Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On Old long syne.
On Old long syne my Jo,
On Old long syne,
That thou canst never once reflect,
On Old long syne.
As we spent our 51st New Years Eve together we thought it might be good to visit the song/poem that is credited to Robert Burns but was likely first written by James Watson in 1711 with an adaptation by Burns.
While this is often sung at more events than New Years Eve and is usually associated with friendships, it might serve as an opportunity to revisit our marriage relationships. We spent our first New Years Eve together at a dance hall called Crystal Ball with Bob’s friend, who was the best man in our wedding, and his date. Unfortunately neither of us can remember who she was since Glenn has been happily married for forty plus years to Pat. We have done a variety of things on other New Years Eves, including private parties and evenings at home with others. When the children were small we sometimes brought in the new year cuddling in front of the fire and sometimes I slept the New Year in. The last ten or more we have brought in with some of our children. This last one we spent with Michael and Stacey and their children. We played a game of Scrabble as we shared food and watched ABC in Chicago’s count down to the New Year (lame). We shared a Champaign toast and then headed to bed not long after.
While we have never been very good dancers, I remember those dances we often attended before we were married as great times together. Dancing gave me the opportunity to hold Rita close and enjoy being physically present to each other. I always loved (and still do) when she would put her hand on the back of my neck and I could feel her love for me through her warm hand. After all these years her little pats and quick kisses as we go about our days still give me a warm glow.
More than how the evening is spent are the things I remember about the years that have come and gone in the fifty one we have spent together. Bob still has that zest for life he had at the first one. I still enjoy dancing with him and have him hold me as we do so. We have added to our life four children and soon we will have four children by marriage. In addition we have seven grandchildren. More important are the things we have learned about each other and how that has enhanced our relationship. Most important, above all, in the impact it had on our relationship, is the Marriage Encounter Weekend we experienced when we were married seven years (forty years ago in a couple of weeks). It taught us a way to communicate that has affected every aspect of our relationship and continues to do so to today. We both have had wonderful careers in the teaching world, touching the lives of young people in many ways, both with the subjects we taught and by speaking of and letting them experience our relationship. We were parts of presenting teams on numerous retreats both for married couples and priests and teens as well as workshops and enrichment days. On all of this we learned more about ourselves as we shared our life story with others.
The annual holiday season, ending with the New Years Eve celebration have given me/us many memories of the good things that God has given us. All of our children, in-law children and grandchildren are a great source of joy to me and remind me of how blessed I am. I had a special privilege this season. A couple of our granddaughters were around me when someone decided to take a picture. Rather quickly others started to gather around and I found myself surrounded by Rita, our daughter and daughters-in-law and all of our granddaughters. How blessed must a man be to be surrounded by ten women who love him. I call the picture “Grandpa’s Girls”.
Over the years there have been many others who have loved us, have held us when we were hurting and have provided us with private opportunities to laugh and cry and reveal our inner hurts, confident that they would still love us. When we are dealing with situations in jobs or in other difficult situations, it is wonderful to have the other as a place to let off steam, confident that we will be loved through the difficulties.
We never forget the moments of intimacy that we have shared that have allowed us laugh, cry together, and learn to forgive and heal. These events include the deaths of our parents and other friends and loved ones. We have found ways to help each other deal with hurts and have learned to both laugh and cry together. We have discovered things about ourselves and have grown in faith and our relationship with God.
Writing a book together and writing these posts each week are part of the things we can never forget. They are brought to mind when we talk to others and they comment on our email addresses (Rita@thewonderofmarriage.com), when we do workshops or days of renewal, and each week when we write. All provide us with opportunities to rekindle old flames of love which might have been dimmed in the past and may have seemed to be gone.
Writing the book and now the blogs has forced us into looking at ourselves realistically and in doing so we have learned much about ourselves and each other. I have learned how much Rita loves me and how I can love her. It gives us the opportunity to see how we have grown, separately and together, and to see where we can grow next to keep our lives interesting and fun. We have learned new ways to grow in intimacy. We look ahead to a future of being lovers.
Retiring together has brought us new opportunities to create our Sweet Hearts anew so that they will never grow cold and then strengthen the love between us as we continue to face things in the aging process that we have never had to face before. The best part of this time in our lives is that it allows us to reflect on where we have come from and where we want to continue to go. There is much to remember in “Auld lang syne.”
So many people are part of those fifty one years that we could never recognize them all. But they are old acquaintances that are frequently brought to mind and while not remembered everyday they are brought to mind sometimes at moments we least expect. It might be something we are writing about, a picture, a Christmas ornament, a letter or note that I find tucked away.
2013 was a year of getting reacquainted with people who were once important to us but had slipped into the background as our lives took us in different directions. It is a joy and a comfort to once again have them in our lives. We used to joke with some of them about growing old together and now we find some of those visions coming true, although in ways we had not expected. It is a joy to find that they can, as they did in the past, give us support and comfort and courage to face the future.
Take a little time this month, before the time passes, to revisit old acquaintances so that you might never forget the people who have been part of your life, but more importantly, in the things you have tucked away that might bring life to the flames of love that may have dimmed. Warm up your hearts or parts of them that may have grown cold. Reflect on who you are and where you want to go together so that you can share your loving hearts with each other. .. for “auld lang syne.”
Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:
Bob & Rita’s book: Forever and Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us. Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time. Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.