Marriage longevity & the mantra of Time will Tell

Thursday morning I took a flight down to Mexico for a week, stuck on an aisle (I’m a window gal, more privacy) and had a couple beside me. He, looking like a throwback from the seventies with shoulder-length graying hair and a Geraldo Rivera-wide mustache that begged to be trimmed, and she still sporting a mullet, the puffy rims around her eyes barely moving as she concentrated on the itty-bitty phone in her hands. Her thumbs moved frantically as she attempted to kill whatever demons were in a game more suitable for an eight-year old. They say little and smiles are non-existent. The mood turns surly when they learn wine isn’t complimentary as it was on their earlier Horizon flight, which means instead of saying two words to each other and one sentence to me (“I need to use the toilet.” No please or excuse me. Ahh. These Canadians. So direct).

I sigh, thinking the four hour flight will be a long one and open my laptop and turn up the first of many songs I scored in Switzerland last year (of course, they are everywhere thx to Internet radio. I just happened to used my Shazam while I was in a club and it was the direct route). As I’m doing so, I turn to my right and see another couple, roughly the same age, but opposite in every way, already talking to Rog. I lower the music just enough to hear the banter about the flight, hometowns and how nice it will be for that Canadian couple to escape the quasi cold of Quebec to hit the shores of Mexico. I guess they are ten years older than the couple next to be by virtue of grey hair and wrinkles.

Two hours and a cheese plate pass me by. I unplug and hear the man (who I learned is Stanley) and Rog swapping pilot stories. Rog, once again bemoaning his “bad eye” that didn’t allow him to fly fighter jets but he can fly his own planes–so comforting, right? When they start talking hockey, I check out. I up the volume and return to my screen, which is far more exciting that talking about the Blackhawks and Patrick Kane (which is what Rog wants to name our next dog. May our present dog live until after I die). Stan’s wife has also checked out. Periodically, I see the man glance over to me in an ‘oh, really?’ type of way, his eyebrows raised, and I fear for what my husband is telling the man. Whatever, I say to myself. I’ll never see him again.

An hour before we land, my battery runs out and I’m too lazy to get up and retrieve my powercord. I eavesdrop again and learn the man has been married 47 years. Forty-sevennnnnn. Now, I pause to remember my own parents have been married over 50, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. I listen. I observe, and then I it hits me. He has a permanent smile on his face, his hands are animated, but not overly so. His eyes are bright and alive. Stan has a vibrancy and zest for life that exceeds his seat and pushes out and over him, front, back and sideways, to me. I momentarily visualize the airframe of the plane bulbing out at his positive energy. His wife, although in to her book, periodically touches his arm, gives a smile or leans her cheek on his shoulder.

47 years. Happiness. Zest and vibrancy. I do what I do, and start asking questions. What do you get a person for an anniversary gift after 47 years? Answer: “Nothing,” replied the wife, who never did offer a name. “We stopped at year 30. We don’t need anything.” How do you remain so happy? Answer: “What’s not to be happold couple photoy about?”

Eventually,  I ran out of questions that I wanted to ask, because I went inward, thinking about the couple next to me, and how they were literally consuming the lifeblood from within the plane (including my own). Then, I thought about me and those that I know- both in relationships or married. Where does the longevity come from–within–is what I think Stan would say. But as I’ve been sitting poolside or walking the beach or working out, I’ve thought more about the experiences that comprise 47 years–everyday, week and month–each one with choices that determine our happiness that hour, day or month. It all adds up. Can I do more? Yeah. Will I do more? Yeah.

When Stan looked me in the eye and said, “The best years are still to come,” he said it with conviction. I looked him right back and thought to myself, catch me in about 30+ years and I’ll let you know.