Patty and I were vendors at the Kenosha Harbor Market last Saturday, which happened to also be our fortieth anniversary.
The weekly market is an altogether lovely event in a beautiful location. There are over one hundred white 10×10 tents in a two block area and some side streets flanked by two lighthouses, museums, fountains, parks, condos, and boats in the marina, all on the shore of Lake Michigan. The market is an explosion of people (up to 10,000 in a five-hour period), dogs (lots of dogs), live music scattered out at four different locations, flowers, produce, food, art, and all kinds of interesting stuff for sale.
Usually, I just help Patty with setting up and tearing down everything involved in her temporary jewelry store. In between, I go home and get some odd jobs done. But since this was our anniversary, the least I could do was hang around.
At one point, I went for a walk toward the park and beach where I saw young lovers enraptured by simply being in each other’s presence. She held his head as he lay on a blanket spread out on the grass.
But the most touching thing I saw last Saturday was not their expression of young love. It was expression of old love.
A neighboring vendor asked if I could come help an elderly gentleman who had fallen. Probably his walker had a wheel go off of the sidewalk, and that caused him to take a tumble. As I approached him he lay on the ground with his walker underneath his legs. He was probably 85 – 90 years old, out on a beautify day to take in the market with his wife, who ironically, drove there. They were extremely gracious Italian-Americans who spoke broken English. Even though I just met them, I really liked them.
We helped the gentleman up so he could sit on the seat of his walker and I got a chair for his wife, who was the more shaken of the two. Wonderful people gathered around to help. The paramedics were called, as was their son. He was checked out and deemed to be okay and the delightful couple was driven home by their son.
I did my heart so much good to help someone in need, but I was fighting back the tears the whole time (as I am now) for two reasons.
Their age and condition so parallels that of my parents, and somehow that really got to me emotionally.
Remember this was our fortieth anniversary and I am the person who wrote in a previous post that Patty and I were so young when we got married that we grew up together, and now, we are growing old together. I was thinking that in 20-30, we will be in a similar condition as this elderly, yet, touchingly loving couple.
I have personal experience with the helpless feeling of watching Patty fall and not be able to get to her I time. I watched her struggle with intense pain until she had her knee replaced, and then witnessed her long recovery process. As I tried to help the gentleman and his wife, I was thinking about an elderly version of Patty and me; then tears really welled up in my eyes.
The old man trying to reassure his wife and everyone else he is okay, the old woman whose heart was broken by her husband’s fall; that is what old love is like.
- Young love is like drug that makes you feel better.
- Old love drugs you into simply wanting to share life’s experiences together.
- Young love is full of unrealistic expectations and unbounded optimism.
- Old love is held together by a commitment that has weathered more joys and heartaches than you could even imagine when you were young.
- Young love flourishes on the sensual, the touch and feel, the emotional surges.
- Old love flows from a changed heart that is less selfish, more caring, more deferential, and more concerned about the other.
This loving process is so deep and multifaceted, that when you have been married for forty years, like we have, you are just getting started.