Cooking With Myra: Can love last a lifetime?
By Myra Starkey
Jan. 15, 2013 at midnight
Updated Jan. 14, 2013 at 7:15 p.m.
Last weekend, Taylor and I spent time with one of my college friends. I didn't just hang out with her while we were at Baylor as students 30 years ago. About five years after that, we had both progressed further through the usual life stages, getting married and having kids, and Taylor and I had moved back to Waco while he was doing his residency in family medicine.
She and her husband had settled there and became our best buddies. We muddled through our early careers and learned all the stuff about infants and toddlers that you can only know by actually having them in your constant possession. Those were simpler and joyous times. After a couple of years, we left for Victoria.
Our paths crossed again about 15 years later when both of our oldest sons were freshmen roommates at Baylor. Our friendship was renewed, and we had a passion to be around them - only things had changed. Their marriage was struggling. He had new friends. They had been regular church members but now didn't seem to have the time.
They had disagreements about this and that, and we had to listen closely to figure out exactly what their differences were because when grace and trust exist in a relationship, most things aren't such a big deal. We all do and say things we wish we didn't, but we forgive and move on. Only they didn't and couldn't, and she moved to Austin alone. After a few years, the divorce was final. She and I talked a lot last weekend about her new single life. We laughed like college girls at the thrill and angst of dating again and then sighed over how many changes have occurred in our lives.
Some of our friends have divorced over the years and others have lost spouses in death, but the question that has haunted me recently is whether or not love can last a lifetime. Is that only a silly, romantic notion? Can something so intense and real just fade away? I have discussed this question with Taylor recently, and one might imagine how much he loves talking about the subject.
I assume he would prefer to be woodworking or watching a football game. Instead I find myself sitting quietly, staring into his eyes and asking the question, will he love me forever? I am trying to elicit a promise, an eternal pledge to love me forever but usually he just answers that we won't live forever on Earth. His answer is not what I am after, so he usually succumbs and vows "yes, that as long as we both shall live," and he gives me no reason to doubt him. I am struggling with this forever love.
I grew up watching my parents in their marriage. I am fortunate in that I had good role models. I saw my father give in to my mother's requests (sometimes unreasonable), and other times noticed that my mother gave my father total devotion and trust in decisions he chose to make, knowing she would have preferred a different outcome. I heard them argue fairly about decisions and finally come to mutual agreements. Their marriage may not have been perfect, but they chose to stay married.
Recently, my mother died, leaving a huge void in my father's life. Having a wife for 53 years by your side makes a hole that cannot be quickly filled. My sadness over Mom's death lingers, and I can only imagine what my father feels. I know he is tired of being sad, and he will move on.
Last weekend, we drove to Lake Charles, La., to throw him an 80th birthday party. He invited about 30 friends to share in this momentous occasion. My sisters and I made Mexican food since most of the folks there had probably had their fill of Cajun food and were ready for a change. I listened to the chatter and laughter in the room. If I totaled the complete years of all in attendance, I imagine we had about 2,000 years of wisdom, all grateful for fajitas and being alive.
They all brought cards, and it took him about an hour to read through the pile. Dad enjoyed every moment of his day. He smiled and laughed and thanked us for being there for him. He told us that he missed Mom and wished she could have been there to celebrate with us. It has been five months since she died, and it seemed odd to me that there were 30 people in that room for this event, but I could not find her in the crowd.
Dad has started seeing a "lady friend." She is almost his age. He has known her for awhile because they go to church together. Her husband died a few years ago. The crowd all squeezed together for a group picture at his birthday party, and she was standing very near to him, and he had his arm around her waist. She seems to be a very nice lady, but she is not my mother. And again I wondered, "does love last forever?"
Love and life are lived fully - one day at a time.
In my quest to live long and be healthy, I am cooking from a fabulous new cookbook, "Mindful Eating" by Miraval. I added garlic, but the recipe is delicious and light. Enjoy.
Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.