To the Moon, Alice! (But Take Me With You)

12 Jan

Tomorrow marks my 33rd anniversary of marriage to a wonderful man. In previous years, I’ve used this event as a reason to wax over the ordinariness of our marriage or to tell you why my husband is my hero (much to his discomfort). By now, you pretty much know all there is to know about us . . . we’re not exactly Buzz-feed material.

However, I’m sad to say, there are still volumes to be written about double-digit anniversaries, because successful marriages are becoming increasingly rare in this fast-paced, me-first society. That is not to boast about “making it,” because, frankly, I sorta’ stumbled my way here. Given that I spend at least 70 percent of my time living in my own head and the rest judging with surprise that which has transpired while I was gone, I easily could have stormed away at many junctures along this merry adventure. I hung in there because I’m too lazy to cook and I can’t do math and Jerry is a master of both. I think he hung in there because I make him laugh—usually unintentionally.

Marriage is easy. All you have to do is say “I do,” sign the papers and ride off into the sunset. There ends the romance novel. Then comes love. Choosing to love, day after day, despite muddy footprints on clean floors, arguments on Christmas morning, less than angelic children, bounced checks, cars with mysterious dents, flannel pjs, temper tantrums, and all the other unromantic cogs that jam themselves into the wheel of bliss, now that’s the hard part.

I keep a reminder of what I believe is real love close to my heart. It came from an interview with the late Jessica Tandy and her husband Hume Cronyn, who were married 52 years. When asked the secret to a happy marriage, they replied in unison, “Frequent separations and partial deafness,” then smiled at each other in that all-knowing way. In case you missed it, the “real love” part is in the knowing look. I’ve always considered them the ideal couple. After Jessica passed, Hume compared living without her to being a quadriplegic.

My image of Jessica and Hume can only remain pristine as long as I never look too closely into their lives. I’ve learned enough about them to know they had place in their home called “the sulking room,” where one could retreat when they couldn’t stand another minute in the other’s company. I’m not saying a room like that would get much use in my own home, but I think I’d visit there a time or two.


Mom and Dad–A story with many twists and turns

So, how do we know what a good marriage should look like? My parents’ marriage lasted nearly 30 years, until my father passed away at 64. Those of us nine children who spent any amount of time with them in those final years would have called it an unhappy marriage, judging from the tears, the tiredness and the brokenness we witnessed. However, as I delve into old letters, I’m seeing traces of a different story, which I hope to share with my siblings one day soon. We’ll never know for sure, but, come on…nine kids?


Never met a more gentle soul than my Old Poop of a Grandfather

My maternal grandparents were married almost 50 years. To her dying days, she called him the Old Poop. I never quite knew what to make of that, nor did I know for sure whether they were happy. They spent every minute of their 20-plus retirement years together. If ever a couple needed a sulking room…

Truth is, there is no perfect marriage, only imperfect people trying to live up to the ideals and values they’ve set for themselves and to honor their chosen mate as best they can with the imperfect tools they’ve been given. We can emulate our parents and grandparents, but without knowledge of what they endured off stage, it’s like reading every third page of a novel. Not the best how-to manual.

However, there is a perfect love. We see that in Jesus, who put others before himself and sacrificed for the greater good when the situation called for it. He showed us how to love, and, when we’re not being obstinate, it’s easy to see how loving His way can build up a marriage into the rewarding, blessed union God intended it to be. It’s something to strive for. I confess that I have, I occasionally, I often usually miss the mark, but I see my failures as blessing my husband with an opportunity to wield another useful marriage-building tool: forgiveness.

All kidding aside, I do take great delight in my marriage and my sweet husband, and I see him as a wonderful gift from God that means more to me with each passing year. I look forward to sharing with him the joys and trials that lie ahead, because I cannot imagine going through them with anyone else.

Jerry, you are my love, my rock, my steadfast friend, and my mathematician. And who knows, play your cards right and one day I might tell our grandchildren that you’re also my Old Poop. Here’s to 33 more…and a sulking room.


Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life, and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. –Ecclesiastes 9:9

18 Responses to “To the Moon, Alice! (But Take Me With You)”

  1. Kirsten January 12, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

    You and Jerry are perfect for each other. I’ve never questioned that! Happy anniversary, dear friends. Sending you both love and wishes for many more years of happiness!

    • Portrait Writer January 12, 2017 at 2:35 pm #

      Aw, thank you Kirsten. It’s wonderful to hear from you. 🙂

  2. Doug Fitzsimmons January 12, 2017 at 3:36 pm #

    Happy anniversary to you both. Here’s to another 33.

  3. Ed Speare January 12, 2017 at 4:32 pm #

    Enjoyed this one! I can go you one better on terms of endearment thought. My maternal grandfather used to call my grandmother “The Old Sow”, even in her presence. (Can you guess he raised pigs on the side)? Happy Anniversary, Blessings,

    Ed Speare

  4. Lucia Anderson January 12, 2017 at 5:44 pm #

    I envy you. Andy died 8 months before our 20th anniversary. Have often wondered how it would have turned out if he’d stuck around. Not sure we would have made it to 33, but I’d like to think so.

    • Portrait Writer January 12, 2017 at 9:06 pm #

      aw, I’m sorry Lucia. I wish I could have met him.

  5. Heidi Reichert January 12, 2017 at 7:06 pm #

    I am in tears as I read the last part. Well written and honoring of so many people. Giggled throughout and let every word sink into my heart. This is fantastic!!! Oh how I love your writing!!!

  6. Michele January 12, 2017 at 7:17 pm #

    Happy Anniversary! Great story!

  7. Kae Bellamy January 12, 2017 at 8:33 pm #


  8. Cheryl January 12, 2017 at 9:04 pm #

    You did it again, Alice,errr I mean Rose. The perfect balance of love, humility and humor. I guess it is best we don’t know all the details of other marriages, but knowing who is the author of all that is good in our own.

    P.S. I might be a little envious that Jerry cooks.
    I am thrilled that Ted eats what I cook with seldom a complaint.

    • Portrait Writer January 12, 2017 at 9:17 pm #

      Thank you Cheryl. Something tells me your cooking is fantastic. 😉

  9. Phanalphie Rhue Still January 13, 2017 at 2:29 pm #

    Happy New Year my Friend! Thank you for the lovely holiday card and thank you for this wonderful, as usual, post. Today is my birthday. This post was a wonderful gift; it is a beautiful highlight to my day. Your writing still inspires me. You can capture and present things in such an engaging way. I remain blessed to call you “long distance” friend. 🙂

    Love and All the best! Phanalphie Phanalphie

    • Portrait Writer January 14, 2017 at 12:45 am #

      Oh, happy birthday, Phanalphie! Somewhere in the dark reaches of my mind I remember you telling me we shared the same celebration date. It’s good to know there’s someone else out there who isn’t superstitious about Friday the 13th! :\

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