on a lasting marriage…

…just married (1971)

Forty nine years ago today I married a man I met on a blind date just the year before. My first thought this morning was I would do it again, in a heartbeat, because in those 49 years, I have learned so much. I learned so much about him, about myself, about tenacity, about strength, about courage, about wisdom, about endurance, about stubbornness, about love, about character and about commitment.

While I tend to think of myself as level-headed, easy-going, flexible; I truly am complex. I am an artist after all! I really don’t think being married to me has been a picnic. Yet the stoic Swede has been steady Eddy for all of these 49 years. And how blessed have I been to have his calming force in my life.

Everything about our lives together has been yin and yang. He grew up as an only child in San Francisco, the son of an immigrant carpenter, whose parents argued constantly and loudly. He left home as soon as he could, joined the Army, went to Germany during Vietnam era, came back and joined the Daly City Fire Department, where he worked for 33 years.

I was raised in an affluent suburb of San Francisco, the eldest of three daughters, of a corporate executive. My parents never argued in front of the children, but often slung sarcastic biting comments at each other. They were not pleased when I became engaged to this stranger from another world, this blue collar person. Sadly, for them, they never took the time to know him, to comprehend his character, his kind & generous heart; instead directing their attention to the husbands of my sisters, both Mr. Flash and Dash. Neither of those marriages lasted.

So coming from such diverse backgrounds, and having such opposite personalities, it has been an interesting ride. We both had to learn good communication styles; his calmer, mine more direct.  I’ve had a lifetime of grandiose ideas. He has always been the voice of reason, the ballast to my sails. Had I not met him I would probably be living in my car! We have accomplished more than anyone on my side thought possible. We bought a home, raised a child, were good worker bees, traveled the world, retired early & securely. Yea… a real disappointment!

stitched photo of walk down aisle

I, of the grandiose ideas have been plotting course for the potential of our 50th anniversary. Yet this year I have been dealt another dose of reality as my rock is crumbling. His body wracked with Parkinson’s is failing him. I don’t know if he will be able to travel a year from now. He often reminds me that we have seen more of the world than most people. We have seen 46 of the 50 states, and 14 countries for me, 12 for him. (I went solo to Japan and Hong Kong in 2002). Recently I’ve thought we might just do something low-key to commemorate 50, unlike the big parties my grandparents had to celebrate theirs, when we were just newlyweds. We are going to practice for 50 by celebrating our 49th with a takeout dinner, in lockdown due to the coronavirus!

The images are of Defining Moments 16: Marriage. I dismantled my wedding dress, which my mother had made. It was exquisitely and intricately sewn of heavy cotton pique, lined with heavy flannel. I could have gotten married in January in the Yukon in that dress, it was that sturdy! In honor of my maternal heritage we had a Russian theme, thus the headscarves.

Some thought it sacrilege that I would take apart my wedding dress! GASP!  I made a screen from the vows in our wedding book, screen-printed those to the cloth and then layered it with my headscarf, the hand-crocheted headscarf of my Russian great-grandmother, and a bridesmaid’s dress. Yes, they did wear red/white/blue paisley dresses with go-go boots. It was the 70’s after all.

Defining Moments 16: Marriage

Yes, marrying the stoic Swede was definitely one of my better defining moments.





22 Responses to “on a lasting marriage…”

  1. Cindy L Kelleher says:

    Happy anniversary Carol and Lloyd. My friend, what can I say, this is a beautiful and heartfelt testimony to what a marriage is. It brought more than one tear to my eyes. Stay safe and well in your sheltering in and enjoy your quiet takeout celebration. I love you!!

  2. Judith D Block says:

    I was in tears by the end of your post. A beautiful tribute to your husband and your life together.

  3. Mary Ann Cox says:

    Beautiful story and happy anniversary!

  4. Congrats on 49 years, and your special plans this year! I too married in the early 70’s (1972) to a rock solid guy, a witty, warm actuary. You made me laugh with the living in your car comment; as an artistic free spirit, I identified with that. But, you worked hard and I worked hard with our life partners. Nice to see the pictures!

  5. Natalya says:

    What a lovely tale! How lucky you both are! And where can I get better look at that artwork??? It’s so teeny tiny here….

    • Carol says:

      Thanks Natalya, we are lucky! I’lll send you the images. My website is undergoing renovation, so even though I uploaded 1200 px they are not showing as that right now.

  6. Helen says:

    Great blogpost. Happy anniversary! Just love your work. My daughter lived in the East Bay for many years, and when I went to see her I always stopped in at the art collective in Berkeley hoping to see your work.

  7. Pat Bishop says:

    Congrats to you and your Swede, Carol. You have a mind of your own and always did. Good for you! Loved reading your love story.

  8. What a lovely way to start my day today. Thank you for sharing this beautiful testament to your marriage, your husband, your choices and a life well lived. Congratulations and Happy Anniversary.

  9. Liz Nelson says:

    Congratulations on your HAPPY 49 years! I’m glad we got to meet those years ago at “Art Camp” in Massachusetts! I hope your next years are as happy and productive….Liz

  10. Vivien Zepf says:

    Yours is a wonderful love story. Congratulations and happy anniversary!

  11. Sherri Oster says:

    What a beautiful story of life and love. Thank you for sharing, Carol.

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