They say we women all become our mothers as we age. When my mom got older, she had a series of strokes which affected her ability to think clearly. One little result of that bothered me a lot—her clothes were always spotted. You could tell what Mom had for lunch by looking at her outfit. I swore I would never get there, but today I happened to look down at the T-shirt I sleep in. You can count how many times I’ve brushed my teeth by the drips of toothpaste! And then there’s that spot of marinara.
Another clothing faux pas. I wore what I thought was a cute, coordinated outfit to church this morning. As a matter of fact I also wore it to dinner last night. A turquoise-and-gray top, with gray pants and gray shoes. Imagine my surprise when we got home at noon and I looked down in broad, full daylight only to discover that my pants, far from gray, were blue. I asked Jordan why she didn’t tell me, and she said she didn’t notice. Maybe no one else did either.
Tonight I went to a dinner party and managed, I think, to wear an appropriate outfit—okay, that turquoise top again but with gray pants this time—and not to dribble food on my shirt, though we were in a Mexican restaurant with plenty of opportunity for dribbling salsa and pico de gallo. I gathered with some fifty other people to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of friends Carol Roark and Lon Burnam. We celebrated our friends and clapped when Lon made a short speech about their first meeting.
The whole gathering was like a mini-meeting of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, and we were all energized, even before the news went around the room that Nancy Pelosi had lunch in Fort Worth today with a couple who were in the very room with us.
For me, the party was a chance to see friends I hadn’t seen in a while and sort of catch up, though the noise level was extreme and half the time I couldn’t hear what someone was saying to me. Still, I managed to re-hook with a friend that I thought had moved out of my life and to garner a speaking arrangement for spring, after my Alamo book comes out. So it was fun, with an extra layer of good for me.
Lon is a former Texas legislator and now a consultant for causes he cares passionately about, like world peace and nuclear waste and the environment. Carol, a historian and librarian, retired as director of the Texas Collection at the Dallas Public Library and now pursues independent projects she cares about, like digitalizing records of the local black genealogy society. She also writes books and has edited some of mine. They travel frequently, sometimes together but often not. Seeing a couple like Lon and Carol, with a long marriage but yet degrees of independence, makes me think of those wonderful words from Robert Browning’s “Rabbi Ben Ezra”:
Grow Old with me,
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made . . . .
They fill me with admiration for what they have accomplished, because I know the forty years haven’t always been easy, but as a survivor of a marriage gone terribly wrong, I also admit o a twinge of jealousy. Happy longevity is something not many achieve. God bless them.