Starting our 12th year
Today is our 11th wedding anniversary. I started a new life at age 76.
It was a grayish morning when our car headed north on I-83 toward Mecklenberg County in Virginia with a purpose that seemed surreal. We lived in North Carolina at the time, but “Virginia Is For Lovers” - and true to their motto, we were able to get a license and married all within a day. As I recall, the municipal venue was Clarksville - a name which allowed the melody of The Monkees 1966 hit to create the day’s soundtrack. For opera-loving Italians, music turns everyday life into an event.
License in hand, we arrived as expected at Cooper’s Landing Inn. The owner had previously asked me if we wanted an officiant using a Bible or not. And so it was that in a backyard gazebo, an itinerant preacher, guided us through our Christian vows - followed by Champaign and cherry topped cake.
Third marriages are not usually cause for family celebrations. In fact, disapprovals peek out from behind Hallmark smiles. So our decision to go-it-alone seemed safe. The reason we rushed was because we were headed to Italy for one of my academic programs, and neither of us felt comfortable being so publicly unmarried - a residual effect of having started my programs years ago under Jesuit auspices. For Olga, it reflected a deep personal morality.
Russians are among the most devout Europeans, having a pent up faith unleashed with the fall of communism. Italians are awash in centuries of religious pomp in search of a popular circumstance. A long history unites the two peoples going back to the Italian artisans and architects that flooded Russia to hel Peter the Great create his new capital in St. Petersburg. Their love of music and poetry almost make them mirror cultures. Compatibility is enhanced by strong emotions lying close to the surface.
This morning I celebrated our “volcanic relationship” because it was a two-way affair. Very long quiet, caring moments in between outbursts that say “enough is enough.” Such are really resets that all relationships need in order to move ahead. I am amazed about how few arguments interrupt our days. As a typical Mediterranean male, I require inordinate attention. Thank God Olga is Russian.
Eleven years of marriage haven’t generated nuggets of advice. I do feel that comparing the present to past relationships makes one realize that the seeds of failure are always there and ready to sprout nourished by tears of unhappiness. My best advice, always try to make the other happy.
The one advantage of a marriage late in life is that there is not enough time for destructive elements to develop. And if they do, aging has deprived you of the alternatives you once imagined.
So I close deeply appreciative that Olga has allowed love to flow through my life freely when I least expected it. My age and physical condition would normally deprive me of access to such beauty and brilliance. But luckily, she could see the “me that isn’t I.”
Olga, thank you for all the ways you enriched my life, for the new perspectives and the chance to experience your family. I look forward to the ensuing chapters. Love, Andy.