I always thought I would grow up and live happily ever after. Not that birds would be singing on my windowsill every morning (in fact, I wish the birds would hush up at 3 am this time of year) or that I would wake up with fresh breath and perfectly coiffed hair. Not the cartoony-princess type of happily ever after.
What I dreamt of was being able to look across a table at the same person for 50 or 60 years and still feel my heart skip a beat when he smiled at me. To walk hand in hand, the way I saw my grandparents walk, even when their steps were a bit slower and their hands were gnarled with arthritis. I think that was one reason I was so devastated when after nearly 20 years my first marriage ended badly and in divorce court. Our papers were official less than 2 months before I turned 40. I doubted that I would ever marry again, much less be married to the same person for 60 years. While I’m not a math whiz, I can-on occasion-do the math. 40 + 60 really does = 100!
I wasn't long before I realized that one of the casualties of divorce is the loss of someone with whom to share memories.
Remember that time when…?
Remember when the boy took his first steps at his first birthday party?
Remember when the baby girl wanted to be a pink kitty?
Remember the night we danced all night…literally?
The only person who shared most of the memories of my babies and children when they were young had walked out the door. My girlhood dream of looking across that table and smiling at someone included that Someone being the father of my children. The Someone with whom I’d left my parents' house for the far corners of the world and never once looked back. The Someone with whom I had shared my youth, who knew me before I had stretch marks, gray hair or so many things had headed south. Clearly, THAT part of my dream was hosed.
I packed up my dream of happily ever after. I thought that I ought to have listed it in the settlement. I felt like someone had taken my dream and torn it in half.
Enter, in time, the Amazing Rocket Man. He was never, ever getting married again. Never. Period. End of discussion. His first marriage had ended so miserably that he declared he would rather eat dirt than marry again.
I agreed at first. We were friends who had occasional conversation. Actually, he was the Sunday School Teacher in the Singles Class at my church. I taught his daughter in children’s choir. We met at a Mother-Daughter banquet (and THAT is a story worth telling). So, we were friends. Then we began to send some emails. Then he invited me to drop by his house. Then, all of the sudden, he was buying me a Hershey Bar and we were sitting up talking until 2 in the morning. He doesn’t stay up that late. I found myself in L-O-V-E love. Head over heels. By and by, our love blossomed and even Mr. "I'd rather eat dirt than ever get married again" began to discuss the possibility of blending our families and growing old together and sharing his life and his family name with me. We were married on a Saturday night in May with all of our children present. We went to the Waffle House to celebrate (another story that really MUST be told at some point) and began our life together.
Here is what I learned. I found out that in mid-life you can rearrange your dreams. Happily ever after still includes looking across the table at the same person…just happens to be a person I’ve only known as an adult. The man who is Granddaddy to my Grandchildren. The man with whom I have shared an occasional rocky path, but also some glorious turns in the journey.
This happily ever after is born out of a determination to learn from and not repeat previous mistakes and it is jammed full of contentment.
This happily ever after is steady and sturdy, tested by fire at its conception and remains strong and true.
This happily ever after is so worth it, even if it isn’t what I had originally planned.
I’m hoping that we make it to celebrate our Golden Anniversary. Even better, that we can remember what we are celebrating when we are in our 90s!
Happily ever after? You betcha I believe in it. I’m living the dream!