might be best to stay home and avoid being out on the roads. But knowing we had made a date, I told myself, Hell no! You really need to get out of here.

I parked my car under cover just as the heavens opened up. Safe and dry in my seat, I spent 25 minutes watching commercials for Coke, athletic shoes, and new cars. The trailers that followed were torturous and I wanted to leave the theatre when in a new Halloween film to be released in early October, a grisly looking grandmother asks her granddaughter to climb into the oven to clean it. I won’t go further here because we both know what good ole granny has in mind for the kid. Gingerbread aside, the rest of the trailers were also horrendous except for one or two which won’t be out until Thanksgiving.

When the movie finally started I blew kisses off to Bill, who was seated in an almost identical movie theatre in Asheville, North Carolina. During the first part of the film I almost got up and left. The cute, adolescent, female love interest was a witch, leading her innocent, handsome, male love interest astray; teaching him how to break the rules and make life into an thrilling escapade without getting caught.

My thoughts: , Coming out on a stormy night was such a stupid idea. Why don’t I just go home and read a good book.

As I sat thinking about going back out into the rain, I noted the girl runs away from home and the boy recruits his best friends and goes on an epic journey to find her. The movie, without the monstrous girl involved, became more appealing and the story turned out to be about true friendship, growing up, and finding our way through puberty into adulthood. According to the synopsis I read, it was supposed to be a love story, but it wasn’t. It was supposed to be a mystery, but I didn’t care what had happened to the girl. The end was somewhat uplifting and though I enjoyed the last half of the film, I had to wonder about the screenwriter and what he’d been thinking.

Back at home, I put the dogs out for their last potty break of the night. A few minutes later the phone rang. Bill had just arrived back in his room. We spent half- an-hour talking about the movie and what we liked and didn’t, (mainly the girl) what was on our agendas for the next day, and blew kisses into the phone as we said goodnight.

We’d never been out on a date like that before. As I closed my eyes and went off to sleep, I reached over to where he’d be had he been home. I was happy for my own love story and the craziest date I’d ever been on.

We all have love stories. What’s yours? Have you been out on any crazy dates?

I’m The Proud Parent Of A Lesbian

June 20, 2014. My daughter Lisa and her Partner, Deena, were legally married in Washinton, DC.

June 20, 2014. My daughter Lisa and her Partner, Deena, were legally married in Washinton, DC.

Years ago when my new gas range wasn’t working properly, I called a repairman to come fix it. He arrived at lunchtime while I was eating a beautiful salad I had just prepared for myself. I stayed put, thinking he’d get the repair done quickly and be out of my way. He seemed very nice at first, but it was an election year. He began ranting about people on the left and about certain deranged people who think they should have special rights to marry other people of the same sex.

My stomach went sour. Steam started coming out from my ears. Trying to be halfway decent, I told him that I didn’t discuss politics while I was eating and to please stop the discussion. He continued his tirade. I stood up and told him that my daughter was a lesbian and that his comments were not appreciated or appropriate in my home. I said, “Please stop talking and do your work, or leave.” He got quiet, mumbling to himself as he finished up the repair. When he was done, he snapped, “Well I guess I won’t be asked to come and fix your stove again!” My reply was,“You Betcha! Now tell me how much I owe you for the repair and get out of my house.”

To say that I was angry would be an understatement. I was crimson with rage. Hot tears streamed down my face, and I began my own rant to my husband, Bill, a member of the same choirI belong to, who was agreeing with me all the way.

Friday’s Supreme Court decision to give marriage rights to all gays and lesbians no matter what state they live in was a landmark decision that will join the ranks of others: Giving women the right to vote, giving African Americans the right to vote, Roe vs. Wade, and so many others.

I’m proud to say that my daughter is a lesbian, a member of a community filled with love, and has been sticking it out to fight for her rights. I’m even more proud that our country is standing up for and offering support to her and her brothers and sisters.

In the wake of all landmark decisions there are always disagreements and nay sayers who can make the climate uncomfortable and even dangerous. Those who don’t agree with big changes do have a right to disagree and protest, just as the gay and lesbian community had the same rights to protest their treatment.

However, it does not give anyone the right to be hateful. I allow myself to listen and discuss just about anything, but only if hatred is left at the door and tolerance fills the room where we talk.

Have you seen those bumper stickers on the back bumpers of cars saying: “I’m A Proud Parent of an Honor Roll Student at Such and Such High School?”

Well, I have a new one I’d like to get printed out and put on my back bumper:

“I’m The Proud Parent Of A Lesbian.”

Love, Wedding Bells, and Same-Sex Legalities



“A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things.”
― Barack Obama

 Last Friday, June 20th,  my daughter Lisa, and Deena her partner of seventeen years, were legally married in a civil ceremony in Washington, DC.  The weather forecast just days before was for a rainy, humid weekend.  But as we drove north from our home in Virginia on Friday morning, the clouds cleared and we were greeted with deep blue skies and wedding perfection all day long.

Mary Gordon singing for the brides.

Mary Gordon singing for the brides.

Bill and I were there along with grandchildren, Zoe and Noah, Lisa and Deena’s kids.  One of Lisa’s oldest and dearest friends, Mary Gordon Hall and her partner Nancy, were there as well.  Before vows were exchanged in the small courtyard of the hotel we were staying in, Mary Gordon, serenaded the wedding couple with a heart wrenching song. DC resident and wedding planner, Travis Crytzer, wrote the vows, got all of the legal paper work done ahead of time and  joined them in marriage at approximately 3:30 PM.  It was a beautiful day, a beautiful ceremony, and I cried happy-tears as Lisa and Deena said their “I dos.”

It was so wonderfully appropriate, as just the day before, Bill and I celebrated our forty-nineth year of marriage.  If we count the two years we spent as a couple before we went to church and made it legal, it would make it fifty-one years.

Times have changed.  Back in the sixties there were no same-sex marriages performed except perhaps for very small and private commitment ceremonies between gays and lesbians. Homosexuals were called fairies and were treated with hatred and disrespect by the general public.  If you had a gay or lesbian relative, you most likely whispered about them so that your friends and neighbors wouldn’t know you had a “weirdo” in your family.

Today there are seventeen states with legalized gay marriage laws. More will be joining the fold in the coming years.  It’s a slow process, but it will happen.  These days, people are waking up to the fact that though the person standing next to them may be gay, they deserve the same rights as everone else.  The old, hateful  attitudes are the same prejudices what kept women and people of color from the right to vote for far too long. All of those struggles took years before they were finally settled. Though racists and homophobes are  still around,  life is easier as a result of the pain and suffering of those who helped bring change to our world.

The tatooed wedding rings they hid for several weeks.

The tatooed wedding rings they hid for several weeks.

Bill and I are the proud parents of our lesbian daughter and daughter-in-law.  Let’s all pray that we’ll see same-sex marriage legalized throughout our entire country.  What a happy-tear day that will be.

Zoe, Lisa, Deena, and Noah

Zoe, Lisa, Deena, and Noah