Posted in Learning, Life

For richer or poorer …

In a throw-away society, it’s affirming to witness things that last; that endure; that go on … that despite setbacks and difficulties and challenges, keep going.

Fads come and go … fads in fashion and food and where to go for coffee. One day ‘this’ place is in favour and you wait half an hour for a table (if you’re lucky and if you can be bothered waiting), and the next day it’s empty; tumbleweeds blow through eyeing the perplexed owner with disdain as he sits with his head in his hands wondering what on earth went wrong. The tumbleweed has no answer and blows right through to the place next door which, at this very moment, has a queue of people out the door, all prepared to wait at least half an hour for just the right blend of MoroccanBrazilianHighlandofNewGuineaUnderwaterPoland coffee that’s suddenly all the rage.

Big hair is in; then it’s out. Shoulder pads come and go, more or less subtle at each reincarnation. The ripped jeans that I wore in the 70s are back, this time with more rip and less jean. I’m waiting for a resurgence of the gozunder – the pot that’s squished into the under-bed space, along with the bulbs waiting for planting, and the kids’ Christmas presents.

And then there’s marriage. It seems to go in and out of favour, depending on which celebrity endorses (or trashes) it. And most of the marriages we hear about – the ones featured in magazines, not the ordinary ones we live – don’t last. We seem surprised when they do, or maybe we just don’t hear about them very often and because it seems so usual to hear about the ones that fail we are surprised to hear of the ones that don’t.

But weddings still happen and marriages are still celebrated. My son Daniel and his wife Cathy just celebrated their first wedding anniversary. Tim and I have just celebrated our fourth.

And yesterday, my parents, Noel and Sheila Pittaway, celebrated their 56th.

Yes, 56 years together. Through richer and poorer; in sickness and in health. They’ve been together through the tough times and the good times. Through the Navy years and the many years since then: learning to live together after sometimes months at a time living apart. Through the business years driving up and down the coast, and helping people make happy travel memories. Through their own times spent travelling and living overseas. Through the work years and the retirement years. Through living on the south and north coasts of NSW, into Queensland, and back to NSW. Through raising three (gorgeous) children, and welcoming a flurry of (gorgeous) grandchildren (ten at the last count), and the same number of (gorgeous) great-grandchildren (I don’t know how they keep up because I’m not sure I’ve counted them all) into the family.

At his wedding just over a year ago, Daniel (grandson number 2) paid his respects to his grandparents when he spoke about them in his speech, acknowledging their place in his life as role models – for their love and commitment to each other, and to their family.

It seems fitting then, that to celebrate their 56 years together they should spend the weekend with Daniel and his wife Cathy, together with other grandchildren: Eliza and her partner Shawn, and Chase and his wife Megan, along with two great-grandchildren, Hunter and Lily.

The younger generations, spending time with the family elders – learning what it is to work hard at what matters most, sharing quiet moments together, laughing, eating, doing the things families do. Celebrating those things that count.

Happy anniversary Mum and Dad. Still dancing after all these years!

Newlyweds Noel and Sheila Pittawaystill dancing
My sister wrote a beautiful tribute to Mum and Dad earlier in the week. In her post she said that ‘I love the fact that I am a part of them’. It’s a sentiment I share. Thanks for putting it so beautifully Deb.

Posted in Photography

Two years

There was a time, in the not too distant past, where I vowed and declared that I would never re-enter the institution of marriage.

Marriage wasn’t for me. It was an institution designed for the suppression of women, it was out-dated, it was no longer relevant for modern life, it was only for those who wanted to be tied to another by invisible but strong and deadening bonds.

Two years ago today I was tied to another by invisible but strong bonds in the sight of my family and closest friends.

Yes, I became married.

I was asked, around that time, whether I thought marriage would make any difference to a relationship that was non-traditional in one quite clear way (the age difference is very marked) but had never the less already made it past the five year mark.

At the time I wasn’t sure. Michelle seemed to think that being married was different from being together and I wondered if I would feel the same.

Is it different, being married to someone? Have the last two years differed in any significant way from the previous five?

Yes.

I like, despite thinking that I might feel otherwise, having a ‘husband’ – a person named up as such. It quite possibly has to do with the husband I have, but I do like it.

I like that I can signal to the world (through subtly flashing my wedding ring) that I am married. I like the security and comfort of that.

I also, despite thinking otherwise at other times, liked planning the wedding.

A wedding is something that you do partly for show. The wedding ceremony is just as much for others as it is for the couple – you show your commitment to each other in front of others who are important in your life. You get to ask the 12 year daughter of your best friend from high school if she will present the rings and so be an extra special part of the celebration. That can never be taken away. You get to hear your sister read a poem that has significance and meaning to you. You get to see your mum and dad with tears in their eyes because you look so beautiful and you look around the small gathering and see the faces of your adult children and your grandchildren and your extra special friends and your know that this is something they’re happy to be part of. And then you see your German sister on the laptop, Skyping in from Germany, and you feel thrilled that she can be part of it too. This big commitment, undertaken in a marquee in your own backyard and then celebrated upstairs in a room that looks divine, is significant because it’s shared.

Thinking back on that day, two years ago, I am particularly pleased that I changed my mind about marriage.

I like being married.

I mostly like being married because I’m married to Tim. He lets me be.