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The 72 Year Marriage

At lunch the other day I was sitting next to two old men.

I noticed they were talking about one of their wives having been recently diagnosed with dementia.

I couldn’t stop myself from listening as this is not an issue too far away from my heart.

He related the difficulties associated with memory loss and the pains he experienced with mood swings and forgotten conversations. I gathered that she is still with it enough to be out doing things on her own, including shopping. Apparently she can’t stop shopping and he complained that his house is like living “inside a bureau”, he actually said that. He didn’t mention if this is something new that she is doing, maybe as a way to relieve the stress of her recent diagnosis or what but he did say the words, “it is breaking me”.

He seemed genuinely in pain, and in need of this longtime friend seated across the table from him. Unfortunately that friend was hard of hearing so he had to repeat large parts of the conversation and speak very loudly, I didn’t even have to feign interest in something in their direction to hear the tale.

And then he said one of the most remarkable things I have ever heard.

“After 72 years of marriage we have hit our first rough patch”

Now, I’m sure he Brian Williams’d that up a bit for effect or maybe his 90+ year old brain can’t remember a previous rough patch. But certainly a 72 year marriage fell on hard times a couple of times.

But I was shocked at the number, 72. Even if they married the day he turned 18, there was a 90 year old man sitting next to me eating vegetable soup and a club sandwich. And not only that, but his 90 year old wife is only at the beginning stages of dementia, and still goes out shopping on her own, a lot.

I thought about that man and his story for the rest of the day and in the several days between hearing it and writing this.

I sure hope they both make it to year 75.