Monday, September 25, 2017

Married! And Boy, Was I Wrong!!

Grandson Hudson's artistic depiction of our wedding
I was wrong and I have no problem admitting it. I truly thought that getting married wouldn't make things any different between Sheila & me. More about this later, but, I was wrong ...

It was a nearly ... no, not nearly ... it WAS a perfect day in every possible way. Miramar Beach, Florida is as close to beach perfection as it can possibly be with beautiful white sand beaches, almost transparent water, and a general "kick back & relax" atmosphere. Shauna, James & the kids were there, as were Bruce and Linda along with Laura & Lord who traveled down from NYC. The weather couldn't have been any more perfect, temps in the high '70's at 6:00 pm and another fantastic sunset underway.

And Sheila, looking happy and beautiful, with tears in her eyes the entire time, joined me in making a commitment to a lifetime together! It was a small service, just 11 people, and just the way we wanted it. The focus was on the moment, not encumbered by any need to entertain a large crowd or worry about catering or photographers or live music. We really wanted to enjoy the ceremony and not have to get stuck in "coordination mode".
The wedding party, l to r:
Bruce. Linda, Carter, me, Sheila, Audrey, James, Hudson, Shauna Laura, Lord

Lord is an ordained minister and performed the service for us. It was really comforting to have a family member "in charge" of the actual ceremony, knowing that he would keep us on track ... he did a wonderful job!  Carter handled the photography for us (Carter is a great photographer, videographer and vlogger), and Sheila is so happy that her grandson was able to be such a big part of the event.
Sheila, still beautiful even when wind blasted

The wind decided to kick it up a notch just before the ceremony started. Some creative positioning allowed for generally great poses, and even those that were a bit wind blown came out great! For some reason, the beach was not loaded with semi-naked swimmers so the pictures don’t need a lot of photo-shopping. Truthfully, neither of us noticed anything other than each other and the ceremony itself ... it was cool to watch a video of the ceremony and see what was going on around us.

The day was perfect, the ceremony was perfect, Sheila was perfect, even I was perfect (for a change) (hey, even a broken clock shows the right time at least once a day) and our wedding was simply beautiful in every way! Surrounded by people we love, sharing our joy with them just as they shared our sorrows with us when we lost Frank and Bunny, vowing to honor each other as we start our brand new life together, we couldn't ask for a better start to our marriage!

I said at the start of this post that I was wrong, that I didn't think marriage would change anything between us, and I meant it. I never expected to be even more in love with Sheila than I am, yet now, a few days after the wedding, I do love her more. I never expected to be more proud of her, yet here I am, busting with pride over the fact that the wonderful soul is my wife. I never expected the emotional "tears in my eyes" to continue to well up at the thought that this beautiful woman was willing to make the lifetime commitment to stay with me forever. I never expected to feel differently after the vows, but I do.
Our "unofficial"official wedding pic

This is also, in many ways, the end of this part of the story. What started out as a blog dedicated to the memory of one deeply rooted spirit has evolved into the unveiling of another vibrant force in my life, injecting even more meaning and love into my soul than I ever thought possible. And I thank you all, truly, from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to share this life evolution with you. I never expected to have so many people reading this blog and I'm humbled by the many kind words you have given me.

Of course, being the Jersey-bred blabbermouth that I am, the writing will continue. I am in the process of converting the blog over to a new/larger/better hosting service which will allow for expanded coverage and more content. I expect this to take a few weeks as I sort out how to get that done, but I promise to keep you all updated with my progress. For those that subscribe to the blog, you'll be sent the new information as soon as it is finalized. For those that receive the information via various social media services, you should be able to continue to view the blog in the same manner as you have up to this date.

If you want to be sure to stay linked to the blog, please feel free to send an email to me at with the word "subscribe" in the title ... we'll be sure to keep you updated.

Sheila and I both thank you all for your amazing support!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Almost Married!!

Sheila, contemplating

Getting very, very close now ... just two short weeks away from being married to this beautiful woman and I can't wait to have it become official! Not that anything particularly unusual will take place after we're married, nor do I expect any unusual stuff to suddenly crop up. Pretty much everything we have/know/do as individuals the other person already has/knows/does as well, so we're not anticipating some sudden awakening.

"So, why the big deal with getting married?", a question posed to me by a musician friend last week. He was trying to figure why, after we both had divorces and have both been widowed, why would we feel the need to be married? It's a legitimate question, particularly coming from someone who has not had the good fortune to have had a successful relationship come to fruition. Despite our early individual marriage stumbles, both Sheila and I had good, positive, loving experiences with our deceased spouses.

Nope, we don't need materialistic things from each other; we're both able to get along on our own, although if truth be told it will be a bit easier when we combine our resources. But money and possessions are absolutely NOT a driver in our decision to become "legal"; we could both be quite self-sufficient. The one thing that will be somewhat unbalanced is my encroaching on Sheila's home (we had considered keeping my Jersey house as a "vacation" home, but that whole idea was too preposterous to be actually considered) (one does not have a vacation home in Central Jersey if it's not at the Shore), but over the past year I have junked this place up enough with my own stuff so it actually FEELS like it's my home ... Sheila frequently wonders how she lost control of her own home, but she's willing to make that sacrifice.

I bought a pretty expensive "fancy" car kind of early on in our 'living together" arrangement ... at first it was my car, but now it's just the "big car" (as compared to her "little car") (embarrassingly, both of them are from Lexus) (but the little one is 10 years old) and Sheila drives it as much as I do. And pretty early on I started paying for the routine household expenses and maintenance, so it has sort of morphed into a "we" arrangement with most of our possessions. So, no reason to get married because of material gain on either of our parts.

I can, and do, help out around the house a lot. I do most of the shopping, meal planning and preparation, primarily because Sheila still works. She is the far superior cook, but I'm enjoying the learning process and every now and then I kind of surprise both of us with a pretty darn good meal. When it comes down to crunch time for meal preparation for guests or a party, Sheila is totally in charge and I'm just the assistant. And household tasks like cleaning and minor maintenance kind of get split up between us ... we do our laundry separately, but mostly because Sheila has pretty things that I could destroy in a wash if co-mingled with my nasty's, so better safe than sorry. 

My Georgia family

Sheila has a large, beautiful family within 30 minutes of our home. Actually, daughter Shauna and family (SIL James and three grandkids) live RIGHT-ACROSS-THE-STREET from us (caps accentuated not due to any kind of problem, but accentuated due to the coolness of it all) (seriously), which is all kinds of great by itself. Had I stayed in Jersey, I have a really large (really large) (really) family up there, plus Laura (my beautiful daughter for those who don't typically read this blog) lives in Jersey. So neither one of us NEEDED to be married to prevent becoming hermits.

Now, let's see where we are:

  • It's not because of money
  • It's not because of possessions
  • It's not because of chores/tasks
  • It's not because of loneliness
Hmm, what's left? Could it be love?

Yup, that's it, plain and simple ... good old happy, goofy, romantic, funny, joyful, supportive, emotional-lean-on-the-shoulder love. One of the big benefits of getting older is that you have already sorted through all of the B.S. with relationships and you can tell the difference between infatuation, a fling, casual dating, looking for company, and actually being in love! 

Yes, we're positive that ALL of our family and friends thought we were full-blown nuts when we began getting super serious, super fast after our spouses died within 2 weeks of each other. And we can understand how odd that might have seemed at the time, and why so many would question the motives involved here. But now, well over a year later and on the verge of getting married, we're guessing everyone who really knows us can fully understand why we are doing what we're doing.

Sheila edits all of my posts before they get onto the blog, that's one of the reasons this gaggle of words even makes any sense at all. When reviewing this posting, Sheila offered this comment; "I want to be married to you because I want to be a single unit, one entity, with you." That concise statement is perfect, we want to be united, to be fully together. We don't want to be married for the sake of marriage. When our worlds fell apart in the Spring of 2016, neither one of us ever thought we would be married again. 

I don't want to call Sheila my "girlfriend" or my "significant other" or my "partner" or any of the other polite titles people bestow upon unmarried people living together. While Sheila is ALL of those things, I can't wait until she is my wife. Perhaps it's the sense of legitimacy that the noun "wife" imposes, or maybe even the sense of "pride of ownership" (sorry, I know that probably sounds crude but I hope you know what I mean) I feel when I'm with her ... I am crazy proud of her in so many ways ... that makes marriage so important to me/us (BTW, all of that applies to Sheila as well since she feels exactly the same way).

Or maybe we're just old-fashioned, but being married is important to both of us. And it's the real deal, this marriage we're planning, something that will be permanent and loving and important to us until the end of time. We're having a very small ceremony with some family only, no big splashy event or big hoopla, just a simple ceremony on the beach at sunset surrounded by people we love.

On September 19th Sheila and I will be united and become one single unit, one entity. I can't wait to be married to Sheila, and the next time I write we will be together forever!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Family Roots

The Goode Kids ... clockwise, Mike, Buzz, me, Tom, Barb, Frank, about 1966

I'm one of 6 kids in my family, #2 in the sequence of Goode progeny (I used that word after my older brother threw it up on social media one day ... I don't want him to think he's smarter than me). Five boys and one girl, with 4 years between my older bro and me, then two years between each successive kid.

There are varying stories behind the 4 then 2 then 2 then 2 then 2 then 2 theme. The two most prevalent are:
  1. (from my oldest brother, Buzz) that after he was born Mom & Dad thought they would never have such a perfect baby again and it took them 4 years to work up the courage to try again, and;
  2. (from yours truly, #2 in line) that after Buzz was born it was so traumatic and horrifying that they had to wait 4 years to over come the sheer terror of it all. And then after I was born I was so fantastic that they couldn't wait to keep trying to get another baby as good as me.
In all likelihood the truth is neither of those things, but we continue to banter about the options whenever we get together. In fact, Mom always told me I was the best one of the kids, that is indisputable (as far as I'm concerned). On that point I believe we all agree!

We grew up poor, although we never realized we were poor until later on in life. In our neighborhood pretty much everyone was on the lower end of the money spectrum, so it wasn't immediately noticeable to a little kid. We did a lot of clothes sharing/passing down, so much so that by the time it got to kid #4 Mom & Dad probably had to get some new stuff. Of course, my sister, Barbara, always had her own new stuff since she was the only girl of the bunch ... and she had her own room, too!
Fuzzy pic of the Goode family
The reason for all of these "remembrances" is directly related to two big occasions. My older/oldest brother Buzz and my aforementioned sister Barbara were both born on August 24th, 10 years apart. And this year they both celebrated "big'" birthdays (I'm not going to say how old they are, but I'm 66 ... 4 years younger than Buzz and 6 years older than Barb ... you can do the math). And with these two landmarks arriving in 2017, it has made me wonder how the heck we got to this age in the first place?

When we were kids our grandparents looked to be about 150 years old, generally hunched over and either very plainly dressed or wearing some of the most embarrassing clothes known to man (black socks, shorts and some kind of plaid dress shirt, for example) (most Grandma's in my youth wore house dresses). They most certainly did not look young, like we do today. Of course, that doesn't mean our grandkids don't feel exactly as we did in our youth, but I'd like to believe that we are a bit cooler than our grandparents were.

Every one of us Goode kids is an official "baby boomer", all born into the blossoming population growth period following WWII. Dad was in the war, but he rarely talked about it ... we know he was a sergeant and spent time in the European theatre, but that's about it. A couple of the boys followed Dad into the service; Buzz joined the Air Force during the Vietnam War period, Mike (#4) was in the Army stationed overseas in Germany, and Frank (#6, youngest) was also an Air Force guy serving stateside. I actually wanted to go into the service, specifically the Army so I could play in the Army band, but I had bad knees and was 4F. Tom (#3) never served, and Barb (#5), never served but married a career serviceman/government agent, so she put in her time in a different way.

Goode kids at my 60th birthday
Buzz, me, Tom, Mike, Barb, Frank
Look at the gut on me! About 100 pounds ago!
As I take this double celebration time to look back, we all did okay ... perhaps some better than others but we have been blessed with large families and generally good health. Buzz lost his wife Eileen very early on and had to raise two little girls on his own (his daughters have grown into wonderful women, and Buzz is a grandfather to 1 and soon to be grandfather to twins). I have two children from my 1st marriage (son Steve committed suicide in 2005. Daughter Laura, who is regularly referenced here in this blog, is going to be 45 ... WTF *&!!??*#????!!), a 35 year marriage to Bunny who passed away in 2016, and as you all know I will be married to Sheila on September 19th. Tom is a father to two sons from his first marriage, has been married to Lil for what seems to be forever, and is grandfather to a boy and girl, along with multiple step-kids and grandkids. Mike suffered several losses along the way but is now married to Nicki and also has multiple step-kids and grandkids. Barbara is mother to three children, has been married to Alan since the start of time, and is a grandmother to 5. Frank has been married to Jill a looonnnggg time and has two grown children. Everyone seems happy and our family gatherings, when we include all of the spouses, step kids, in-laws and other associated family members, are quite large and somewhat unmanageable. 

When we were kids things were always done a certain way. Dinner was always served at 6 pm (don't be late or you'll go hungry!), Gram (my maternal grandmother who lived with us my whole childhood) always served tea and toast at 9 pm, Sunday was church day (Dad drove us to church in Newark but rarely went into the building) (be sure to take off your good shoes when you got home), Thanksgiving was always at Mom and Dad's (Gram would always wash the dishes, no matter how many people and subsequent dishes there were), every Christmas you would get an orange in the toe of your stocking and a small box of crayons (we would melt the crayons on the steam radiators ... I don't ever remember being yelled at for doing that), and later on when everyone was grown up and married, I would call Mom every Sunday, without fail.

These traditions/rituals made all of us Goode kids the people we are today. Coming from poor but hard working parents instilled a sense of responsibility in all of us, along with a deep work ethic. I can't say I was a great parent, but whatever good I did for Laura and Steven comes directly from the lessons learned and the traditions set by my family. And I see the same thing with my siblings.

The cleaned up version
Now, as a 66 year old who is blessed to be living here in Georgia with Sheila, I have sort-of acquired an extended family of my own. Sheila has two sisters and accompanying B-I-L's, three kids (one sadly passed away before he was 30, a rotten commonality Sheila and I share), a daughter in law & a son in law, 5 grandkids and some nieces/nephews. I have a whole new generation of kids that I can now embarrass with my version of black socks, shorts and a plaid shirt. I only hope I can provide to them what my own parents provided to my kids, help to teach them life lessons about family, tradition, respect and love.

So, on this double-big-birthday occasion, Happy Birthdays to both Buzz and Barb! Can you believe we ever made it this far? 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Greensboro, Friends & Beautiful Fiancee's

Lake Oconee

We spent the weekend in Greensboro GA with Sheila’s friend/boss at his (OMG!!) (WTF??) (Really!?) (Holy Cow!!) b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l home in Harbor Club on Lake Oconee. As you might surmise, the house is fantastic! I told Sheila, “This is easily the cleanest home I have ever been in”, and she said, “It really is spotless and beautiful, isn’t it?”, but I could tell by her innuendo that she was thinking, either:

  1. "our house could be this clean if you didn’t have so many unemployed musicians in it every week”, or;
  2. "our house could be this clean if your make-believe dog wasn’t such a PITA”, or;
  3. “our house could be this clean if YOU would clean it”

I’m pretty sure that list could continue on for quite a while, but I’ll just let that drift away for the time being.

We stopped enroute to pick up Sheila’s friend/co-worker Val and her boyfriend at her home in Roswell, then headed east. For some who-the-heck-knows reason there was almost no traffic going through Atlanta (what? … I know, right? There is ALWAYS traffic in the ATL) (as a reminder, if you’re new: I’m going to refer to Atlanta most times as “The ATL”, it’s the hip thing to do, or so I’m told) so we made great time. Val suggested we stop in a town called Madison for a bite to eat since we were running a bit early.

Madison is a pretty little town with some very historic buildings. That, in and of itself, is remarkable since Georgia doesn’t have too much concern for historic structures, routinely knocking crap down to build new, shiny things that the hipsters can “ooh” and “aah” at with reckless abandon. 

Now, according to Sheila, it’s all Sherman’s fault for his march through Georgia when he torched the entire state as they marched (Sheila really dislikes Sherman) (odd, since Sheila grew up in California eating pizza with avocados and sprouts) (pretty sure Sherman didn’t have avocados OR sprouts), thereby creating this “screw history” attitude that seems to exist here in Georgia. To be completely fair, Sheila does have southern roots … her Great-Great-Grandfather fought for the South and was wounded in the Battle of Shiloh, and ultimately died from wounds suffered in the Battle of Shiloh (of course, that was probably 74 years later, but who’s counting) … so her indignation with “Uncle Billy” (the troops called Sherman that) is somewhat understandable.

The WWI Doughboy ... figured I'd ease the Sherman tension with an unrelated war

But anyway, Madison somehow avoided being infected with Sherman-itis (not to mention avocados) and kept a lot of their old buildings, creating a beautiful southern-looking town. We had lunch at a little coffee shop that also had sandwiches, where the service was warm and the food was good … but everything was done at a snail’s pace and the 13-item menu seemed to be overwhelming to the sweet lady who waited on us. Dan (Val’s boyfriend) and I had two semi-similar sandwiches and I’m not sure if I ate the right one or not, but it was very tasty and my digestive tract had plenty of time to work on the processing while we waited for a check. By the time Dan paid (somehow I out-fumbled him for the check 😊) my meal was well on its way to being completely digested.
Madison Courthouse
We did take a quick walk around town (not too long … due to the dirge-like service pace we were now running late) and noted that anything representing a retail environment was closed (this is a Saturday at noon, BTW), so I’m guessing the exchange of cash isn’t a high priority in Madison GA. But the buildings were really nice and I can see a day in the not too distant future where Madison GA will be the cool place to be.

We ventured on to Greensboro, where Sheila’s friend (and boss, too, but they’ve worked together forever) Jeff and his wife Peg have their sort-of vacation home. If I haven’t already said it, OMG, what a beautiful home! Very spacious sitting right on Lake Oconee with a 5-boat dock (replete with lifts), a cool dock surface, wonderfully landscaped property … the very picture of relaxation and peace. This is a pic of the neighbor across the cove ... I’m not posting any pics of Jeff & Peg’s house so the miscreants in Jersey that read this blog can come down here and rip them off  ... (oops, did I write that out loud?) (didn't mean to besmirch the character of my former Jersey brethern) (let me try that again) … I’m not posting any pics of Jeff & Peg’s house so the stellar folks in Jersey that read this blog don’t feel jealous (there, that’s better).

Not Jeff's house

Jeff and Peg took us for a boat ride around Lake Oconee. That lake is HUGE, just about 30 square miles. It was created in the late ‘70’s by the local power utility to work in conjunction with a dam, so as a result all of the land immediately abutting the water surface is owned by Georgia Power and leased to the residents. Unfortunately for Jeff/Peg, the bulkhead is NOT owned by GP … in keeping with the trends of all public utilities, if it is going to cost money you’re paying for it, not the utility. But Jeff explained that, since their property is located in a cove, the bulkhead doesn’t get battered by waves from speeding boats and jet skis and subsequently it’s in pretty good shape.

Jeff - boss, friend, boat captain
It’s always a little awkward for me in these types of settings at first. Frank, Sheila’s husband who passed away a few weeks after Bunny, was a gregarious and outgoing guy who was always well liked, so while I don’t necessarily feel the need to “compete” in any way, I’m always super cognizant of the fact that these are Sheila’s long-term friends (and in this case, co-workers and THE BOSS) and I can’t just be all, you know, uhh … Jersey …   But in this instance, Jeff & Peg and Val & Dan (sounds like some horrible rom-com from ‘80’s, doesn’t it?) were incredibly gracious and welcoming and tolerated my slowly developing Georgia mannerism re-boot.

After a tour of Lake Oconee, which included some lake swimming off of the boat (Jeff cautioned everyone not to dive head-first off the boat) (it’s a man-made lake and anything could be below the, at times, shallow water depth). Neither Sheila nor I participated in the off-the-boat swimming; we had both, independently, come to the conclusion that we weren’t going to do anything that had even a remote possibility of damaging a body part (Jeff: “Don’t jump head-first off the boat, you could easily be impaled on a used-to-be pine tree trunk in some shallow parts”) before we get married … I guess the innuendo is that once we’re married who really cares if stuff breaks or not … plus, I’m the whitest white man since Johnny Winter (who? I can just hear everyone under the age of 50 hitting the Google search pages) and Sheila isn’t very far behind me, pigment-wise. (but why is her skin sooo pretty and mine sooo pasty?) We don’t need to be beet red and peeling while saying “I Do”.

Peg, Dan and Val not impaled on tree trunks
After a beautiful afternoon on the water and relaxing with adult beverages (I did partake in the adult beverages), we were treated to a wonderful meal prepared by Peg (really, truly wonderful!!) and then spent the evening at a local marina off the lake listening to live music and enjoying the end of a really coolio day! These folks are all extremely nice and, BTW, very intelligent, which is always a challenge for me to keep up with conversations regarding, for example, “sustainability” (FYI, they all seriously disliked the over-use of the term) (I was busy wiping spittle off my chin and contemplating the oddity of toe hair) (Sheila was busy looking through her contacts list for a replacement fiancée) (there is a guy in there named Sergio … I really gotta get rid of that guy).

I’ve come to realize that Sheila’s friends, whether work related or otherwise, are all extremely nice. I can’t think of a single one of them that I find to be a drag. Sheila has liked all of my friends, but I’ve been careful to only introduce her to my friends that I know chew with their mouth closed. And her friends always seem interested in my musical background, which is somewhat unique to most people who may never have seen a professional musician live and in person at their dining room table. Kind of like looking at a slug and wondering “How to they move like that and why do they leave a slime trail?” j/k, they were very gracious and friendly and didn’t hold my musical proclivities against me. (Okay … yes, I had to look up “proclivities” … but I had to call Laura first to tell me how to spell it) (Laura is another smarty-pants) (Laura=daughter, if you’re new here)

Sunday morning Peg served up a knock-out breakfast! It’s amazing how effortlessly she put these beautiful and delicious meals together, since she always seemed to be sitting with us without any prolonged absences. When I cook it takes about 4 days to get my ingredients together, then I have to bug Sheila about 20 times while cooking it, the stove is always a mess, dogs begging at my feet, food all over the place, garbage bag getting constantly changed, honestly, it’s a disaster! Peg just kind of floated past the kitchen, I think she might have twitched her nose like Samantha on Bewitched (again, the sounds of Google-searching are likely going on right now), and Bam! … Here’s some delicious food!

The weekend was great and I’m so appreciative of the generosity and kindness shown me by Sheila’s circle of peeps.  It’s all a part of the wonderment that is Sheila and makes me even more aware of the level of my good fortune in meeting this pure soul.

As an aside, when I first began speaking with Sheila she told me she was a “very private person” and “didn’t like having her personal information displayed” for everyone to see. Well, clearly, that goal has been smashed to pieces! I guess those are the perils of falling in love with a Jersey musician who also happens to be a blabbermouth. Yet somehow this beautiful woman continues to keep me around … is there anyone more blessed than me?

Monday, August 7, 2017

From Mine & Yours to Ours

Most of the people that read this blather I call a blog (and that's quite a hefty number, surprisingly) are either old, like me, or at least in a pretty long term relationship (no, not 4 months ... real long term, like years and years) (when did dating for 4 months start to become so meaningful?) (sure, it's nice and all, but it's just dating, right?). So, most of you probably don't remember the start of your relationship and the setting up of ground rules. I certainly didn't ...

Somewhere along the line things went from "mine" and "yours" to "ours" around here. It wasn't purposeful or intentional, we didn't have any long discussions about it, no deep soul searching or extended introspective. It just, one day, was now "ours".

I moved in with Sheila in October last year. Now, for that, we had many long discussions! We weighed the pros (waayyy to many to list here) and the cons (truthfully, couldn't come up with even one) ... Even tried out the old "Devils Advocate" routine, trying to find a reason to not live together. But it just made sense to both of us, so I relocated to Georgia.

Then the reality of having some formerly grumpy Jersey guy living with you started to settle in with Sheila (and I say formerly, because since arriving in Georgia my disposition did a 180) (by 180, I mean a complete turnaround) (explanation provided for the mathematically challenged) . Here's a short list of things she didn't expect:
  • Ownership of a dumb dog
No, really ... not smart
  • Loss of nearly the entire lower level of the house to musical instruments
Take-over includes supply of old rockers
  • Never ending Jersey chatter
Chatter includes things like "guh-head" instead of "go ahead"
  • Constant companionship

Now, in fairness to me, I had to make some adjustments as well:

  •  Ownership of the sweetest dog in the State of Georgia
Seriously, sweet ... polar opposite of the other simpleton
  • Tasked with filling the lower level of the house with musical instruments
    Truthfully, it wasn't too hard to find out-of-work musicians
  • Getting lozenges to keep my voice from getting hoarse
  • Getting used to always having something to do

So, as you can see, we BOTH needed to make some sacrifices. I have a feeling I got the better half of the bargain ....

As we settled into life as a couple some things just naturally developed. A few of them we actually discussed in advance, a few just seemed to morph into the way things are today. For example, we had a real discussion about finances and how to handle things. Luckily for both of us, our money issues are non-issues (we both have been very fortunate in that regard) so it was pretty easy to come to an agreement as to how to handle our routine expenses.  We also discussed the mundane, like cooking and housework, and came to an agreement of sorts about how we would divvy up those tasks ( I do most of the everyday cooking, since I'm retired and Sheila still works) (and I'm learning to become more proficient in the kitchen) (Sheila takes over for the important meals, though).

When we had these "daily life" talks it was always "You do this, I'll do that", a specific set of rules, for lack of a better term ... Maybe guidelines is a bit more appropriate than rules, but you get the idea. "This" was mine, "That" was hers, and we slowly began to have some "ours" start to creep into our lives. One of the very first examples came after Sheila took me to a local auction house, where we bought about $300 worth of stuff and kind of split the cost between us. One of the items we bought was our (see? "Our" not mine/yours) snail vase. Somehow, this snail vase became the first, real tangible thing we could call "ours".
Don't make fun of the snail vase or the dope holding it

One of the things we had decided pretty early on in our relationship and subsequent decision to live together was that family, to include our departed spouses, would always play a huge part in our lives. To that end, we have pictures of family (past and present) throughout our house (see, this is what I mean ... for the longest time it was Sheila's house, but now it's our house) (same goes for the Spotswood NJ house ... it was "my" house, but now we're selling "our" NJ house). So slowly, family pics began to intertwine between clans, with it now simply being "family" pictures.

Our bedroom has a sizable walk-in closet and when I moved down Sheila cleared a space for me to put my 5 shirts and three pairs of jeans (j/k, she left enough room for 8 shirts), but as time went by we started to do our laundry together (just T-shirts at first, then jeans, and eventually co-mingled our underwear). We still have some laundry boundaries, mostly because Sheila is frilly and I'm, decidedly, not frilly, so we have to be careful to not destroy her stuff. But for the most part, the walk-in closet is now "ours".

As we started traveling together, some vacation and some business, we began to collect little momento's of the trips. These collectibles were beginning to get scattered throughout the house. When company would ask, "Where did you get that?" the answer started to become "WE got that in Savannah/Memphis/NYC/Vancouver/wherever". Yes, there are still some things (quite a few, actually) that are distinctly Sheila's or mine, but even there, we now both know how the item or momento was gathered and talk about these things in a joint-possessive tone rather than "That was hers/his".

As Sheila and I talked about this very topic, leading into the writing of this blog post, we both realized that the hard-core definitive start of "ours" was when we got engaged. And in reality, absolutely NOTHING changed in our day-to-day lives, except that Sheila was no longer my "girlfriend", I was no longer her "significant other" ... we were now engaged and she was my fiance.  But the finances? Still the same. Chores? Still the same. Closet space? Well, that's a losing battle for me, I waved the white flag of surrender and gave up any thoughts of hanging more than 10 shirts, 1 suit and three pairs of pants (I did, however, gain a complete 6 drawer chest and 1 nightstand).

Somehow, though, that simple "Yes, I will marry you" lapse of judgement on Sheila's part was the significant turning point to "ours", where suddenly everything became a joint custody arrangement. We sold two (nice) Bose SoundTouch systems on Ebay that I had owned for years before meeting Sheila, but the sale was ours, not mine. In kind, Sheila has had a fantastic Sonos sound system in the house for years, but that system is now mine as much as it is hers. I can't fully explain how that happened, but it did.

And we still have a few things that are not in the "ours" category, like some savings set aside for the kids (note to children: It's not all that much, please don't get rid of us while we're sleeping) and some rental properties Sheila owns. When you have more than 60 years under your belt BEFORE you meet there are bound to be some things that remain separate, but in general, all of our stuff is now mushed up in one big pile. 

We're getting married on September 19th in Destin Florida, on the beach, at sunset, during a small and intimate service, surrounded by immediate family. Lord, Laura's long term (seriously, years, not 4 months) sig other, is an ordained minister and will be performing the service. Sheila will, undoubtedly, be crying the whole time ... it's already been decided that I will say our vows for both of us. The adults who will be at the service are all "Ours"-type couples, in long term (really, not 4 months, but years) relationships, married and otherwise.They are all family and Sheila and I both look forward to officially joining the "ours" couples that will be celebrating with us.

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