A couples commitment (column)
The last time I spoke to Robert, he had just finished changing his wife Mary’s diaper. He told me this with no trace of self-pity but rather to share one of the remaining intimacies of a couple still very much in love.
She learned of her sickness on her 49th birthday. With drugs and determination she fought the good fight but eventually the disease proved stronger than science.
A small saving grace of the tragedy was that the couple is financially well off. Robert is a successful musician. Mary is famous only for being Rob’s mate.
They met almost 30 years ago in New York City. Robert was playing horn in the Village and Mary was a hostess at a popular after-hours night club. She was unique in her Spanish beauty and in the fact that she seemed to have little interest in the dashing musician.
The music took Robert all over the world during the next several years. When he returned to the city Mary still greeted guests at the restaurant but now she owned the place. They dated, fell in love and moved in together.
Mary ran their lives with the same cordial efficiency that she ran her restaurant. She paid the bills, kept their calendar and made sure her husband dressed well on stage. Robert’s manager would call Mary first to run the performance dates by her before he even approached her mate.
While Robert was frail, temperamental and prone to sickness, Mary was a rock of health and stability. She sold her restaurant, which gave her more time to manage Robert’s life and career, and they both flourished.
It is ironic that Robert, the sensitive, artistic, hypochondriac, 10 years Mary’s senior, would be the one called upon as caregiver. He became the one to run their home and kept visitors to a minimum so as not to tire his wife.
They had a garden loft in with a view of Central Park and he would wrap Mary in blankets and sit with her. He would read to her until she slept then he would sit quietly often staring at her with tears in his eyes. He said during those moments he felt as close to her as if they were making love.
By all reports Robert seldom left her side. They had a housekeeper and hospice nurse but Robert preferred to perform the more delicate tasks himself. He said to a friend of mine, “She is as beautiful dying as she was when she first stole my heart in the East Village.”
Mary and Robert were never legally married. It never seemed important. But with the likelihood of Mary’s death the reality of their common law situation became evident and opened a Pandora ’s Box of concern.
At Mary’s insistence, they asked their dear friend, a judge, to come to their apartment and make it official. The ceremony was sweet and simple — a few friends standing around the sitting couple as the judge pronounced them man and wife. Truth is their marriage, at the time, could only have happened in a handful of states that allowed same sex marriages. Because in truth it wasn’t Robert and Mary it was Robert and Martin.
My reason for misdirection on the sexual orientation of this couple was to hopefully illustrate that love and commitment trumps gender.
A few weeks ago I was one of many who celebrated the SCOTUS’s decision to make same sex marriage the law of the land.
I’m not smart enough to have an opinion of the Constitutionality of SCOTUS’s decision. But to me it just feels right. I’m sure there are many good and intelligent folks that don’t agree and are angered by the court’s decision. The court is like a policeman, you love them when they are dragging you out of a burning vehicle; hate them when they are writing you a speeding ticket.
I can totally respect those who due to religious opinions do not agree and I believe that their particular churches should be able to follow those beliefs. But I grew up in a faith that, at the time, condemned eating meat on Friday (I always suspected this was the work of the fish market lobby). Would it be fair if we Catholics expected the rest of the country to follow suit?
Life is too short to waste energy on trying to define or confine love.
After the simple and sweet ceremony the guests left and Robert and Martin celebrated their honeymoon sitting in their garden on one of the last warm nights of autumn. When the mild weather returned in the spring Robert sat there alone missing his wife.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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