FOR US, A MIRACLE—SIXTY-SIX YEARS OF MARRIAGE
Today, January 3rd, is think-back day.
When I first met him, Rob didn’t look like a husband—as he cut in on me at a Stanford Jolly-up, he was just a kid with very white teeth and a brilliant smile. Plus, oh yes, an insistent personality, which I could feel later, back in my dorm. But he was too short, only six-one, and I was looking for six-three or better.
(It turns out Rob was looking for someone with good legs. It also turns out he never considered himself a good candidate for marriage.)
Next day he took me on a prevaricator’s “date.” “How would you like to go on a beach party?” he asked, and imagining the party might include someone taller and less intrusive, I said Yes. To my astonishment, the beach party consisted of Rob and me—plus Hudson Bowlby, a stodgy acquaintance with a Model A. For all the words uttered by Bowlby as he drove us to the beach, Rob had found us a stiff English butler.
Rob’s summer of wooing never turned conventional. Instead of using the dorm’s buzzer, he summoned me by whistling outside my window—as though calling his dog. We rode to the movies on bicycles. We seldom studied; instead we went to the library and passed notes back and forth. That summer was hell on our grades, but Rob won me over—not with his craziness, not with his smile, but mostly with his brains. On one thing we both agreed: he was the smartest man I was apt to meet.
Some things have never changed; Rob is still the brainiest person I know. He missed qualifying for Jeopardy by one point, and on any given night he’s apt to answer more questions than the contestants. “How do you know that?” I ask, and his answer is always, “I don’t know how I know. I must have read it someplace.”
Today he also charms me with laughter; together we giggle over life’s small incongruities and ridiculous human behavior—though I need to go elsewhere for laughter when I’ve done something stupid.
As our friends know, our marriage has survived raising six kids, five boys and a girl, plus the overwhelming sadness of losing two sons to hang gliding accidents. Somehow we overcame the BIG things—while at times nearly perishing on the shoals of lesser events.
But now, in the trailing-off years, we rejoice that we’ve both had productive careers—lawyer and writer—but even more that the two of us have metamorphosed into thirty-nine people—with ten grandkids and twelve great-grandchildren, all of whom sooner or later become good friends.
Lately, Rob and I have found it often takes two of us to complete a sentence, and we’re best served with a team approach to driving a car. But that isn’t all. Last night, topping off the years, he gave our marriage the ultimate compliment: “By now, Babe, we’re all intertwined, our branches intermixed. We’ve grown together like a couple of tree trunks.”