57 years of married life……………………65 years of married life.
In a country where too much sneezing and loud snoring can become a reason for divorce, I have interacted with two people, one of them was married for 65 years. She was 84 when I happened to interact with her. She sent me a handwritten note. She had the small gift I sent to her by her bedside in the old age home in Oklahoma. This was about 7 or 8 years back. I know I have kept the card somewhere safe. I kept it too safe that I have to search for it now. But I do remember some of the heart touching statements from that note. One was ” My hands do not go where I my mind wants it to go”. She was not keeping well and she was 85. She lived with her husband for 65 years. His son is a CEO of a multimillion dollar company. I think he must be in his 60s or more. I happened to meet him for lunch with his wife. When I asked him how many children he has, his answer was, “between me and her we have 11 kids” which is a clear indication that both of them were married after a failed marriage with someone else.His mom, the 85 years old lady died within two years of losing her husband. I never spoke to her. But I used to e mail her son which will be sent to her. Everytime I read that letter from her, that gave a new meaning to life’s lessons….Looking back, I feel bad for not writing many letters. I think that is the last handwritten letter I received after a very very long time.
This person, Gildo, is another person whom I met where I go to play PingPong. The first time I happened to see him, I was playing with someone else.When I saw Gildo walking with a slight hunchback I was making some not so good comments, to another person who was playing with me. I said” we should not be surprised if he comes to play ping pong “with a smirk on my face. Because the way he was walking the way he looked, made me feel that he could never be a PingPong player which demands your lightning responses in a good game. To my surprise within few minutes, he opened the small pouch he had and took his paddle and started waiting for his turn. When he walked in everybody in the community center greeted him.I was wondering who he could be.When his turn came, I had to play against him.We started playing within few minutes he made me feel how bad I am inside and outside. His returns were pretty fast. Between shots he would bend down and rest his hands on his knees. His backhand was amazing. His smash was great. Every smash and every return by him was a slap on a face. I enjoyed each of them like the beatings I miss from my dad now for decades. I lost my game. I felt so good losing against him. That taught me again the lessons I had forgotten . I was ashamed for having commented about him based on the looks and age.
I did not meet him for another 2 months. I played with again last week.
After the games we just sat together had a nice conversation. He must be in his high 70’s or may be early 80’s. Lost his wife of 55 years last Oct 13.He loves his wife so much still, that he could not complete the sentence about his wife and had to stop, wipe his tears..correct his breaking voice…take a few seconds before proceeding. He told me he just wants to get out of his house as much as possible. Because whenever he is there, he sees her and he misses her and ends up crying and getting depressed. He said “When we lived together for 55 years, we just became one”.
It may not be new to many of us. Many Indian couple live together for much longer time than the couple in US. But the social atmosphere makes a big difference. One is a society where divorce is considered a taboo. The other is a society where 50% of the marriages end up in divorce. I am not discussing about divorce here but about the couple who live together. I don’t know how many of them will miss their spouse like this man does. The abyss of his love for his wife.That’s what was astonishing to me. Every word he speaks of the loss of his wife shows the affliction he has every single minute of this life. His only prayer to god today is to take him to her.
It was painful to understand the thoughts that went through his mind when his wife was in death bed. She suffered a lot it seems. She had to be on strong Antibiotics which affected her Kidney and heart. Gil has a gun. He told me that he even thought of taking the gun to the hospital where his wife was admitted, to end her life and his ,and end the sufferings of both altogether.His religious faith did not let him do that. Such unfathomable depths of pain cannot be described here in words. There are few questions I asked him and he explained. I wanted to know what was that binding them together for 55 years or than the 55 years of life together, I wanted him to explain what she did to make him miss her every single minute long after she is gone. He said,” we just led a simple life. Whatever I got from her was a gift to me. I never expected anything from her. She did the same. We never had expectation from each other. As a man I brought money to run the family. She took care of the family.” and some more. We had a nice chat. He is one person who can understand people little more easily I think. I am sure I will meet him again and will talk to him more. Sure I have a lot to learn from him.
We have all read the quotes that goes around…” If you get an opportunity to rewind your life, will you choose the same person as your spouse again?”…..If one has to think here….Sorry……!!!! But after talking this great man, I had a little different thought…”If you get an opportunity to rewind your life,will you take every effort to be the right spouse this time?”