|Rogers and Hart|
Composers like Richard Rogers have inspired come back discs for artists like Rod Stewart, Tony Bennett, and more recently Shirley Jones, who unabashedly confesses to being charmed by the genre, even as she approaches 78. I was listening to her disc A Tribute to Richard Rogers the other evening and was thinking that “love” has an entirely different air to it now than when I was younger, considerably younger.
For instance, when I listened to the words of “I Wish I Were in Love Again” I noticed that they spoke to how unsettled the feelings are when you are falling in love. The song points out how things are changing and the fact that one is unsettled is confusing and somewhat frightening. In contrast, now, at my age, I find the thing most noticeable about the love I experience is exactly the opposite. It is the stability, the comfort of knowing what is happening, or experiencing the calm that ensues from knowing that love is reciprocated, that you have an anchor in an unsettled world.
And then, when I listened more carefully to “Falling in Love” I realized that happened a long time ago, and what I now take comfort in is staying in love. In realizing that there is still love in a world that is not “make-believe”, and that I am not “playing the fool” but am comfortable with giving trust and making an effort to be responsive to another’s needs.
When we were courting, we agreed more or less that to be successful each member of the union needed to give more than 50%. In other words, needed to think of the other more than of oneself. I am one hundred percent sure I do not do that all the time, but I think I do it often. I often think of a comment my brother-in-law made when his wife passed away. “I wish I had given her flowers more often” he said. Now, we have orchids on the window sill that get changed when they look a little peaked. Not because of an occasion, but because Mary seems to enjoy them.
When I more of less retired six years ago, one of the things I said I would do is fix supper one night a week. I’ve been pretty faithful about that, but one thing that has changed, is that I try to do that on a night when it would be most helpful to Mary: when she was shopping until late afternoon, or had an appointment that might be tiring.
.And there are the rituals that have developed through the years, that give comfort because they are reminders of how much time we have spent together: for instance, we sit pretty much in the same area when we go to church, without asking the other where they want to sit. We breakfast and dine together in the evening as an expected event. And, while I may not open the car door for her, I notie if she is getting there before me, and I unlock the door, for her convenience. And we actually kiss several times a day; not as ardently as when we were twenty-five, but with some spirit.
Even our bad habits give a certain amount of stability to the love we feel for each other. I finish her sentences, which drives her nuts. And she leaves cupboard doors and drawers open for me to edge around and bump into. We can count on the other to do that, just to remind ourselves that this is the person we married some fifty years ago.
So, what is love like at 75? It’s nice, thank you for asking.
In my next post I’ll share with you my experience in seeing another group that has been together for fifty years, The Chieftains, whom we saw in performance last evening.