Sweet 16

I woke up this morning to find an email in my inbox from G. He’d made a video which I’m gathering the little travellers had helped him film. It’s our 16th wedding anniversary today.

Hip replacements require the acquisition of new apparatus to perform daily tasks . My mother is currently in possession of some ridiculously long plastic tongs, if we were eating salad from a five foot tall salad bowl they’d make perfect sense. She’s meant to use her plastic tongs to stop her from bending over, they help her pick things up off the floor and get dressed in the morning. I found her and my father in the laundry this morning, he was standing in his boxers with his back to her loading something into the washing machine while she very cheekily stood behind him with her plastic tongs at the ready.  I caught her just as she was about to pinch his bottom.

My parents have been married for over 50 years. They drive each other insane. They pick, they niggle, they nag and they annoy. He can’t hear and she doesn’t stop talking. They are both pig headed, strong willed and determined. About ten minutes after Mum and  I arrived home last night Dad whispered something under his breath about a man being driven to drink. They are also hopelessly co-dependant. They move around each other like a meticulously planned flight pattern, he knows where she’ll sit, she knows what he’ll eat. Their level of affection intense, their bond scary. My sister and I learnt early that while they can be as rude as they wish about each other we were never to join in. She will jump to his defence, he will suggest you reconsider her opinion, remind you of how much she loves you and what she’s done for you. When we were younger and I’d mention that they got together at 18 and found each other early my Mum would stress “yes, but we were lucky, we were just lucky.”

Our eldest daughter and I imagine holder of the camera while G made his video recently told me she felt lucky to have grown up in our house.

“Sometimes Mum I just wonder how come I got so lucky. My parents are still together, I still have both my grandparents. Everyone is still together and happy.”

“It’s not always blissful – you know that, right? Your Dad and I sometimes get really cross, we just have an agreement that we have to keep talking.”

It hasn’t always been blissful. G and I like the majority of couples find ourselves in peaks and troughs. There are times that I adore him and believe ours is the greatest of love stories. Other times I think we’ve fallen apart, stopped communicating, our story heading towards more of a greek tragedy.

“I have a question for you” G asked from our lounge room in Qatar this morning. “What do you know about couples and sleep patterns? Can you find out if there’s been a study on people who have been married for years and how they sleep without each other”.

“Are you having trouble sleeping” I pout, my bottom lip protruding in sympathy.

“Yes!” he has eyes like a labrador “I had a terrible sleep last night, I just miss you, the companionship of you.”

It’s been 16 years. 7 countries, 4 children, 2 dogs, many sleepless nights and more parent/teacher conferences than I knew were possible. We’ve hated each others guts, loved each other passionately, laughed until we couldn’t breathe and cried together in joy and grief. If our parents are anything to go by we’re amateurs, beginners. Miles from the halfway mark – we’re just hitting our stride.

In the middle of typing this one of my best mates in Renmark arrived with a bottle of Moet in his hand “your husband told me to give you this.”

I think back to my conversation with out eldest, my final piece of advice as we got out of the car. “Just make sure you end up with  someone with the same attitude as yours. Someone who’s prepared to stick with it, talk it through, make it fun.”

I got lucky. I just got lucky.

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