Truce!

In summer, we like to be outside enjoying the warm weather in the backyard. Especially this year, having just come out of a Netflix-heavy winter, it’s the first in a long time we have no travel plans.

July, though, was a rainy month. During a particularly wet evening, my husband suggested we sit out on our covered front porch. With a bottle of red and two rocking chairs, we watched the rain, listened to the soothing sounds of rolling thunder, and talked for hours.

It was wonderful.

Two nights later, more rain. Back to the porch, to the music of raindrops on dogwood leaves, on warm bricks along the walkway, to the clink of glasses as we toasted to the end of another day.

Truce, we say, our toast ever since I laughingly fumbled my words earlier in the season.

It’s been a strange fifteen months. We’re still adjusting to the changes in our world: working from home, fewer outings with friends, continuous together time.

We broke our quick tradition the following evening, sitting on the rockers when orange and pink replaced the gray sky. As the sky darkened, we watched fireflies dot the front lawn, the baby rabbits that seemed to have materialized this summer more than any other, graze the grass. Maybe we didn’t notice them in the past because we were too busy. Running out. Away on vacations. On the couch.

A car drove by. Neighbors walked their dog past.

“What do you think people are saying about us?” my husband asked as the Shepard pulled the couple along.

“There are those alcoholics who think they live in Brooklyn.”

He sipped. “You think?”

“No. They’re saying can you believe those old people still enjoy each other’s company?”

The truth is, we don’t care. We have a lot to celebrate: summer, marriage, friendship. Life.

A few weeks ago, during another night on the porch, a friend passed by on his way home from work, saw us and stopped. He sprinted up the driveway, dodging raindrops. We poured him a glass of wine and caught up. When his suit dried, he left us to continue home.

It’s August already. Things are moving fast, so we’re making every effort not to. If we’ve learned nothing else from the past year, it’s that slowing down is a good thing. Do what brings you joy.

Sitting on the porch in the rain with my husband brings me joy.

I put dinner in the oven the other night. He walked into the kitchen. “Is that thunder?”

We stopped to listen. I smiled.

“I’ll get the glasses.”

“Do the Hustle…”

As I grow older and enjoy new experiences, my mind cannot hold onto every memory. I wish I could recall more from my youth or even the countless treasured ones of my babies before they so quickly became young men. I try, but I can’t. I guess it’s why we take pictures and videos. It’s why we tell stories. My boys are fortunate enough to be growing up with their grandparents. Grandparents are great storytellers. Through them, we learn about who we are and where we come from.

One significant childhood memory I do hold, though, is of my parents dancing. I don’t remember how old I was when they took lessons. Old enough to remember how they looked as they practiced the Hustle in the living room, and young enough not to want to be anywhere else but on that couch watching them. Maybe I can recall that with such clarity because it wasn’t a one-time incident. They practiced all the time, for hours.

We took a family vacation every year until I was sixteen. Holiday dinners, summer barbeques and New Year’s Eve parties at my house were the norm. So, when my parents decided to separate in my eighteenth year, it came as somewhat of a surprise. My friends were shocked. But they dance together! was a common response. They never fight, was another.

I learned then that you don’t have to fight or hate each other to no longer want to be married. Sometimes, it happens. Even to two people who are fond of each other.

For twenty years since, I’ve had birthday parties for my children, holiday dinners and various gatherings. Both of my parents attended, every time, each with their significant others. Dad likes Mom’s husband and Mom likes Dad’s girlfriend. Sometimes, they talk and occasionally hang out without me involved. They buy each other Christmas and birthday gifts. It’s the best possible scenario for the child of divorced parents.

About four years ago, my mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It’s taking its toll on a woman who was once vibrant, loud and full of energy. But it can’t squelch her drive to keep going. Mom joined a boxing class specifically for Parkinson’s patients. A put-up-your-dukes, hour long session where she pushes herself to stay strong. Its offered once a week. Not enough.

Earlier this year, my father married his long-time love. The wedding was beautiful, the guest list, intimate. Mom was there, as was her husband, her sisters and nieces. I kid you not. Mom’s family took up half the room. At one point, my father helped my mother to the dance floor. She was stiff and slow, but oh so happy.

Dad, an awesome dance instructor for over twenty years, decided to research the benefits of dancing for Parkinson’s patients. He put together a plan and presented it to my mother. Now, they get together every week. He teaches her to Rhumba, Hustle, Line Dance. She’s got the Electric Slide down. Her doctor can’t believe how her mobility has improved.

I’m thankful for so many things this year. But I count my blessings most for two people who have taught me, by example, that love comes in so many different forms. Though a marriage may not last, affection, respect and kindness endures.

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