St. Ambrose Church / Rochester, NY / July 15, 1972
We were so young! I wasn’t yet 21, he was just 24, and there we were, walking down an aisle to a happy-ever-after life. We were impossibly young; what did we know? We didn’t know what we didn’t know, that’s what I say now.
My parents, Sam & Sandy, on the left; his parents, Betty and Phil on the right.
Our parents were thrilled; we were marrying within our culture. And really, for that reason alone, we seemed meant-to-be. When we split after eight years, we had some confused parents on our hands. Michael’s father had passed just two years after the wedding. But I know the three remaining parents were left reeling by our divorce. My mother never got over it. Never. She couldn’t understand it and she couldn’t accept it. She wanted to know Why? I had no explanation that suited her.
The truth is, we were impossibly young and unprepared.
My only excuse for this photo is that there was an open bar at our reception.
We were just out of the 60s, a time of turmoil and upheaval. And peace, as you can see. I’d been pretty sheltered as a kid and was completely unprepared to make important decisions. Who is, at 20 years of age?
After our divorce, we went off and had lives completely different from the one we envisioned for ourselves when we married. Actually, we never really had a vision for our life together–it just unfolded on its own, as often happened with young people of the day. Today, kids are planning decades ahead but back then? We just went along when opportunity presented itself. Fortunately, it presented itself often for us both, during our entire lives.
When people would ask me about my first marriage, I’d always say “That’s the one that should have worked.” I can see our connection, above, and the love. It should have worked. But shit happened.
It’s not that I’m unhappy at how the 27 years we were apart unfolded–to the contrary. I had several different lives within my life, lots of fun and cool experiences. And husbands. I had a bad marrying habit. (After all, I had to do something while I waited for him to come back.)But it was all good in the end, no harm, no foul. And he had his life, too. All good.
So when he turned up 27 years later and said he wanted us to remarry, I was thrown for a loop. It was difficult to believe, because we hadn’t even seen each other in all that time. And so much water under the bridge, too. I believed I would eventually have my happy-ever-after but had never entertained the idea that it would be with my first husband. In fact, I was preparing to marry someone else.
Michael and I had many, many long phone conversations over months before we even saw one another again. We hashed over the last 40 years of both of our lives. After the first month, I knew that regardless of what happened, I needed to break my engagement. And did. We continued to talk for yet another month.
And then, he got off the plane and we walked out of the airport and to the first dinner we’d had together in 27 years, the first time we’d seen one another in all that time. By the end of that dinner it really was like we never said goodbye. It turns out, my happy-ever-after was always right in front of me. But now, I was smart enough to appreciate it.
Michael is…he’s everything, really. He’s loving, he’s sweet, he’s super-smart. He loves my dog and my nephews. My friends adore him. He’s a great companion. He loves to travel as much as I do. He’s well-read and charming. He’s still pretty hot, too. For those of you who don’t know him, I’ll let my late friend, Marilyn tell a story she used to enjoy telling:
Carol and Michael were in California to find a house, so I invited them to dinner. After I did, I was a little sorry. “He’s probably some boring lawyer,” I thought, “I’ll have to sit through an entire evening…” The doorbell rang, I opened the door, he put out his arms and hugged me, and that was it. I loved him immediately and knew he was the one for her.”
That was how it happened for me, too. He got off the plane and that was the end of any questions I might have had. He was the one and this was my happy-ever-after. And in the seven years since we reunited, I’ve only gotten more sure. He was my first and is my last husband. How cool is that?
My valentine to Michael is personal. But I do have something for him here: Thanks, Crystal Gayle, for this public valentine, which I send with love to my wonderful first and last husband: