Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2006

Forty-one years ago this evening something happened that changed my life completely. I did not know it then, I did not know it for a number of years.

It was a dark and stormy night. I was twenty-two years old, with an abusive partner, a 15-month-old daughter and was a little over 6 months pregnant. We had purchased one side of a side-by-side duplex, which had been created by dividing an old wooden church in half. The ancient cemetery stones had been arranged in a mound across the street, between the house and the river. It was a move from the city to a small suburb where we felt it would be better for raising children.

The last load of plants and more delicate items, and it was freezing rain, dark and cold. I was frozen, exhausted and hardly able to pick up one more box when a car stopped on the street and a young man got out. He came up to the van and asked if we could do with a hand. It was the most wonderful thing anyone could have done for us right then. He helped us unload, then over the next few months, visited often, babysitting on occasion and hanging out with my husband quite a lot. I found out he lived a little farther up the road and was into motorcycles and the typical things that people were doing in the mid sixties.

Slowly, he saw the abuse I suffered and became more and more comforting toward me. After a year or more of this, he told me that I would not be able to handle the treatment forever and would leave my husband. When I did so, he wanted to marry me. I did not believe so because I had grown up without a father, and was determined that my children would not have to do so.

When I was in an accident a hundred miles from home, he somehow knew I was in trouble and “dropped by” my mother’s place to see what was up. When my oldest daughter passed away at the age of five, three years after I had met him, he was there for me even when my husband went to his brother for comforting and only showed up for the funeral. Whenever I was in need, he was there, never pushing but never going away either.

Finally when my younger daughter was five, my husband threatened her life and the next day, I left him, staying as far away from my friends as I could. I knew there could be a lot of trouble. When my husband hunted me with a gun, I could not even get police intervention, as my husband had not actually shot me. Eventually, I let my friends know where I was, and this young man again took up the task of being my friend with a vengeance. He would sit with me for hours when he knew I was troubled until I could find the words to tell him what was wrong. He brought me flowers; he treated me like I was special, which had never happened to me before.

We were married in August of 1973 and have gone through life together since. It has not all been fun, it certainly has not all been easy, but it has all been worth while. He has understood me when no one else did; he supported me even when he did not understand me. He has saved my life, literally, more than once. If there is good in me it is because my grandparents planted the seeds and he tended the garden and believed in me, allowing me to flourish.

We will spend this evening, like so many other New Year’s Eves, together over a gourmet meal we have prepared ourselves and reminisce about the years gone by and those yet to come, together, always together.

My wish is that each and every one finds a partner who is as loving, kind and devoted as he has been to me.

Happy New Year

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