‘Love and marriage’ one year later

by Mick Rhodes | editor@claremont-courier.com

A year ago I wrote about my upcoming nuptials in a column called “Love and marriage: not just for kids anymore.”

On the recent occasion of our first anniversary, I revisited that unabashedly lovestruck shout out to later-life romantics, and realized I was naïve.

The truth is my first year married to Lisa has been much, much more joyous and surprising than I anticipated, and seeing her in action every day has only deepened my admiration.

After 10 years of middle-aged courtship, I knew she was kind, generous, brilliant, and hardworking. But I had only read the introduction. I’m one chapter in now to the most beautiful novel ever written. I’m spellbound. Smitten. In awe.

This isn’t to imply year one hasn’t had its challenges. It has. But having the best seat in the house while she navigated crises large and small with grace and kindness was both a profound privilege and a master class in how currents radiate from one person’s steadfast radical empathy.

I now know just how much of her time is spent quietly loving and caring for those of us lucky enough to be in her orbit. Her force-of-nature efforts have quite literally healed the sick. Really.

I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen how lucky I am to have married up and to have attached myself to this powerhouse of compassion. Watching her over this past year has reinforced this in ways I could not have predicted. For example, I’ve learned that if you love with everything you have, work hard, and never give up, good will come. The end result may not be what you had in mind, but there’s never a bad outcome when you live your life this way, because the effort is the reward.

All told, we’ve weathered the year’s speedbumps if not in style, at least with smiles. Not a day has passed without a shared laugh, smile, hug, and kiss, and my gratitude has deepened and multiplied. This is a gift I will never take for granted.

I’ve also learned to let go of (most of) the small stuff. When families combine — especially into tight quarters like our 1952 postwar box of a home (for which I’m immeasurably grateful!) — things are bound to shift around and take time to settle. Our pets have turned out to be the biggest resistors to this integration. The box score is complicated: cat #2 remains at war with cat #1, and dog #2 is still intent on terrorizing both cats #1 and #2, with the latter occasional melees often resulting in various items overturned, prodigious barking, hissing, and clawing of furniture and sometimes people. Meanwhile, poor cat #1 remains in self-imposed solitary confinement in our bedroom, likely suffering with lifelong PTSD from being in a constant state of vigilance as prey to both dog #2 and cat #2. Only dog #1 seems unscathed as he calmly traverses boundaries canine, feline, and fowl, a mostly blind and undeniably deaf aging poodle Zen master.

Q-Tip the hen. Photo/by Enid Bilau

In a new twist, along with our combined nine children (but just four at home, usually), dogs, cats, and lizards, we recently added 10 hens and a rooster. This menagerie is housed in what my wife calls “little chicken shantytown,” a ramshackle collection of multi-colored coops, pens, fencing, and hardware cloth, all joined together by zip ties and love. The new additions to the family have brought Lisa great joy, and it’s lovely to watch her fuss over her one gent and 10 ladies, who will soon be producing fresh eggs for our human brood.

I also wrote a year ago, “Our house will be livelier, louder, and more vibrant. I believe many of the by now ancient grievances will be eased by the joyful noise and good vibes in store,” which has also turned out to be true. The humans are for the most part Brady Bunching it up. Aside from a minor hiccup or two, it has indeed been joyfully noisy. We are indeed noisy. Our young rooster crows around 6 a.m. Our various human teens are on the opposite schedule.

It’s a lot. But it’s also a lot of fun (very) loosely co-managing the chaos. As an only child, I am learning to relax, be present, and soak in all the glorious nonsense. I’m grateful at the end of each day to be pushing 60 and be surrounded by such a beautiful bunch of characters, each with his or her own needs and quirks. What a show this is!

And at the center of the swirl is Lisa, the glue, the CEO of chaos, the example we all aspire to, leading with love and kindness as us strugglers and students of life make our way through the darkness and light.

One beautiful, eventful year down.

Here’s to hoping for many more.

We are Everyday People

This week the Courier premieres a new feature, “Everyday People.” I modeled this short, human interest feature on one of my favorite reads, The New York Times’ long-running “Metropolitan Diary,” which offers vibrant, often life-affirming microbursts of local prose from residents of the city that never sleeps.

Of course, Claremont sleeps. We sleep a lot! But though we are but a sleepy suburb of Los Angeles, I believe, no I know we have very many interesting short-form stories to tell. So, with apologies to Sly Stone, we begin Everyday People in hopes of continuing to publish snippets of our unique humanity.

The inaugural entry was submitted by my friend Valerie Card, who writes about a brief encounter with Dan and Little Kitty.

Readers interested in submitting to Everyday People should email editor@claremont-courier.com with a short pitch and photo. There are no content restrictions, other than to keep it brief — 100 to 300 words — interesting, and free of commercial/promotional aspirations.

I look forward to hearing your stories.


Submit a Comment

Share This