This is a Blogsplash. Today, Tuesday April 24th, bloggers around the world are blogging about their ‘most beautiful thing’, to celebrate the birth of Fiona Robyn’s new novel, The Most Beautiful Thing. On Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th April, you can download a copy free to your kindle, pc or phone, or win a free paperback. Click on the link for instructions. I know Fiona's writing and happily recommend it even though I have only just started reading this book. You can find everyone else's blog posts here.
And what is my most beautiful thing?
It is my relationship with my husband Andrew, my third-time-lucky marriage (his second) which we entered into in 1993, on the 13th and 14th of November. Yes, that's right. I wanted a quiet, intimate wedding in our own home, with just our respective (grown-up) children present. He wanted a great big shindig of celebration. So we had both. On the 13th, the day after my birthday, we had the very private legal ceremony with a civil celebrant in our own home; the day after we had the big party with a public affirming of our vows, conducted by our friend and spiritual mentor Jenette in a ceremony with no legal significance but much emotional charge, followed by feasting and dancing.
I was married the first time for 3 years; the second time — during which I had my children — for 27. I was 53 when my second marriage ended, and was certain I was far too old, fat and ugly ever to attract another man. When I was younger I had also had some important relationships which didn’t lead to marriage, that ended sadly. I put out a strong request to the Universe: 'Next time around I want a happy one — a lasting, happy one!’ I was thinking of my next incarnation, not this lifetime. One day my Reiki Master, Ann Adcock, who was also a powerful psychic, suddenly said, ‘Ooh! Nice man coming for Rosemary. I just got told.’ And a nice man he was, and is.
He had had one marriage, in which he had his children, which ended acrimoniously at the time (though they became amicable enough later). One of his subsequent relationships which was very important to him had also ended badly. He told me that, some years before we met, he had a reading in which he was told there would be another love for him. The reader said, ‘Work will be very important in this relationship; I see you working together.’ He asked her rather plaintively, ‘Won’t there be love?’ She just smiled and said, ‘Oh yes, there’ll be love.’
When we were first together, my main income-earning work was teaching Reiki. He supported me wonderfully in presenting my seminars. We also worked at the Sunday Markets for many years, and that gradually became the main focus. At our stall I did psychic readings, he gave Reiki treatments and head massages.
Even more important than that was the fact that we were both writers. I’m a poet, he was an ex-journalist who turned to fiction, particularly children’s stories. We never wrote any best-sellers, but we believed in and supported each other’s work and had some modest success.
Spiritually we were aligned too, going from New Agey to Pagan — still with a love of Jesus, though hardly an orthodox attitude.
We travelled the world in 1998, on my inheritance from my mother, and had many wonderful experiences. It turned out to be a sort of spiritual pilgrimage to places that had huge past life significance for us, though we had not known or expected that.
We had already uncovered two lifetimes we had shared. In the first, we were merely acquainted, but in the second we had a brief and tragic love. On the advice of a wise friend, instead of getting excited about that we cleared it so as not to have to repeat it. And so, this time around, we have had a long and happy love.
Not, however, a ‘never a cross word’ kind of marriage. We are both too stubborn and too volatile for that. There have been some power struggles, some screaming matches and some sulks, but always the love and commitment to each other were stronger.
We acquired two cats when their owner couldn’t keep them. They were seven months old then; they are 14 years old now (and still behave like youngsters). They became ‘the children’ of course, and have brought us much joy.
Soon after we married we moved from a capital city to a small town in another State, with a sub-tropical climate and beautiful scenery. We have made many good friends here and had a wonderful life. There was never much money. When we met, I was an undischarged bankrupt, a legacy of my previous marriage, and he had just finished paying off huge debts incurred by a business partner who scarpered and left him holding the baby. So we didn’t have much — and eventually we went on the age pension, one at a time. (He is ten and a half years older than me.) But we have been very rich in other ways.
Since the beginning of 2010 we have been living in a Housing Department unit in a lovely location, which we have very much enjoyed. It is exactly the home which he, in particular, dreamed of. Because of some deteriorating health conditions, he gradually became somewhat housebound, and I too have been more of a homebody. Despite the problems, this has been in many ways a particularly lovely period of our lives together. Simple things like playing with the cats, watching our favourite TV shows, sharing books, writing, spending time with friends, and talking to our children on phone, email or facebook ....
I have had to do more for him, and he has been very loving and appreciative. We have laughed together a lot, cuddled a lot, enjoyed our meals, our music, our home. I have felt that this elderly love — I am 72, he is 83 — has had a particular sweetness. That is built on all that has gone before, of course, in the years we have been together; still it is very special in its own right.
Have you noticed that I am tending to speak in the past tense? We have just entered a new phase, and I am still in mourning for the one we have just left.
It is ironic that a man who has helped many people over the years with Reiki, to their lasting and vocal gratitude, has succumbed himself to illnesses which have been hard to alleviate, let alone cure.
He had a triple bypass and heart valve replacement in 1995 and a small heart attack in 2008. His annual checks, though, have always shown him to have excellent heart health. He has had more of a problem with diabetes, which was diagnosed in 1998. (Last year he finally went on to insulin instead of tablets.) The diabetes led to an excruciatingly painful nerve condition of the legs, called peripheral neuropathy. He has dealt with this pain for years, with great courage and patience. For the last 12 months he has become more and more dependent on a wheely walker to get around.
This last week he has had some falls, where his legs just collapsed beneath him. No dizziness or losing consciousness, and luckily he didn’t injure himself. But he ended up in hospital. It is not really safe for him to come home any more; he could injure himself next time, or I could hurt myself trying to help him.
And then there’s his mental state. Last December he was diagnosed with ‘mild to moderate’ Alzheimer’s. The medication to slow it down has not proved very successful in his case. He now doesn’t always know what time of day it is, and sometimes is living in the far past. He does still know who I am, and tells me often that he loves me.
His children and I are looking at all the options, but it seems clear enough which way it’s going to go. I realise I have been doing pretty much everything for him of late, looking after him like a small child. Not that I minded, or even noticed all that much — but I have become busier and busier, and have come close to exhaustion. (Even with respite care and domestic help in place.)
The thought of not bringing him back home is unbearable, and right now my heart is breaking, but I am trying to look ahead and see that there may be good things in the new phase too. I think it is all about quality of life, and I have lately realised that what that means for him is no longer the same as what it means for me. Rest and comfort are his priorities now.
When we first started getting serious, I read his palm and saw that he would have a lot of illness late in life. I married him anyway and I’m glad I did. I’m glad I didn’t miss out on my most beautiful thing.