into the future, or so says Steve Miller’s song, Fly Like an Eagle. I wish I were like an eagle. I’m more like an overfed, ground-bound tom-turkey, lucky to have survived two adjacent thanksgivings. But the time is still dashing past, while I do little more than mourn its passing and grow ever closer to my own.
When you are young, you have not had many experiences to produce memories. Each memory is separated from the next, and the mental reach to retrieve any given one is so large that time seems to stretch. I wrote recently that, as a child, summer seemed to last a whole year.
As you grow older, you experience more and more, and the memories begin to pile up, one against the next, and the mental reach to retrieve each reduces, till time seems to fly past. With so many memories, it’s not unusual for old folks to reach back and mis-remember, by grabbing the wrong one. Did I feed the cats today?? I remember feeding the cats, but, with 2000 days of cat feeding, did what I remember, happen today? Or yesterday?? Or last week?
Four things have occurred in my life recently, in, what to me, was the blink of an eye. First, I had a birthday. I turned 68 on the autumnal equinox, and temporally hurtled past it so fast, that I didn’t even blog about it for two months. Next I managed to reach my 100th post, at my frenetic pace of every-three-days. Then, on Nov. 21st, two months to the day past my birthday, I reached my blogiversary, and got around to mentioning my birthday. Last, but definitely not least, the wife and I celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary on December 2nd.
I look at a couple of photos taken that day, which we have mounted in a collage, and wonder, who are those kids? Where have they gone? Of three people other than us in the shots, all later married, and all have got divorced.
We were poor as church-mice when we married. We met while taking educational upgrading at the local Community College, and had both just got jobs, after living for over a year on the equivalent of Unemployment Insurance payments. We married in my home-town in a compromise church. She was about to become an ex-Catholic, and I was a non-attending Baptist, so we were wed in an Anglican Church. I tipped the preacher $5.
My mother and half-sister prepared food, and the tiny reception was held at the sister’s big house, which had once been a Presbyterian manse. Of the wife’s nine siblings, only the two other failed Catholics attended. The group numbered only about 30. The bakery provided a two tiered cake. Normal wedding cake is heavy and solid, like Christmas-cake, to provide support for the tiers. Since ours was so small, we convinced the baker to do it in white cake. He slid a disc of cereal-box-like cardboard under the upper layer.
We wanted to spend a night at Niagara Falls, a two and a half hour drive. Married at noon on the Saturday, by 4 o’clock my mother mentioned that we should be on our way, but it had just started freezing rain. We left town and took the county road toward Niagara, but within three miles, we were falling off the crown of the road, and limping along the snowy shoulder. We decided to turn back for guidance. Just as we approached the crossroads, a sander/salter truck went by. He must be going somewhere! So we followed him. He went about half the way to Niagara, and, as night fell, he pulled into a works-yard in a small village. We spent our first married night at the village inn, and didn’t reach Niagara for several years.
I carefully inspected the car before we left, but found no soaped windows or just-married signs. I disconnected the de rigueur string of tin cans, and off we went. About five miles after we pulled behind the Roads truck, I found that someone had purchased a smoked fish, and wedged it under the exhaust manifold. The grease got hot, and I re-cooked it and burned it on. Getting it off a red-hot manifold without getting burned myself was an adventure. The smell of overcooked fish dissipated in about two weeks.
Like many other things in our lives, the wife and I are not so much stubborn about being married, as determined. We’ve been to counselling a couple of times, to file some of the sharper points off. As we age, and aches and pains multiply, and the number of external idiots seems to stretch to infinity, our patience diminishes, and we irk each other a bit more than we did when we were younger. I like to think though, that there is still some solid love for each other under the tough crusts.
When you are married for 50 years, you get a congratulatory letter from the Prime Minister. My Mom and Dad received theirs shortly before they died, but it was Mom’s second marriage and Dad’s late first. I think it meant more to me then, than it did to them. Still, I am looking forward to reaching that milestone, for more than just a piece of paper from some politician.
All aches and pains and diminishing strength aside, both of us are healthy enough to last another 15 years. My Mom was 92, and Dad was 85 when they passed. I have good genes. If the family cancer hasn’t even touched the wife before now, there’s a strong chance it never will, and medicine continues to improve. After 60 years of marriage, you also receive a letter of congratulations from the Queen, in the same way you can now get a personal tweet from the Pope. I anticipate getting my certificate from a Royal Footman.