I was visiting with a friend at lunch today and asked how his son and newly acquired daughter-in-law were doing. He replied, “They are doing great. They’ve gotten moved into their apartment.” He laughed and said, “They are finding it a little cramped for space, but they are enjoying the experience.” He also added, “Since they are living within their budget, it may be a while before they get a larger place. He said, “I told my son and daughter-in-law: “Fifteen years from now you’ll look back on this time in your lives and treasure the memories.”
I thought to myself, “Isn’t that the way every one starts out?” In reality, the space issue is deceiving for young married couples. When you’ve been used to living in a college dorm, even the smallest of apartments can look like “the Biltmore” in comparison. Isn’t it true that moving from a college dorm setting into a “place of your own” can feel like you’ve been propelled into the mainstream of adulthood? It is kind of a nice feeling!
I actually picked out our first apartment sight unseen by the General. The apartment became available in April or May of 1968 and we were getting married in June. I described it to her over the telephone and she said it sounded great. She trusted my judgment. Mostly without reservation, she still does.
That seems like a lifetime ago. If memory serves me correctly, the “stately-old-house” had been converted into two apartments. Ours was the apartment that probably originally had been the home’s living area, dining room and large kitchen. When the house was sectioned into apartments, a bathroom was added and the dining room was converted into a bedroom.
The house was located on Hickory Street in Abilene. It was several blocks south of Hendrick Hospital where I worked and Hardin-Simmons University where I went to school. I won’t say it was easy walking distance, but it was manageable if need be.
Just thinking of our first home seems so long ago and so far away. My friend told his son, “Fifteen years from now you’ll look back on this time in your lives and treasure the memories.”
I nodded in agreement. I knew exactly what he meant. However, I wondered what his son and daughter-in-law thought of his philosophical observation. “Fifteen years from now you’ll look back on this time in your lives and treasure the memories.” What does that really mean? Is it closely akin to: “Tough times don’t last forever?”
I think my friend’s observation is accurate. The “young and in love conquers all” syndrome makes a nice reflection in looking back over one’s life. In reality, love and marriage really has more to do with commitment, shared goals, and a resolve to orchestrate a forever family. It isn’t dependent on the size of one’s home, their 401K or their income level.
“Fifteen years from now you’ll look back”. Is that really true? Perhaps it is a sign of good emotional and spiritual health if you do, but I didn’t. Perhaps I should have looked back, but I failed to do so. I was so busy embracing the future, that I failed to honor, revere and learn from the past.
When the General and I had been married for fifteen years, I wasn’t looking back. I was still in the midst of a marathon attempting to put all of my eggs into one basket. I was busy negotiating the challenges and obstacles that potentially interfere with or promote quality to life.
How do you find balance? I was thirty-six years old. I had been married for fifteen years. I had a twelve-year-old son, a two-year-old daughter, a job that could easily consume fifty to sixty hours a week and a host of responsibilities associated with being a good neighbor in the community we called home. My life was abundantly full. I was passionate about life. I felt capable, responsible, needed and valued, but I didn’t purposefully carve out the time to look back.
“Fifteen years from now you’ll look back on your lives and treasure the memories.” I hope my friend’s son does, but I didn’t.
- · I didn’t provide myself the luxury of remembering what it was like to make a complete meal out of fried okra and fried squash.
- · I had forgotten the elation of discovering enough discarded coke bottles to redeem that I had the money to fill my car’s tank with gas (It was only $.18 a gallon).
- · I didn’t remember shopping garage sales, buying used furniture, refinishing it and placing it in our home.
- · I didn’t remember the intensity of some of the arguments and the joys of working out our differences.
- · I didn’t remember the simplicity of having friends over and being content to make a meal out of a casserole.
- · I had forgotten the ability to live for the moment, drop whatever we were doing, drive three hours to visit our families and then drive back home again.
- · I had forgotten the friends who were instrumentally important in our lives, but who then evaporated when work transfers and career paths sent us different directions.
Aren’t there times we could all benefit from remembering the past, searching for life lessons in the confines of our memory and moving forward with a sense of gratitude?
I sometimes jokingly tell people that if the General had killed me when she first thought about it, she’d be out of prison by now. I know that has to be a bitter pill to swallow, but I’m glad she didn’t. I’d prefer to spend more time together sitting on the back porch and reflecting on all we’ve been given. Life is good!
All My Best!