My father was married to his second wife for fifty-four years. In all those years they spent less than a hand full of nights away from each other. It is no surprise then that on most mornings following his wife’s death he could be found sleeping in his overstuffed recliner. Nor was it a surprise that he kept telling me the days were too long and the nights were even longer. In retrospect, I feel my father willed his death one year later because after all those years together, and at his age — he was eighty-four — he could not adjust to life without her. Over the years their deep love for each other turned to a profound friendship which was a joy to witness. Every married couple should be this lucky — but luck had nothing to do with it. My parents worked hard at being married to each other. Mama once told me she accepted my father for who he was and forgave him of everything he was. My father said to me once something about ‘not having rose-colored glasses on’ when it came to his wife. I think what they were really saying without giving me a long dissertation on the subject is that they chose to take the other person at face value and give them unconditional love.
I’m not saying my parents never had rocky points in their marriage. I’m saying they decided to be friends when they could not love each other and love each other when they did not want to be friends. It was a choice that all couples should make. Without abuse a factor (which was my case) making this choice seems the wise one.