OUR 60TH ANNIVERSARY: THE ARC OF OUR LIVES
IN THE BEGINNING
At Cynthia Richmond’s sweet sixteen party, I was wearing a form-fitting aqua top and a cinched-waist taffeta skirt. Barry was wearing what must have been the teenage boys’ uniform of the day, but what stood out was his Elvis pompadour. It was not love at first sight, but it was attraction
We never would have met if Barry’s family hadn’t moved to Newton as he entered his junior year in high school. He says he spotted me in the tunnels we walked through to get from one building to another at Newton High. After Cynthia’s party, we dated, we broke up, and we dated some more. We went to the Senior Prom with different partners. We got together again, and when Barry was attending Northeastern in the 5 year work/study program, we became engaged. I was 19, and he was 20. We decided to get married when he finished his 4th year. His parents, though, had other plans! As a result, we waited another year. I graduated from the Chandler School for Women as a secretary, and we were married on June 23rd 1957 after he graduated.
Barry decided to go on to graduate school and enrolled in the MBA program at Cornell. During those two years, my secretarial skills came in handy–I worked at the Chevrolet dealership in Ithaca. Dewey, the handyman at the dealership, often had to pick me up at graduate student housing on the hill due to the “mountains” of snow that fell during the winter months. Those were challenging but good times. We were a young couple among other young couples who had little money but lots of energy and enthusiasm.
After graduating from Cornell, Barry fulfilled his 6-month obligation to the National Guard at Fort Sam Houston in Texas where he trained as a medic and came out thinking he could cure anything from a scratch to the bubonic plague! I stayed home, living with my Mother and working, except when he came home on leave when we stayed with his parents. Not ideal, but it worked.
After completing his military obligation, we moved to Shaker Heights, a tony suburb of Cleveland, Ohio where Barry began his professional career working for U.S. Steel. We rented a not-so-tony apartment in a two-family house owned by Mrs. Parisi. We were fortunate that she took us under her wing, and she was thrilled when I became pregnant with our first child, Jonathan.
We decided to settle down and buy a bungalow in Northfield, Ohio. The deal was that we had to finish the house; we—or, I should say, mostly Barry–painted it inside and out, laid floors, and planted the lawn. It was a gray house with black shutters and a yellow door. I still love that color combination! The neighborhood was just right for a young couple.
After moving back to Massachusetts to be closer to family, we rented for a while before buying a house in Waban. We had 2 more kids, Larry and Marc; moved to Wayland; had 2 more kids, Ted and Betsy; moved to Sudbury and invited my ailing Mother to live with us in what I thought was going to be our spare guest room. She lived with us for 7 years, eventually moving to a nursing home.
Along the way, we bought a 2nd home overlooking the ocean in Manomet, South Plymouth. Barry bought a sundial that he mounted on the deck railing. It was inscribed with the saying, “Grow Old Along With Me The Best Is Yet To Be.” As the children grew and were no longer able to spend much time there, we sold the house and bought another, all-season home, in the Ellisville section of South Plymouth with the idea that, possibly, we’d retire there. The sundial travelled with us.
Meanwhile, the children grew to adulthood and, over time, along with their spouses, gave us 7 glorious grandchildren.
So, here we are in our large home in Sudbury, having sold the Ellisville home. We decided that being closer to family trumped moving to the South Shore. The sundial is now mounted on a wall that borders our driveway.
Barry, the love of my life, and I are in good health. We are active and engaged in numerous activities. We are having the off and on continuous discussion with ourselves, family, and friends about what our next steps should be when it comes to living situations and care as we age. We made a deposit on a continuous care community in nearby Concord.
When I am not looking in the mirror, sometimes I forget my age, 81. There are other signs—like not running anymore. I walk. I work out regularly but not as obsessively. Occasionally, it takes me a while longer to remember a name or recall a word. On the other hand, my spiritual dimension has taken a front seat, deeply and joyously.
So, I’ve been thinking about the sundial Barry bought years ago, the one with the saying on it that sustained me for quite some time. GROW OLD ALONG WITH ME–THE BEST IS YET TO BE, it says.
And now, I’m wondering. Is the best still yet to be? Maybe we should think about another line–
THE BEST OF TIMES IS NOW–IT’S ALL WE HAVE!
Eleanor and Liz provide monthly items focused on topics of interest shared by all of us–the transitions, issues, celebrations, and more–about this important stage of our lives.