by Liz Flaherty
We were 23 and 21. He was just home from Vietnam and I was a single mom long before it was fashionable. I used to say my son did the actual proposing, because the second time he met Duane, Chris spouted "dadadadad" and took off walking. He was 10 months old and quite capable of choosing his own father, thank you very much.
Two more children followed. We were like a lot of other couples from our generation. We raised our kids and worked the same jobs for 30-plus years whether we liked them or not. We bought our second house in 1977 and we're still living in it. I'm pretty sure my melamine early-marriage dishes are still in a box in the attic.
We worked different shifts for years so that the kids usually had an available parent. It was lonely then, and hard, being married but alone. The kids played sports so that we spent years on the bleachers. They went to college, married the people who became three more kids of our hearts, and offered up the Magnificent Seven, our grandkids.
We've had days and nights and years of laughter. He's the biggest supporter of my writing career and I'd rather hear him sing and play the guitar than anyone else. We can finish each other's sentences, feel each other's pain, and say "I love you" just by having our eyes meet.
But I still hate that he loves TV and is a terrible listener. He still hates that I'm a marginal housekeeper and totally incapable of mowing grass in either a straight line or an elegant curved one. We've had snarling days of not liking each other, silent days of not liking each other, days when the only reason we were married at all was because our kids thought of us as a unit. We've been bored sometimes, we've been mad, we've gotten imaginary divorces on our long separate drives home from work, but when we got to the house we were so glad to see each other we thought we might as well stay married at least one more day.
Oh, yes, one more day. Thank you, Lord, for one more days. It's been 45 years of one more days. It is those days and the moments within them that are the true definition of Happily Ever After. I am grateful, I am blessed, I am lucky. I get to spend my life with my hero and he gets to spend his with me.
I'm aware I wrote about the Happily Ever After last week and that I said Happy Anniversary to Duane then. You have my apology for repeating myself, but not really. I will never tire of reading and writing Happily Ever Afters. Or of living one.
Have a great week.