March 8, 2022
LuAnn is six months older than me. March to September. She was six months older when we first met. She’s still six months older today. I’m beginning to think she will always be six months older.
Many years ago, I felt I needed to do something about that.
When my beloved bride turned 40, on March 8, 1994, I told her I didn’t want her to grow old alone. So, on that day, I began telling people (anyone who asked) that I too was 40. I’ve done that ever since. For twenty-seven years to be exact.
In keeping with my tradition, since last March 8, I’ve been telling everyone (anyone who asked) that I was 67 years old. This past September 13, I actually turned 67. I have remained 67 until today, March 8, LuAnn’s birthday, when I am happily turning 68.
Silly? Probably. Sentimental? Absolutely.
LuAnn and I first met in seventh grade. The fall of 1967. The school she attended in Viking, Minnesota (population 126) only went through the sixth grade. She and her classmates were then bused 14 miles over to Newfolden, my home town, a bustling metropolis of 350 souls. Our dads had grown up together as neighbors and best friends but the families lost touch after my dad died in 1955. LuAnn’s and my meeting was a reuniting of the families. She and I became instant friends.
We’ve been friends for 54 years. We became “a couple” in the summer of 1969 so we’ve been dating for 52 years. (Yes, we’re still dating.) We got married in the fall of 1973 so we’ve been husband and wife for 48 years. For half a century, through ups and downs, through thick and thin, we’ve never left each other’s side. We love doing everything together. We love doing nothing together. We can do nothing together all day.
It hasn’t always been like that. Through the years we’ve had to do some adjusting to accommodate each other. (Adjust: To alter or move something slightly to achieve the desired fit, appearance, or result. Accommodate: To fit in with the wishes or needs of another.)
Have you noticed how some people come to resemble their dogs? Marriage is kind of like that. (I would be the dog in that analogy.) The longer we’re together and the deeper we’re committed to each other, the more alike we become. I want to be more like my wife. (Those of you who know LuAnn are saying, “Well, yeah.”) So, one of the things I do is lie a little about my age. Lots of people lie about their age. They do it so people think they’re younger. I do it so they think I’m older. I do it so I’m more like LuAnn.
Finishing each other’s sentences is normal for most couples as they grow together and become more alike. Knowing what the other is thinking before they say a word happens for many. Starting the same song on the same note at exactly the same time is a little more unique. (We do that one often.) Here are a few others: Knowing what the other wants so they don’t ever have to ask. Knowing each other’s hopes and dreams. Knowing what gives them joy and what causes them pain. Genuinely learning to enjoy or appreciate (not just tolerate) the other’s interests, hobbies, and pastimes. It’s also being willing to lay down your own interests, hobbies, and pastimes for the sake of the other. It’s asking yourself if your interests, hobbies, and pastimes contribute to the quality of your relationship or detract from it. But that’s too convicting so I won’t mention that.
Now don’t get me wrong. LuAnn and I couldn’t be more different. On every personality test or aptitude analysis we have ever taken we always score as exact opposites. But here’s the mystery: We don’t lose who we are when we become like the other. We don’t become less, we become more. Better. Larger or fuller. More whole. It’s synergy (where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts). It’s becoming One. It takes a long while for couples to come into that kind of unity.
I suspect it’s that kind of relationship (the kind of relationship that’s willing to adjust and accommodate) that has allowed LuAnn and me to survive the trauma and drama of our journey. I suspect it’s that kind of relationship that has enabled us to suffer the hard times and allowed us to endure the long, hard miles. I suspect it’s that kind of relationship that has helped us sustain the isolated, houseless life of nomads and travelers these past six years. I suspect it’s that kind of relationship that lets us drive thousands of miles without ever turning on the radio because we’re still captivated by each other’s conversation and comfortable with each other’s silence.
LuAnn just turned 68 years old. Today. Me too. In the words of Indiana Jones, “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.” So, Happy Birthday, Sweetheart. Here’s to you. Here’s to us. Here’s to 68 years. And here’s to the mileage.
P.S. Lest my words have led you to believe LuAnn and I have a perfect marriage, we don’t. No, no. As I write these words, we’re in the middle of a terrible row. (Yes, after all these years and all that mileage.) But here’s the thing. Here’s the best and craziest part. I can still write all that about LuAnn’s and my love for each other and mean every word even when we’re at odds. Even when we’re fighting. Because we know we’ll always make up. Our love has no end. (I can hardly wait for the making up.)