Some times I hate listening to music. It makes me cry too often. I mean, who wouldn’t cry over lines like: “I can only give you love that lasts forever…” when your stroke survivor husband is sleeping in the other room and you’ve just finished watching The Way We Were?
I loved that movie when it first came out in the early ‘70s. Plot: a Jewish left-wing intensely political woman falls in love with a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant who, by his own admission, had everything in life come too easy for him. It was that movie that made me fall in love with Robert Redford. (Insert a big sigh here.) Barbara Streisand as a movie star I can take or leave but the way she sang the theme song of that film still gets to me.
“…Memories may be beautiful and yet what’s too painful to remember we simply choose to forget…”
We see bits of ourselves in most books or movies. After all, life-experiences are for the most part timeless and universal. I was never as political as Barbara’s character, Katie, but I was certainly far more political than the guys I dated back before I met Don. I was more into sociology, philosophy and social causes, too. I’m eternally grateful that none of those relationships ever worked out but in my twenties I didn’t, of course, see it that way at the time. I dated a lot of aspiring couch potatoes back then and I never would have been happy if I'd have gone on to a life that included serving beer and snacks to the boys every Sunday afternoon while they rallied their favor sports teams towards the play-offs. "Me man. You woman." I love the fact that with Don I was able to grow in a direction of my choosing with his full support and encouragement, and I like to think I did the same for him.
“…So it's the laughter we will remember whenever we remember the way we were….”
I look back at all the memories that Don and I made together over the years and I know deep in my soul why I view these caregiver/survivor years as just another chapter in a long book of chapters. We’ve done a lot of living and growing together. We've explored the outer envelope of love and respect in a way that appeared unconventional to the causal eye but really wasn't.
Thumbing through our memories isn't about wishing for the past. It’s about loneliness that is often hard to bear. It’s about being two peas in a pod that is hanging on to the mother plant by a thin thread called the future. It's about worrying about the wind that will come along and knock the pod to the ground. The cycle of life goes on, seed to plant and plant to seed.
I suppose some people will misunderstand a caregiver who spends an evening looking back over her life and wondering what would have happened if she’d taken door number one or two instead of door number three. I don’t view my reminiscing in a negative way. It's not a wistfulness or longing for the past. Maybe that's because I realize that I didn’t turn out all that bad and that my choices led to a good place despite the bumps in the road along the way. Reminiscing, for me, is about going back to the past to gather strength to go on in the future. And memories are part of the commonalities that bind Don and me together. They, along with soul mate kind of love, makes our commitment to one another stick like Crazy Glue on our shoes.
“…Memories light the corners of my mind. Misty water colored memories of the way we were...”
Jean Riva ©
Photo: Don and me, circa 1973