I met Deb in our sophomore year at SUNY-Binghamton. My girlfriend moved on to her floor so we were just friends. But I liked her and in time I grew to like her a lot. Fortunately, I got dumped and she eventually broke up with her boyfriend.
We officially got together as a couple our junior year and before the school year was out, things sped up so we wound up engaged. The wedding planning was a true trial for all concerned as we dealt with pressure, anticipated and not, from all sides.
It was an ominously dark and stormy night on Oct. 18, 1980, but you couldn’t tell from the beaming grin on her face. We made it, we were going to be joined together and begin a life as one.
Her father said it’d never last. On our fifth anniversary, while enjoying a celebratory weekend in Cape May, I wanted to call him and blow a raspberry. Deb convinced me otherwise although some time later she recounted it for him. To his credit, her father laughed and said he deserved it.
We took a Royal Caribbean cruise to celebrate our tenth, recreating our honeymoon. The 20th was a nice dinner out with Kate and Robbie after renewing our vows in church.
The kids threw us a surprise party for the 25th. The surprise was on them as they were trapped in the parish’s 50th anniversary mass, which ran long, and no matter what Kate tried, couldn’t convince Deb to leave early. That is, until I called her to report all of our friends and much of our family were suddenly streaming into the house.
Our 30th was far more quiet, two years after we lost Robbie.
We wanted to try something big and flashy for the 40th. A huge party in Connecticut, a renewal of our vows, and a chance to see people we hadn’t seen in a while. New friends from Maryland were willign to come north, my brother and sister were booking travel to come see us, and so on. Covid-19 put the kibosh on that, as we reluctantly canceled the affair.
Instead, today will be a quiet day together with a fancy steak dinner and a cake made for us by my professional pastry chef turned fellow English teacher.
These last four decades have certainly tested our bond. We both went through bouts of unemployment, the scariest being the six weeks we were both out of work. There have been medical concerns as we’ve aged and now retirement is looming in less than a decade. We welcomed and said farewell to numerous pets, moved several times, and through it all, supported one another.
We know one another’s strengths and weaknesses, compensating as required. We’re used to each other, we’re comfortable together, and still make each other laugh or burn in frustration. We cheer each other’;s successes and lend a shoulder when times get tough. Rolling with the punches was never easy for me, but Deb has taught me to unwind a bit, for which I am grateful.
I can’t imagine life without my best friend and my partner. 40 down, plenty to go!