So You Say You’re Married, Eh?

WEDDING Cindy-Rick TIGHT SHOT Yesterday I went to a birthday party.  It was a serious birthday, a landmark, and even for a successful young mother with three kids, it had an impact.  So what did her sweet husband do?  He made her a present, with the help of his 5 year old son.  I don't want to violate their privacy with a description; just know that it was something that only someone who knew her well could have given her.

It was quite moving to watch her open her gift; presented in the 12th year of their marriage.  I kept thinking that I was already married for three years when she was born; that their journey still has such a long way to go and that we had learned so much in the years still before them.

We've been through chronic disease and heart disease, financial crisis and seven moves, two children, the loss of all four of our parents, extraordinary travel, deep friendships, huge lifestyle changes and daily complications.  And every one of them added a brick to the house.  Every child's birth, and birthday, and graduation and wedding; every torn knee, broken shoulder or opened heart — all the things that make up a life — they're what a marriage is made of.

Not very profound, but true.  The power of a shared history is the foundation – or at least a foundation, of a good marriage, and it gets stronger with every day.  That's all.

Except that those two on the left are celebrating their wedding, September 12, 1971.  And I'm one of them



Right now, I’m crying.  Not just teary, crying.  Right now, the third time I’ve been to this moment.  It’s so embarrassing that until I complete this post I don’t even know if I’ll ever let you see it.  Why such emotion on a sunny day so close to my birthday?  Over a television show?  The final epsiode of one that went off the air in 2006.  One that’s about witches?

If, like me, you never paid much attention to CHARMED, appearing on the now-defunct and youth-oriented WB – about three sisters who are witches and who have witchy powers including, when acting together with the “power of three”, to best Ultimate Evil (I know, I know), let me tell you a bit about them.  I’ve written about them before – when I first found them two years ago and again almost a year ago, after a wedding whose ritual reminded me of theirs, even though in theirs families gather from across the divide between living and dead.  As I wrote then:

On my favorite guilty pleasure, Charmed, rituals of birth and marriage are attended not only by those who share the lives and loves of the Halliwell sisters (yeah they’re witches and their story spent 8 TV seasons enchanting us all) but also by those who came before. They summon, “through space and time”  all members of “the Halliwell line.”  Surrounded by these translucent figures of past
generations, today’s Halliwells celebrate marriages and new arrivals. Those fully and those ephemerally present conclude together “blessed be.”

What does this have to do with Jewish weddings — or any other terrestrial weddings for that matter?  A lot.  Eight years on the air, the longest running show with female leads, it dealt often with travel through time and space and dominions never imagined.  But when really important events arose, all the magic was supplanted by a single, simple spell that basically –well — brought the family together.

I just looked the show up on Wikipedia and discovered that it went off the air on my 60th birthday – having run from October 7, 1998 to May 21, 2006.  My
husband, when he’s in psychiatrist mode, talks about “anniversary reactions” – when we experience deep feelings but can’t quite figure out where they come from.  Sometimes, they have to do with the occurrence of anniversaries we haven’t even noticed have arrived.  In this case, though, I didn’t know the year the show ended, much less the date.  In fact, I was in Paris with my family to celebrate this 60th birthday landmark on that day and didn’t even notice the demise of the long-running  series.  In fact, I first discovered it, in re-runs, airing as I worked in my office.  I used it to keep me company (believe it or not, it’s on four hours a day – two in the morning and two in the afternoon.)  Didn’t know a thing about the show or its success.

I got an earful from one of my sons when I asked though, who claimed that the show caused plenty of  fights with his (then) girlfriend.  Apparently, it was on at the same time as the Simpsons and every week was a negotiation.

But for me it’s somehow more than that.  These three sisters, and their powers, are deeply moving.  Their battles and solidarity, their humor and courage, their conviction that they could literally save the world from evil (p.s., they did) all resonated in a very weird way.  Still do.

Hence the tears.  The final episode, as the post-show future unfolds, feels like my own life.  Endings.  Loving farewells.  The (hopefully) gratification of recognizing a life at least partially well-lived.  The kids and their kids and an idyllic togetherness among sisters and their husbands and their children and their destiny.  A lot to hope for and, I guess, as my own life moves forward, something to cry about.



Mudd_blurrySaturday night we went to an 80th birthday party.  It was for someone whose 43rd we’d also attended — a long time to know someone.  He’s a wonderful man with a wonderful family, and you would know his name if I wrote it here – but it was his party not mine and somehow it feels intrusive to tell you who he is. 

When I was first in the news business, he taught me a great deal.  Ever courtly and generous, excellent at what he did, he shared so much of what he knew and felt about news, politics, government and life.  With humor.  And a gentle sense of irony.  I wish I could communicate how thrilling it was to wander through the tunnels under the Senate, past the secret offices where senators met for gumbo and whiskey, around the corner called "coffin corner" because when the dead lay in state, the coffin had to be tipped vertically to get around the corner on its way to the Rotunda that was its destination — with this gifted man as my guide.

All his kids were at the party of course, along with their spouses and a ton of grandchildren.  All four kids were younger than these grandkids when they attended our wedding.  There were (very short and funny) speeches, lots of teasing, and not an ounce of pretense or artifice.  Of course, the fact that all of them were so happy to see me after our long sojourn in California and year on separate paths, made me feel great.  Even so, the great gift of this evening was that I didn’t even think of that until later.  When you share so much of life, and work, affection and high regard with someone,  you have the luxury of honoring them without obsessing about what it all means to you.  That should tell you more about him than anything.