Friday, February 13, 2009

The big One Eight

Back in 1991, things at work were kinda hectic. The Navy was still fighting the war in the Gulf, and I had been on standby for almost a month, myself and two pilots, we had our seabags packed and a helicopter waiting for a C-5 ride to the Middle East, in case any of the deployed aircraft were lost. We just didn't know what was going to happen at any given moment.

Being on alert meant no days off, no time for personal business. We spent about twelve hours a day hanging around the aircraft, while the maintenance tech's worked their asses off.

My girlfriend was not too happy about the situation, especially since she had given up a fine career at Pensacola Junior College, where she had been teaching living skills to blind and low vision afflicted people. To be with me. Uh, oh.

Now there was a war.

She was worried that something might happen to me, so we better firm up our situation, preferably legally. I agreed.

So I managed to get a Wednesday afternoon off, on the 13th of February. She had a job at a local nursing home, and they kindly allowed us a place to do the wedding. But to my eternal shame, I only thought of myself and how shy I was in public. So I made it a private ceremony.

I wish I could go back and change that. See, there were a number of elderly people who wanted to be part of the wedding, if only to remember their own happy years of wedded bliss.

They gave us a case of champagne and a wedding cake. Oh, how I wish I could have been a bigger person.

It was a wonderful afternoon, and the little party was grand. I wore a blue grey wool suit, and Lynne had a white lace dress. She was stunningly beautiful. I'm glad we videotaped the ceremony.

We were some good looking cats!

Afterwards, we drove home and listened to my favorite Buffett tape, "A1A". The last song is called "Tin Cup Chalice". She who will be obeyed always thinks of us when it is played.

I couldn't find a clean Buffett version on Youtube, but this cover is as good, or better. This tune and a couple others got me through being far away and missing my bride over the next five years of sea duty:

Despite being away for seven months at a time, we always would reconnect immediately. Never any fights, or stress from doubting fidelity. We seemed to be immune from all of the strained relationships and failed marriages around us at the Squadron.

I have no idea what made us continue our mission. It happened.

After I finally got shore duty, we were sort of nervous if we were the type of military couple that is most successful when the spouse is constantly deployed, and friction comes from a spouse returning home and finding that everyone is getting along fine without your input, thank-you-very-much.

Nope. Nothing had changed, other than not having the reuniting after 'x-months romantics' drill, on a regular basis. In fact, we settled into a pretty nice routine of just being glad to enjoy each others company on a daily basis.

So we tested the deal, by moving onboard a sailboat permanently. In a foreign city. In winter, with snow and ice. Add in inadequate heating and insulation.

No problem, Mon

Ok, let's try crossing the ocean. Yeah, that usually does in a marriage.

Instead, more fun and jubilation ensues!

So, tonight will be a huge, private celebration of the past nineteen years together. There will be fine wine, great food and for dessert we will have the best cheeses and a 1977 Vintage Port.

Afterwards, we will make our way back to the Barco Sin Vela and enjoy a fine champagne, remembering the loved ones who are gone and the love that we share that like fine Port, has aged and mellowed through the years.

I hope I can get another thirty good years.

This is a poem written by Don Blanding from his book, "Floridays", ( I have a signed first edition!) This poem was written at Fort Pierce, 1941

Toast to Today
(A Philosophy of the tropics)

Live each day as though it were your last
Pressing wine of joy from every minute;
Counting the hour lost when it has passed
If you have failed to find the laughter in it.
Even dark sorrow's brew may be distilled
To bitter-sweet liqueur. The salt of tears
Gives riper flavor to the flagon filled
With wine of memory aged by passing years.

Live each day as though no more remained.
Perhaps this is the last... oh, do not waste it.
The final cup may be the sweetest drained.
Let's toast "Today!" ... with lips athirst to taste it.

Love the Lynne!


Bob said...

You know about decanting vintage port, I hope.

A1A is one half of a good album. Side 1 is nothing but filler, but side 2 is classic Buffett. My own personal favorite from that one is Trying To Reason With Hurricane Season, which I've only seen him perform once in concert.

Liz said...

In tears...of joy for the both of you! Best, best wishes for at least another 30 years of the same and thanks for sharing some of your first 19.

Liz said...

oops - 18.

Buck said...

Happy Anniversary and congrats to you and Lynne, DC. Making a good and lasting marriage is hard work, doubly so for military folks. You both done good!

Here's to MANY more!

Barco Sin Vela II said...

Hey Bob,
Appreciate the heads up. This is the eighth 30+ Vintage Port in the last ten years, we have the crystal decanter standing by for service. I'm hoping for a great Stilton to light off the Port.

The first side of A1A does indeed have some filler, but "Tire Swing" and "Stories We Could Tell" stand up finely to the second side classics.

Ann: Thanks. It's 19 since we met, but you get the idea.

Thank you, Buck. I blame the Spousal Unit for being too nice. That's the reason I reciprocate.