Thursday, August 25, 2011


In a week or so Nancy and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary. For the past few years we’ve celebrated at our favorite Kansas City restaurant, Le Fou Frog (The Crazy Frenchman). I’ve already made our reservations for this year.
Twenty-five years is a significant chunk of time. A lot can happen in twenty-five years. We’ve witnessed the election of our first African-American president, 9-11, two wars in the Persian Gulf, one in Afghanistan, a national economic meltdown, and a presidential election decided by the Supreme Court. We’ve been through the death of her father and one of her brothers and my mother’s passing. We’ve been unemployed. We’ve been broke. We’ve been blessed with plenty.
Yet, when I consider our years together it’s not so much the big things that capture my attention. It’s the silver memories that taken together add up to powerful bonds of love and affection. So, I’m going to share a few of those moments with you. As I do, you might want to prop your feet up and think back to your silver moments with your significant other.
I remember the early days. Nancy and I had been chosen to be part of a teaching team. There came a time when we’d spend time outside the church, just talking. The first conversations lasted five minutes. Then, five minutes became a half hour, then an hour or more. One night as I was on my way back home I found myself in a mystical conversation with Nancy. I could see her face in the windshield. As I passed through the inner loop of downtown Kansas City a cop pulled me over. I was doing 62 in a 45 MPH zone. I apologized and admitted my guilt, but knew I couldn’t tell the cop that the reason I was speeding was because I had gotten caught up in the apparition of a beautiful woman. He kept pressing the point and I finally said, “If I plead insanity will you give me my ticket and let me go?” The result was an on-the-spot safety inspection of my beat up old Ford and close to $300 of mechanical repairs to go with it. The next time I saw Nancy I proposed. I told her, “I’m not a college sophomore any more. I know what I want. I’m head over heels in love with you. And, besides, if I don’t marry you I’ll be dead broke in less than a month.” That was in April of ’86. We got married in September.
The early years were tough. We had to work our way through differences. I liked noisy mornings, jumpstarted by Dire Straits. Nancy preferred Debussy. She was quiet and reflective, as opposed to my manic flailing around on the exercise machine in the basement. She liked quiche. I liked ham and cheese omelets.
We moved to New Jersey in the late eighties. We rented an old Victorian home near Montville. It was a wonderful place. Nancy loved it. I remember a morning when we were peering out a picture window in our breakfast nook while we sipped coffee. Suddenly, there was something that captured her full attention. It was a bird. She got so excited when she saw it that she grabbed my hand across the table, squeezed it, and exclaimed, “Oh, Phil, it’s the Flicker! He’s come back.” I don’t think she was fully aware of what was going on inside her. I’m not a weak man, but a part of me wanted to cry out in pain. I didn’t want to short circuit the moment, so I sat there, soaking in the effect, realizing that I was going to share many more of those wonderful moments with her as time went by.
I remember our first brush with mortality. It was early morning and we were sitting at an inn in Cape May. Nancy seemed to know that I was feeling uncomfortable about being around so many older people. I was beginning to sense time and mortality moving at light speed away from me. She asked what seemed to be a strange question. “Slick, what will you do if I die before you?” Like an idiot, I blurted out, “I don’t want you to ever die.” I felt so noble when I said it. It wasn’t till I got home and read C.S. Lewis’s “A Grief Observed” that I realized I’d been more worried about the things I wanted from Nancy  than I had about Nancy herself. I had to learn that she wasn’t put on earth solely for my amusement.  
There are so many of those silver moments, but I’ve run out of space. It’s time to go downstairs and reflect quietly. Maybe it would be a good time for you to reflect on your silver moments, too.

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