Me and My Bride!
A friend wrote to me today and sent her greetings to ‘you and your bride’. Well, that delightful phrase set me thinking. Clare (my bride!) and I have known each other for 61 years and we have been married for 56 of them, 57 this Christmas. I often wonder how this wonderful woman has put up with me during all those years.
Mrs. Thomas Thomas, my good friend from the little village in Wales where my parents had their house, once told me about a friend of hers. That friend had been married for 35 years and had never had a quarrel or a fight with her husband. ‘There she goes,’ she told me one morning. ‘Never a fight with her husband. Bloody boring marriage, if you ask me.’
The point, I suppose, is that yes, there can be disagreements within a marriage, and doubts, and uncertainties, and questions about major decisions, and no, we don’t agree on everything? How could we? And one of the best parts about marriage, well, ours anyway, is agreeing to differ, and then making up again, as quickly as possible, after any disagreements.
Whatever, it is hard to argue against 61 years of togetherness and happiness. The secret formula? Clare’s – to learn my languages with me, to help me with my work, to lift me up when I am down. Mine – to love cooking for her, spoiling her, bringing her flowers, and trying to support her as she has supported me.
We have often led separate lives – Clare as a tennis player, a national gymnastics judge, a dedicated show secretary of the local kennel club, a show dog owner, groomer, and handler. Me – as a rugby player and coach, a researcher who has travelled frequently and visited important libraries in my field, a poet and short story writer who has taken and led workshops and writing groups.
We have also worked together at all levels. Each of my four graduate courses (MA, Toronto, 1967) demanded a paper every two weeks. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – paper #1. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday -paper #2. Saturday – rugby with U of T Blues or Toronto Irish. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – paper #3. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday – paper #4.
I would sit in the kitchen and write the papers in longhand. Clare would sit at the other side of the table and type each page as I finished it. She did the editing too, when and where necessary. She also developed her computing skills faster than I did. Result: web pages, art work, design, photography, and several of my book covers. Our keys to success include team work, mutual assistance, deep caring and sharing, but separate paths, when and if we needed to take them.
So, there you have it. A swiftly-penned picture of me and my bride, or, as I call her, my better two-thirds. My life would have been very, very different without her. And don’t forget: behind every lucky man, there stands a wonderful woman.