Val and I celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary tomorrow, Monday 15th August. Looking back over the 25 years it really does not seem that long, but the slow tick of the metronomes that measure our lives gives a lie to the feeling that it was all “just yesterday”. The mortgage ending, Niall reaching his twenty first birthday, the arrival of grey then white hair and the seemingly unavoidable extra few holes in the belt all bear witness to actual passage of time.
Back in 1986 did I actually understand the “To have and to hold from this day forth” promise I made? Yes I think I did but the actuality of that promise only starts to make sense now. Val and I have been painting the canvas of our life together. Occasionally the colours of our picture have been dark and unhappy but for most of the time they have been vibrant and full of life and joy … and around 10,000 pairs of my socks needing laundering.
I suppose some just starting on a life together might ask of Val and I what the secret of getting to 25 years together is. Since we have been there, got the tee-shirt and used the free USB memory stick of experience – my answer – I have absolutely no idea, it kinda just happened that way. There was certainly no grand plan on my part that life would work out the way it did and for Val the task of changing me into something that passes for normal was a task of herculean scope!
Looking back I think that after the first bright fire of raw passion through which faults are hard to see wanes a time does come when we recognise the other’s imperfections for what they are and there is an inevitable but brief shortfall in happiness. Once this is accepted and mutual needs and weaknesses accommodated then this the time when something extraordinary happens. Regardless of the lines that show all too visibly on the brow, regardless of the annoying habits and all too human foibles we still fall in love anew every new day in an rebirth of our bond. This is the kind of love which burns slowly, it is to do with companionship, with mutuality and friendship. It is the realisation that I do want to grow old with no-one else but Val and that she makes growing older more bearable .. and this is the true meaning of the “to have and to hold” promise made all those years ago.
I wish I had a poem of my own, but I don’t, well not one that sings quite as well as TS Eliot does and I am sure he will not mind me using it for Val …
To whom I owe the leaping delight
That quickens my senses in our waking-time
and the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleeping-time,
The breathing in unison
Of lovers whose bodies smell of each other
Who think the same thoughts without the need of speech
and babble the same speech without the need of meaning.
No peevish winter wind shall chill
No sullen tropic sun shall wither
The roses in the rose-garden which is ours and ours only
But this dedication is for others to read
These are private words addressed to you in in public.
I love you dote, always have and always will .. oh and PLEASE keep washing my socks!