By: Laura Christie
If the title of this blog was accurate to the statement I remember from the past, it would state “Laura, life is not a Harlequin Romance”. This was part of sage advice offered by my father when I was in my early twenties. I’m sure he chose this segue into the conversation about marriage because the females in the Froats family were known to read a ton of these slim novels. It just so happened that a friend of my dad’s, worked for the publishing company. We were given several boxes.
The important part of our conversation, after the Harlequin lead in, was my father telling me that marriage required hard-work from both partners. There was a lot of give and take, concessions and compromise, love and laughter, surviving challenging times together and often putting the other person’s needs above your own.
This got me thinking about the client couples we deliver to on the daily meal program. Currently there are sixteen couples on service. Among them are six couples in their nineties and seven couples in their late eighties. That represents long married lives together. We have witnessed first hand their commitment to one another, as they have aged side by side. They truly exemplify the phrase, “in sickness and in health”, as spouses take on the additional role of primary caregiver.
Our view of long relationships also includes those of many volunteers. They have celebrated milestone anniversaries and invited us to their parties! Here we get the opportunity to see volunteers in a different light. Marvel at their photos through the years and see that we are not the only ones who admire and respect them.
One of my favorite anniversaries involved a former volunteer, Dorothy. She retired from Meals on Wheels after forty years of service. Dorothy had a wonderful relationship with her husband Jock. We got to know him quite well over the years. He was a scholar and a gentleman, and they doted on each other. One day he asked me, “Do you know what we’re celebrating today?” I shook my head ‘no’ and he gave me a coy smile. “Why, It’s the anniversary of the day I asked Dorothy’s father if I could court her.” And Dorothy, overhearing, shushed him even as she giggled behind her hand.
My mom and dad certainly seemed well matched and happy. In fact, they were wonderful role models. They faced lots of hard-times, hence his use of the expression, “we didn’t have two pennies to rub together”. But he had a career, they owned a home, had a family, and enjoyed a great retirement. From beginning to end their life seemed the stuff of romance novels to me.
It’s true, that as I waded through those first two boxes of Harlequin romances, I had stars in my eyes. But years later, his pre-marriage talk was spot on and indeed they have been words to live by.