By Marion Algier – Ask Marion
Valentine’s Day moves our focus even more onto the subject of love than usual. And this year’s long Valentine’s weekend coupled with President’s Day created some great options for those looking to celebrate and do something other than dinner and a movie.
On February 13th, 2015, the Greek Cultural Ministry released this photo: ‘Death did not part them’ just in time for Valentine’s Day, of a discovery they made in 2013. Archaeologists in southern Greece discovered the grave of a man and woman buried as they died some 5,800 years ago… still tightly embracing.
Anastassia Papathanassiou, a senior member of the excavation team said the discovery was made in 2013 but publicized this week after DNA testing determined each skeleton’s sex. It is the oldest of its kind in Greece and she says the couple most likely died holding each other.
Papathanassiou told The Associated Press that the remains of the couple, estimated to be in their 20s, were found near the Alepotrypa Cave, an important prehistoric site.
It is unclear how they died but more may be still be discovered after additional DNA tests. But for the romantics out there, the thoughts of true love for eternity dance in their heads.
AP Photo/Greek Culture Ministry In this undated handout photo released by the Greek Culture Ministry on Friday, Feb. 13, 2015 shows the remains of a man and woman in their early twenties, buried as they died nearly 6,000 years…
Love… so much has been written about it, whole books, sonnets, songs and poems and most people seem to be in constant search of true love or at least keep trying to define and improve on what they have found. It is our favorite subject yet remains elusive for so many of us.
Love is both simple and complicated. And like life itself, it is a unique journey for each of us. Love comes in many forms… the love of a child, the love for parents and family, the love for a friend or special person in our lives, the love of a pet, the love for God, the love of life itself, the love of things and the love for activities and pursuits… a life passion, but the love that seems to consume and elude many of us is the love of and from that special life partner that still lights up a room for you after 50-years while being a steady constant that you can count on.
Many people have a permanent durable relationship, a relatively good or at least functional marriage. Others have an exciting ongoing romantic liaison… or a string of them. Far too many just settle. In some countries and cultures, people still spend their lives in arranged marriages or far worse. I have met many people who have been married for 60 plus years who never caught the brass ring; they settled for stability, companionship or one of a whole long list of reasons and often lead separate lives in many ways or boring lives together but are celebrated for hanging in. And for some these options appear to be enough, at least on the surface.
Settling is the reason that many have roving eyes, watch soap operas and read stacks of trashy romance novels or girly magazines and beyond. And others fill their lives with endless hobbies or virtually live at work. It allows people to continue to dream and fill the gaps in their lives.
If you are lucky enough to find the love of your life, your soulmate, you are among a select group. Yet it does not mean that your life will be simple or that the relationship will always be easy.
Every once in a while you hear about couples for whom their relationship was love at first sight for both of them or they were childhood sweethearts. They often married quickly, or young, and after 60+ years they are still in love as well as each other’s best friends. That is extremely rare. For most, even if they find their perfect match, life is not that simple. And often it is not love at first sight for both of them or their journey isn’t easy because there are outside factors, including bad timing like already being married.
I am one of those people who didn’t get it right until the third time around… The first time I married far too young, partly because although there was a sexual revolution going on my upbringing kept me from participating. The second time around it was a challenge that got me down the aisle after I felt the love of my life was off the market.
I found the love of my life, Tim, in my early 20’s. He had been my friend, and only a friend, in high school where three separate junior high schools funneled into one senior high. He was the boyfriend of my new best high school friend, DiAne, and they went on to be our ‘best senior couple’. He was also our Senior Class Boy’s VP and I was Class President and the three of us were involved in most of the same school activities. Then the three of us went on to separate colleges, but Tim and DiAne got engaged with a wedding planned after they both graduated. For many of us, they were that perfect lucky couple who had found true love, their soulmates, at a young age.
Tim was in architecture school at USC and DiAne had graduated and was planning their wedding with me as one of their bridesmaids. They had both been in my first wedding to a Navy corpsman during the Viet Nam era; a marriage that was already teetering. Tim had walked my mother down the aisle and seated her; a photo I cherish since she didn’t live to see me marry him. Then when Tim called DiAne for her birthday, her surprised father told him that DiAne was in Vegas getting married. Guess she forgot to tell him?!? She married her boss from her part-time college job. They have been happily married ever since and we are all now friends. But the shock, even though Tim realized they had grown apart during college, affected him for a long time. It also reinforced the best senior couple curse at our high school. None had made it down the aisle for a decade but the number two couples had virtually all married and remained married.
In 1975, the evening after my best childhood friend Nancy’s wedding to her high school sweetheart, after some twists and turns through college, I received a call from my first husband, Gary, who had taken my sister and brother to the bowling alley before heading back to base, after attending the wedding. I was staying at my parent’s for the weekend and had just returned from helping Nancy change and pack up to leave for her honeymoon. Gary called asking, “Guess who is here at the bowling alley?” “Just tell me who it is”, I snapped back, “I’m tired and in no mood for games!” I had planned to take a hot shower and veg for the evening after a couple fun but long days. Gary finally said, “It is Tim with some other friends from your high school”. Almost instantaneously I was no longer tired and found myself changing clothes and heading to the bowling alley. Gary and my siblings left soon after I arrived and so did the guys Tim was with. They were friends from his neighborhood that I didn’t know that well, so after some catching up they headed out. Tim and I stayed until the bowling alley coffee shop closed and then moved our conversation that lasted into the wee hours to his place in LA.
Gary was soon leaving for Okinawa with the plan for us to date other people while he was gone and file for divorce if our feelings for each other didn’t change in the year he was gone. During that time we lost both our fathers from Cancer. Tim was living in L.A. and had just gone to work for a large engineering, construction and architectural firm and I was living in Orange County working for the phone company. Tim and I would see each other occasionally when one or the other was in the area and with each meeting I was falling in love. But Tim was in an odd place in his life. There was a recession and his expensive education hadn’t brought him the employment he expected, plus he still wasn’t completely over the break-up with DiAne; both of which affected his self-confidence. And then there was part of him that was making up for all the time in junior high, high school and college that he was tied down to one girl.
Then in what seemed virtually overnight, my father became ill with Cancer and I transferred back home to the San Fernando Valley to help my mother just as Tim’s company bought property in Orange County and moved their whole operation to Irvine after which he moved to San Clemente. We had now changed places, swapping counties of residence, and were even further apart and between training for a new job and ultimately giving my father his morphine injections every four hours, my time was much more restricted.
We continued dating, but not exclusively, and the time between dates kept increasing. The Christmas after my father had passed away I happened to be home from work with the flu when the doorbell rang. It was the florist holding a beautiful arrangement with a full size card attached. The card read:
I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas and I want to apologize for not being around much this past year. I hope all is going well with your new job. And, I also wanted to tell you that Debby is getting an engagement ring for Christmas.
I felt like someone had stabbed me in the heart. I had walked to the middle of the livingroom as I was reading the card and without a conscious thought, I took the flower arrangement in my hand and threw it across the room. It hit the fireplace and took a huge chunk out of one of the bricks and then I sunk to the ground sobbing. My mother found me sitting in that spot when she got home. The love of my life had broken my heart and didn’t have a clue.
I seriously entertained driving down to his house and asking why. And then I decided I would go to the wedding, to which I received an invitation, and planned to standup and say my piece when the minister asked if anyone had any objections or reasons why these two people should not be wed… a la Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. But much to my regret in years following, by the time the wedding came around, I had decided I was better than that and went to Europe instead, where I had an affair for the books. Not having confronted Tim at that time is one of the five major regrets of my life that haunt me. I certainly had the guts to standup at the wedding or confront him beforehand, so I have to believe that the reason I didn’t was God laying the groundwork for my daughter from my second marriage, who I wouldn’t have had without that marriage.
Deep down I think I really believed that one of Tim’s friends or someone from his family would have talked Tim out of marrying this gal that was so wrong for him… but they didn’t and he didn’t snap out of it on his own. When I questioned him years later as to why he chose to marry her, he said that he was at an all-time low at that time in his life and he somehow felt that he could save her; I guess making him feel better about himself. And Tim said that at the time it never occurred to him that I would even consider marrying him. The next time I saw Tim was at our class reunion before I had married Jim, my second husband, and before either of us had children.
Jim was a blind date when the last thing I needed was a blind date. But a matchmaking friend of mine persistently insisted and I finally said, “Fine, give him my phone number and if he reaches me, we’ll go from there”. I was never home and it was before the days of cell phones, so I figured that the chance of him catching me was next to nothing. But he reached me the week before Christmas when I was home wrapping Christmas presents. One night after we had gone out to dinner with four couples, Jim made the cavalier statement on the way home that he didn’t buy roses, he didn’t buy diamonds and he was never getting married again. Well that was all I had to hear and the challenge was on. I got roses for every major holiday and more than one minor occasion throughout our relationship and marriage. He did buy me a diamond engagement ring and several others and we did get married. We had great talks and great fights and were philosophically a match. And without that marriage I would never have had my daughter and the joy she brought into my life.
Neither of my first two marriages, however, had the magic that you find with someone that is your soulmate. Both were marriages that could have endured if I was willing to settle but the spark and contentment that comes from marrying the love of your life was missing and I knew that because I had found him and lost him, but knew the difference.
A couple months after our 20th high school reunion, I received a phone call. It was Tim asking if we could get together so he could talk to me about a business opportunity he had come across. I had my own business at the time, a house I loved, a young daughter and two young nieces I adored plus two older stepkids I loved and Jim and I had a better than average life. But I was always looking for an opportunity or new challenge and it was an opportunity to catch up since as class president reunions are always working events for me, so I said yes. Jim decided he really didn’t want to go with me, so I met Tim after work near the meeting venue we were going to. I got involved which put Tim and I as well as our spouses in closer and more frequent contact.
Over the next few years, both Tim and I filed for divorce without either of us knowing the other had done the same until after we had filed. My divorce was final first even though Tim had filed before we did. So knowing I’d be alone for my 40th birthday, Tim asked me to dinner. We met at the Queen Mary which was about halfway between where we lived.
We talked about old times and where we were going now over dinner. After our dinner we took a stroll on the deck and then went up to Sir Winston’s for a glass of wine when Tim said, “Not marrying you 15 years ago was the biggest mistake of my life, so I am asking you to marry me now… as soon as my divorce is final”. I never flinched and never had to give it a thought. I said “Yes… Of course I will!” And we married almost a year later to the day, one week after Tim’s divorce was final. Our kids were in the wedding and my ex-husband, Jim, gave me away. It was part of my attempt to make things as positive as possible for the kids.
It was my dream come true and after twenty-one years the room still lights up for me when Tim enters it. But as much as our time together has flown by and with all we have done in twenty one years it hasn’t been without strife or pain. We have been tested over and over.
Tim was great with my family and at supporting my dreams and endeavors involving my daughter, nieces and nephew. I supported his entrepreneurial attempts, watched many more sports than I would like to remember and tried my best to be there for his son. We were very different in many ways and yet very much the same in others. We have history together and have known each other since we were 14-years-old. We truly complement each other. Yet, Tim’s family, his ex-wife and my ex-husband’s family destroyed a lot of our dreams and were constant irritations. The constant money drain and lack of cooperation from Tim’s ex-wife was one for the books. Tim’s disconnected family stabbed him in the back without having a clue. And our daughter’s paternal family were like vultures lurking. the greatest lost dream that resulted from that was our decision not to have a child together.
But we never let the bs get between us. We focused on our kids rather than the relatives as much as we could and we were hands on in their lives and tried to make every day an adventure. Our marriage was the shock news for our 30th high school reunion.
Then came the investment of what was left of our savings and pensions after a few other failed business attempts and investments in our children’s educations and futures. We packed ourselves up and moved from California to Wyoming and then to Texas in a less than a year. And after a year in Texas, in a span of two months, we went from being millionaires on paper to living in our car for several weeks with our four furkids. We ultimately came back home to California to both get back on our feet and help Tim’s parents. Tim’s father was suffering with Alzheimer’s and heart disease and his mother had onset dementia and rheumatoid arthritis and they had bankrupted themselves through one of the Jamaican AARP scams.
Then having been diagnosed with Cancer in October 2014 following the loss of our business in which we invested the last of our retirement funds and having fought a string of challenges over the previous 10-years, life suddenly changed for me forever. But it showed me that when life is at its worst it can also bring forth the best when you have the right person at your side. Having felt cheated out of fifteen to twenty years at the front end, my love for Tim and the need to have another twenty, thirty or more years together was one of my great motivators for beating the disease.
I recently ran into an 84-year-old woman who had just gotten remarried for the third time to her soulmate after having been widowed twice before… so it is never too late, but taking the time to find Mr. or Mrs. Right the first time around can make life a whole lot sweeter. And yes, I wish I had done a lot of things differently to get to this point, to this relationship, in my life sooner!
Love is what makes the world go round. Many will tell you that never going to bed mad; holding hands or cuddling as you fall sleep or having some special words, signals or sayings between the two of you that only you understand are keys. Tim’s uncle always says, when he gets mad at his wife, “I love you anyway”. But what I think is the key is not to settle. Find your soulmate… the man or woman of your dreams, and there could be more than one or at least a close second for some. And once you find them, never consider quitting or getting a divorce as an option no matter how tough times get… which isn’t hard if you are with the right partner. Communicate and do little things to keep your relationship fresh. If we all put even half the energy into our marriages that most people put into their jobs and careers… there would be no divorces. And savor every moment of the journey, the good and the bad! That is also good advice for parents as well… savor every moment of the experience. It will pass all too quickly and you will later wish you had.
Live is a journey and unique to each of us… The better our choices, the better our lives!!