“I have been thinking about your question regarding my Michael and want to respond but I hope you won’t read it until sometime in the next weeks when you are sitting around doing nothing.”
“And I know now what my questions for Lydia will be, should I find her: What did you want? What did you get? What did you lose? We don’t know when Lydia met John Roper, but she saw something in this veteran of the California gold mines and the battlefields of Virginia, headed south with dreams of fortune, that allowed her to walk away from that Philadelphia life and go with him. What was Lydia Hand Bowen after? What dreams was she chasing?” (Looking for Lydia; Looking for God, 56).
When Teri came by, on the day I arrived in Grand Rapids, we spent several hours catching up, and–as has been true for the two of us since the day we met–we wasted little time with small talk, even after nearly fifteen years. She told me about her children and her grandchildren–her family–always the great loves of her life.
And she told me about her Michael. They have been together for eight years, and I am aware of how many of her dreams of the ideal relationship she has set aside.
And so I asked: “What is it about this relationship that it has lasted for eight years? Tell me about this man.”
I am sure I asked those questions as much for myself as for Teri, and as much for all of us as for Teri and me. I, too, wonder what I wanted and what I got and about the nature of the compromises I made to have this life I now live.
“And so, the ladies at the Roper Home and I are looking for God and Lydia and possibly ourselves. We have sometimes been frustrated, sometimes afraid; we have found good work, we have found each other. We are discovering God in some new ways” (Looking for Lydia, 164).
And Teri’s first answer was:
“I’d like to think about that.”
I have enjoyed pounding nails next to him as he builds his cabin. It is beautiful and very well done, and he is a smart worker and planner, very much like my father was. He will buy just the right amount of lumber for the weekend depending on what work he plans to do. He has paid for every board as he goes and so will own it when he is done.
He is all about pleasing me.
He massages me, especially my hands.
I am sixty years old and have been a court reporter since 1976; that’s thirty-nine years. These are hard-working hands.
No one has ever wanted to do that for me.
We love spending time together.
It is precious, like a vacation every time.
He takes me to fancy restaurants on New Year’s Eve and takes me to German restaurants whenever we are near one.
He loves to dance and will dance in the aisle of anywhere with me whether anyone else is dancing or not.
He sends me roses! He buys me sexy shirts for Christmas.
He once sold fine men’s suits, and he is always well dressed.
We do a lot of naked dancing, actually, at the cabin, when we are alone.
He loves and cares for his ninety-eight-year-old mother and is a star at the nursing home, where all the ladies wait for him to say hello and goodbye to them, which he does, of course, calling each one by name.
His boys were nervous about me, but I assured them I am not a threat and I understand that this is their cabin. He enables both boys ridiculously, which, thank God, is none of my business. The twenty-eight-year-old, his girlfriend, and her baby have just moved out; the thirty-year-old is still there.
Michael’s ex-wife has been living there since August until she moves into her new home on November 1st. I told him to keep his pants on and his door locked, and he assured me she’s not a threat. My one boundary is that we are sexually with only each other, and about that we have remained steadfast.
He does occasionally buy rounds of tequila for a table of girls. He is always the life of the party–a drinker and outgoing, like me. I can’t judge him.
He is great at sales and is Number One in his company.
He always pays for everything, and I like the powerfulness of his doing that. I enjoy being provided for, although if my children are coming to the cabin I buy the groceries for the weekend.
We are going to Cabo San Lucas on his company trip in February and to Costa Rica in March, where he hopes to find an apartment to rent for three months out of the year. We will see. I am not sure how long I can be away, although now that I am going back to free-lancing, no longer committed to a full-time job, I imagine that may be part of the plan.
We talk about sex a lot and have sex at least twice every weekend we are together.
He is very much a liberal Democrat, and his folks were union workers. He loves to talk about history and politics and is very very knowledgable about both. We disagree so vehemently about abortion that we can’t even talk about it.
He always wants to know what he can do to please me and begs me to tell him how. So I am not sure how functional or dysfunctional we are. He is always amazed to hear me say he is my best ever, as I don’t think he believes he gives as much as he should. He often says, “You need to find someone who will marry you.”
But somewhere along the way I finally gave up my Cinderella views and am much more willing to take each moment as it comes. I am grateful for the time we get to spend together and am finding it wonderful to let my Good come to me rather than having expectations or trying to manipulate someone into a relationship. It’s not always been easy, but my faith in my True Provider just gets stronger and stronger, and I know more and more that the blessings will come to me in God’s good time (and NOT sooner!).
I cannot believe the life I get to live and constantly feel like I am getting away with something.
I am especially good if I get to three meetings a week and my chiropractor and naturopath every few months. I have to work everyday on letting go of my alcoholic sons and my codependent daughter and not living in fear for my grandchildren.
None of us knows the day or the hour.
I realized with my dad passing that one day we all just go away and that I need to be in each moment as fully as possible. I have felt more relief than grief at that death and realize that all my life I have been waiting for the next critique or judgment of my life.
As you approach the end of this year and take a look back, order a copy of Looking for Lydia; Looking for God from Amazon or Barnes&Noble online, and join those women in their nineties as they unexpectedly discover themselves and each other by asking just these hard questions.