Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine's Day Story: That Common Repertoire of Experience

Henry Miller - 89
Encino, California

The following is an excerpt from
"gOLD: The Extraordinary Side of Aging Revealed Through Inspiring Conversations" (available in both paperback and eBook formats). This is the introduction to the section on Love and Marriage:

Henry Miller was a friend and agent to a number of prominent entertainers, such as Nat King Cole and Kay Starr. I had the honor of visiting him one afternoon at his Encino, California, home, and when the interview was completed, Henry and his wife, Jane, invited—no, they insisted that I join them for a light dinner. Since they had already prepared the meal and set three places at the kitchen table, how could I resist?

At one point during dinner, I found myself mesmerized as I listened to Henry and Jane tell stories about their life together. They talked about their move from Kansas out to California, and how they had watched their neighborhood evolve over the years.

“It was just woods out there, as far as the eye could see,” Henry explained, pointing out the window. “Clark Gable used to always ride his horse right over there, up and down the street,” he said, laughing.

While we were finishing dinner, enjoying coffee and some of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted, the conversation turned to the subjects of marriage and family. Knowing that Henry and Jane had been married 63 years, I had to ask the “How do you do 63 years of marriage?” question. At that point, Henry reached across the table, placing his hand on Jane’s.

“You know, Harry,” Henry explained, “at least ten—who knows, maybe 20—times during that first—what—five years? Six, perhaps? I was gone. I mean, I was out the door; I didn’t want any part of it,” he said, chuckling. “Things sometimes got frustrating; I can’t lie. But, you know,” he said, pausing, looking down and pushing his cup and saucer to one side, “I didn’t leave. Neither of us did. We worked at it—together—as the partners we had promised we’d be to each other—no matter what.”

Henry stroked Jane’s hand as he spoke.

“And now, 63 years later, it’s the memories of those times—we share them. We know that we did, in fact, stick it out. And it’s that common repertoire of experience that serves as the cement that makes this marriage so very special.”

And at that, Henry lifted Jane’s hand and kissed it. Jane’s eyes closed.

“Now, how’s that for a speech?” Henry said, smiling.

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To read more about what folks like Henry have to say, please feel free to purchase a copy of "gOLD: The Extraordinary Side of Aging Revealed Through Inspiring Conversations" for a friend or loved one. If you already have a copy, please pass on the word about this important book.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Valentine's Story: "I Knew"

Manny Weinstein—85
Newton Center, Massachusetts

Manny was one of the very first people I met on my Eldercation journey. The morning I visited with him, Manny sat with me in his sunny home located in Newton Center, Massachusetts, and that’s where he told his story about how he met the love of his life, Dolly, who had passed away many years earlier. “She was a preemie,” Manny explained. “And when her brother first saw her, he said, ‘Oh, my! She looks like a little doll.’ So right away, she was Dolly,” Manny said, smiling. “Calm and so easygoing—the sweetest thing you ever saw.”

Here are some excerpts from Manny's story as it appears in "gOLD: The Extraordinary Side of Aging Revealed Through Inspiring Conversations" (available in both paperback and eBook formats):

* * * * * * * * * *

"Finding the right woman and marrying my wife, Dolly. That’s the thing I’m most proud of. I just ended up with a girl who was so good for me and I never thought I deserved somebody that nice. And I guess—well, the whole thing was unusual, because I got engaged by proxy, by my father.

I was a very shy person, never had a steady girlfriend. Any time I went out, it was on a blind date that somebody made for me. So a bunch of us, friends, we used to go to a camp in Annisquam, outside Gloucester, run by a guy named Abe. It was a great place to have fun. And I remember I went into the rec hall there one day and I saw this young girl, dancing—she was doing the Lindy, which is an old dance from years ago. She was very spry and she was just . . . Harry, I was just taken with her right away. And then I think one of our trips to Gloucester at night was to get on one of these big sailing boats and take a ride. And I’m a romantic person, so, you know, the spray of the ocean, the breeze, the silence; you could feel the strength of the wind pulling the boat. And then, of course, having Dolly sitting beside me was nice, too. (Smiles.)

So, anyway, when girls went home at the end of the week, they had cars or taxis to take them to Boston, to the train, and so on. And when the girls got to the station, everybody grabbed their bags to help them get into the car, and then the guys wrote down the girls’ numbers in their little black books, “So we’ll write to each other”—you know how it goes. So I took down Dolly’s name and address and that was that.

Now it was two years later, I went into the service and I took my little black book; there must’ve been a hundred names in it. I bought a hundred penny postcards and wrote to every girl and thought, “Whoever answers me I’ll correspond with.” And Dolly answered me. Please understand: I hadn’t seen or talked with her or anything since the camp. But she answered me.

So we corresponded a little bit; she wrote me very nice letters. Never “Hello, how are ya? What’s doing?” Never anything shallow like that. Every letter was interesting, and different. So I invited her to come to Boston to spend my second furlough with me—this was just before I was heading overseas—and she accepted.

I met her upstairs at one of those balcony things there at the train station. I remember exactly what she had on: a leopard coat—imitation, of course—and one of these brown pillbox hats. And she gave me a hug. I don’t even know if I kissed her. . . . Anyhow, I asked for a furlough extension, got it, and we became engaged. It was the last day there, I looked at her and said, “I guess this is it.” She says, “Yeah.”

I knew."

* * * * * * * * * *

To read more about what Manny has to say (as well as hear stories from many other lively seniors, please feel free to purchase a copy of "gOLD: The Extraordinary Side of Aging Revealed Through Inspiring Conversations" for a friend or loved one. It really
is a tremendous (and important) investment.

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