Married 50 Years and Never a Dull Moment by Betty Mason Arthurs
Yes, we’ve been married 50 years in June. I believe a few words sums up our marriage: Never a dull moment and plenty of dumb ones.
Our wedding vows, “’til death do us part, so help me God,” spoken on a boiling hot June day in Albion, New York in 1966,’ jump started us as two college sweethearts, a music student and nursing major, on a journey of a good and crazy love affair.
I calculated 365 days times 50 years and it comes out 18,250 days but I must add the days of leap year, which adds up to over 438,000 hours, which means we’ve shared 18,250 bedtime snacks and 2600 weeks of Sunday morning church. Gulp, that’s a lot of days to spend together, almost as many as Mr. and Mrs. Noah. Okay, I hear the groans of our eight grandchildren as they correct me with biblical truth. “Gammy, Noah was 600 years old, 219,000 days, when the flood came and after God’s gigantic Niagara Falls, he lived another 350 years. We don’t know how many years they were married.” I can hope Mrs. Noah liked animals and gully washers and grands.
Never a dull moment and plenty of dumb ones in 50 years is best told by how
we celebrated my husband’s early retirement by planning a two week dream trip from Phoenix in 2006 to England and Italy. Only one nasty glitch intruded into our lovely plans. John popped a small hernia two weeks before our departure date when he helped a friend move. “It’s not life threatening, continue on with your trip,” the surgeon reassured us and scheduled the repair as a welcome home event.
Combine a herniated husband with an arthritic wife, who can only carry her teensy purse, you can see the “dumb” lurking behind the “it’s not my fault the suitcase is the size of a refrigerator on wheels.” We were losing some excitement about our holiday across the pond. My poor groin-injured man also managed the briefcase with his laptop, a backpack with CDs, passports, my medications and snacks, tying all on to the rolling suitcase with flopping wheels.
We flew into Manchester and then took the train to the small town of Thirsk, James Herriot country. Fans of the All Creatures Great and Small books written in the 1970s, can imagine the excitement I felt checking into the ancient Three Tuns Hotel just down the street from my favorite author’s home and office. Alfred Wight, Herriot’s real name, started work as a veterinarian in the 1930s. Tomorrow we would tour the Skeldale house at 23 Kirkgate, now a museum.
The quaint hotel had no doorman or elevator so we dragged our luggage past the downstairs pub up the creaky stairs to our third story room. By now, in spite of my aches and pains, I was helping with the “can’t leave home without it” stuff. However, all grouchiness disappeared when we got to our quaint room with its lopsided doorway, cherry wood antique furniture and electric tea pot with assorted English tea bags. John flopped down on the lumpy bed and switched on CNN.
I looked out the window. “Isn’t this beautiful?” Even though John had traveled to England before, he agreed with me, Yorkshire was gorgeous country.
I filled the tea pot with water and plugged it in. Our cozy room had a tiny bathroom with a huge, ancient tub but no shower. I told John, “I haven’t taken a bath in years and I must do as the English do.” I tossed in the lavender salts from a pretty jar and sank into the tub. The hot water soothed my aching muscles and joints. But what do you do to get out of a tub when you’ve got arthritis and you have no railings to grasp and pull yourself out?
I yelled, “Johnny, help me. I can’t get out!” Did I mention, I was blonde as a baby?
He squeezed behind the tub in front of the heat radiator and towel rack, trying to grasp me below my wet armpits and gently pull me without aggravating my arthritic shoulders and his own bulging hernia. The bath salts had coated me in fragrant slime. There was no way he could get a good hold on me so I did my best to help by giggling while he groaned in pain.
I had to wonder what our neighbors thought of those seniors from America whooping it up next door; perhaps Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are here and they’ve got more on their minds than mail? Or maybe Lucy and Ricky Ricardo are having a Cuban tryst? Today in 2016, the hotel guests might think Lady Mary from Downton Abbey is behaving badly.
Amid the noise of my splashes, slippery squeaks and giggles, my frustrated hernia-plagued hero wrapped a towel around me and finally hefted me up and out. He wobbled out holding his side and collapsed on the bed.
We did wonder at breakfast if the staff and proper patrons were smirking at us, but maybe we were just being overly sensitive. I won’t mention what happened in London or the fall I took in Milan, Italy which aggravated John’s hernia up to ten on the trickster scale since he was holding my hand and saved me.
What can I say? Mishaps fit in with “never a dull moment and plenty of dumb ones” for our 50 years together, while loving God and each other “through sickness and health, tears and laughter.” We’re the best traveling companions if it’s only to the grocery store for crackers and prune juice, so help me God!