I can’t believe it’s been 45 years. Or that we are still each other’s best friends. We don’t argue. We make decisions by consensus. And retirement was worth waiting for. Our whole life together we always wanted a ‘job’ where we could work together and we had to retire to find one — but we’re happy and having a ball here on the Forest (don’t ask me why but all the Forest Service people insist on saying it that way — you aren’t IN the forest, you’re ON the forest) .
I asked Peg to marry me before we ever went on a date. I’d met her a couple times at church conferences during the summer of ’68. But at a conference in Jackson MI we spent a few hours together. I had worked all night the two nights before so that I could get away from the print shop where I was working and I was so tired I fell asleep during one of the sessions and made a racket when I woke up — startling the congregation. Peg got up during a sharing session and said exactly the three things that several years before I had told God I needed in a wife (needless to say, THAT was after a very unsatisfactory relationship ended and I was feeling really depressed). To this day I am amazed at how exactly she came out and said just what I needed to hear.
We both went home. I did a lot of thinking, and the following week — probably Tuesday evening — I wrote a letter in which I proposed to her by mail. I was so indirect that Peg had to take the letter over to her girlfriend’s house to ask for an ‘interpretation.’ But when she answered back she was ever so coy and said ‘yes’ in the exact same phrasing I had used — so if she misunderstood my intent she wouldn’t feel embarrassed.
We were married about 3 1/2 months later and that’s all there was to that. We were so poor when we got married that we went to the mall during the summer to get some relief from the heat of Chicago summers. We rented the (literally) cheapest apartment we could find — $68.00 / month for a tiny one bedroom backyard cottage on 38th place and Francisco on the near South Side. Our friends called it our ‘Closet.’ The bedroom was smaller than our standard double bed so we put our bed in the ‘living room.’ But it was heaven to us. And for two years I did my alternate service to Uncle Sam at a major Chicago hospital starting out at $1.98 per hour.
We’ve come a long way from there in 45 years. Two different apartments in Chicago, a few months in Toledo (Peg’s home town), 2 years in Swanton OH, two years in Geneva Il, then up to Milwaukee for about 39 years and now two years of retirement.
She’s the best thing ever to happen to me, and I’ve been told by many, that if I can’t live with her I can’t live with anyone. Not once in 45 years has she failed to embrace my crazy ideas, and I think not once in 45 years have I failed to embrace hers. I have no idea how much time we have left — but I’ll be quite happy to share the next 45 or 90 years with her or maybe 180 years. (Gotta Think Positive, right?)
Tonight we’re going out for an anniversary dinner — just by ourselves. We’ll lift a glass of wine and share a few memories.
What can be better?
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.