Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The burden light

Look what our daughter Mo made for us! On her iPad™®! Captures us and our merry misadventures in
startling precision — including our hands-free driving style and chilling habit of not watching the road.
Good thing Pearly's along for the ride: She's the only one paying attention. The coast must be clear.
Nothing matches the feeling of May 11, 1985, say about 12:22 p.m., for lightness of being. For utter freedom yet utter bond, to someone's hand, Nancy's hand, 29 years ago last weekend.

Despite all the responsibility and weight and angst usually accorded to marriage, we lifted off the face of the earth that day in delight, and have roamed ever since.

Out of St. Joseph's Church in Auburn we stepped, into the sunny warm new afternoon, onto a terraced lawn, bordered with roses, as I remember. Out of the circle of our collective lives we stepped, breaking its hold, creating a new and different connection to it.

Now it begins, I recall thinking. Now we start. Where? Don't really know. Using what for money? We'll figure that out. I have a job (which helped our parents' blessings, I suppose). You'll get a job. We'll start there.

We'd only just begun.

Remember that Paul Williams/Roger Nichols song, that so, so — so! — corny song The Carpenters made famous? It's so, so true. Its sentiments fused with me since third grade, when I saw The Crocker Bank commercial that first used the song.

Which, now that I write it, seems an unlikely thing for a man to say of his third-grade self.

The full Carpenters' version carries the line toward the end, when the music abates a bit: "And when the evening comes, we smile. So much of life ahead …"

Though the song was never a conscious part of our day — never used at the wedding Mass for example, or played at the reception in Nancy's family backyard — its words prophesied. We smiled through the day, through the golden soft light of evening, in the little Gold Rush town and its towering teetering twisty concrete sidewalks, where we honeymooned.

Without a clue what's next, we went ahead through the week, through the year, through our lives, together.

Were someone to ask the secret of our longevity, I'd treasure the compliment but then disclose I haven't the foggiest. It's always helped from the start, I think, that we are best friends and take it pretty easy on each other, neither inclined to make demands of the other, but to trust, which we've found as easy to do as breathing.

We prefer experiences to things on these occasions — like our weekend trip to Benicia, brief travelogue to come — and we give each other our space and room, as we always have, as far back as our days in college when we made our separate ways through social gatherings, and reconnected at points in between and at our parting.

Those who know us well would agree Nancy carries more than her share of our getting through the day, and I run to keep up, doing what I can in dim compensation.

With some shame and a weird measure of pride for my wife last week, I saw with new eyes the gift of a small decorative plate, hanging near the fridge. Written:
When two fond hearts
as one unite
the yoke is easy
the burden light
We've changed in ways unexpected but which really shouldn't surprise us, and we have adapted with the changes.

And we've remained the same.

Inscribed in my wedding ring is "Love in all ways," and in Nancy's, "Always in love," a phrase given us in college by a couple who counseled us.

I know that from memory because the ring wouldn't come off if I tried, my knuckles thickened and a bit sore from the onset of arthritis and the reaffirmation of passing years. We change and we stay the same.

A kiss for luck, and we're on our way.


  1. Happy anniversary Shawn and Nancy. Such a lovely love story...

  2. Lovely, Shawn. Heartfelt and thoughtful. Engaged couples should read this before their wedding. You've put into words what it takes to celebrate long wedded bliss. I recognize myself and Mark in your writing. Last February, we celebrated our 30th.

    1. thanks, ruth, nice of you to say. congratulations!