The slow boat to China – or cruising through 20 years of Marriage

Mick and Jo

Who are these young people… Me and my beautiful wife back in 1993

Twenty Years

The second of October 1993 to the second of October 2013…A time to celebrate twenty years of being married. Twenty years that feels like it has been a long time, but twenty years that also feels like it has gone by in the blink of an eye.

Twenty years that have been filled with highs, lows and everything in-between. Twenty years that have given us three beautiful children, that have filled us with joy.. and the inevitable sadness of Samuel’s situation.

Twenty years with Jo-ann who is probably expecting me to make a crack about the possibility of being paroled for murder (twice over) by now…[or as a friend put it more politely the other day.. day years married to you Michael, I’m sure she thinks about murder and being paroled every day] …. but no… I’m more romantic than that 🙂 (shhhh stop laughing Jo-ann)

Taking the slow boat to china…

I’m sure you have all heard the term “on a slow boat to China”.. in general use it means something that takes a long time is very slow and may never reach it’s destination. The term also has a few cultural references to romance too with a 1948 hit song by Frank Loesser that has been revised from time to time by the likes of Peggy Lee and Bing Crosby, Bette Midler, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin and many others.

In the romantic sense the term is about wanting to spend as much time as possible with the one that one love…..  and the reality is that I’d be happy to do twenty years with Jo-ann all over again.. and I look forward to spending the next twenty on another ride on the “slow boat to china”… because who really knows that the destination of life is, or when we’ll get there?

But….I’m also playing on words a little…..

The symbolism of twenty years

A twentieth wedding anniversary is represented by China….no not the country! Gifts of fine china are the traditional gift associated with a twentieth wedding anniversary.

It is meant to symbolizes the beautiful, elegant, and delicate nature of your love for one another over 20 years (However, there was no way I was going out to get Jo-ann a nice china dinner set…)

Jo-ann is one who likes symbolism and some of the associated tradition and the romance that it represents … so my gift to Jo-ann for our twentieth wedding anniversary  is this…

Doulton Forever

A Royal Doulton, Fine China Figurine called FOREVER.

I think it is a nice blend of the tradition of China as a twentieth anniversary gift, a reminder of our wedding day (and how damn young we looked!), and that we are on the slow boat to China forever…..

My anniversary message to Jo-ann.

Social_network

I Love You… through thick and thin, through the highs and lows. I’m glad you’ve shared the last twenty years with me, I look forward to sharing another twenty with you….[and just so you don’t think I’m getting too mushy… just remember… you’re stuck with me 🙂 ]

 

The ambiguity of being human

20130405-204648.jpg

Three weeks along

It seems like a blink but we have now been at Bear Cottage for three weeks and things continue to be slow and steady. It has been three weeks of continued watching and waiting.

I should know not to expect anything concrete in life.. But when they moved us to Bear Cottage it was with a sense that there really was very little time left with Samuel. However in his usual form Samuel has decided to continue to do things in his own fashion and in his own good time.

What Samuel has given me is a lot more quiet time to reflect on life, to read and to contemplate a wide range of things.

The fundamental ambiguity of being human

Impermanence… it’s an issue that we all have to deal with whether we like it or not. Exploring and becoming comfortable with impermanence is a key part of Buddhist philosophy.

One of the books I have read while sitting alongside Samuel’s bed is “Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change” by Pema Chodron.

In it she reminds us that

whether we’re conscious of it or not, the ground is always shifting. Nothing lasts, including us.

She also provides great reminder about the conditions we all experience in life and provides some excellent points on exploring the fact that we are always trying to get solid ground under our feet, always concerning ourselves with pleasure and pain, gain and loss, fame and disgrace, and praise and blame; always moving between the various states.

Sitting and watching Samuel for weeks, and as a family trying to keep things together, calm and purposeful, has been great lesson in the movement between all these states.

How to be of service..

I try to be compassionate. A strong reflection on compassion is always accompanied by the question “how can I be of service”?

In the book Pema Chodron also reminds us

Time after time… We will find that we are not really sure what will help and not hurt

As we have been making decisions for Samuel over the past weeks a constant concern has been about making decisions that won’t hurt him. We have made decisions about removing additional pressure support for Samuel, some slight changes in his medication, getting used to changes in his breathing patterns…. Having to accept things that in the past we would not have accepted.

It’s all an experiment

Pema invites is to live our life as an experiment and;

adopt an attitude of “I’m not sure what will help in this situation, but I am going to experiment and try this”. Sometimes the result will be “Wow, did that ever NOT work”, but if it is we have learnt something, and now we can try something different

Samuel’s colour is not what it usually is, he looks a little blue around the lips and nose in the mornings, he is occasionally working harder with his breathing, he is clearly in pain more often.

We are figuring out what works and what doesn’t. We are watching and waiting still but as always we are being guided by Samuel and it’s clear he is going to decide what will happen and when.

Until them we will continue to deal with the fundamental ambiguity of being human in our situation.