The secret to a long marriage

April 25, 2021

I have been married for 42 years to a wonderful man who frustrates the heck out of me. It’s mutual. But when I need a reminder about what’s important in a relationship, I think about blueberry pie.

Picking blueberries at Butler’s Orchard was a family tradition for years, and one we continued after our children deserted us to banter on without them. Once we got to the field and were assigned our row, we began plopping our ripe berries into the buckets as the sun warmed our backs. After about 20 minutes, I looked up to see that my husband was nowhere in sight. Typical. He has to venture out on his own.

When my bucket is full and also my bladder, I better look for his ball cap. Tombstone, Arizona, I guess. The bright red hat he loves and I hate. Whenever we go on trips, he forgets to bring a hat, and so we have one of every color (except beige) from every state we’ve visited.

After walking for about 20 minutes, I finally spy him 50 rows ahead. I am worried about the bumpy tractor ride which is our way back to the car, so I yell his name and pantomime having to pee by frantically crossing one leg atop the other.

He hates me now. Like a 3-year-old in a shopping mall, every time we go anywhere, I have to pee.

We quickly board the seats closest to the back, and the wagon totters down the dusty road toward the cashier and the bathroom. Everyone is smiling, hands held tightly to our buckets, enjoying this idyllic Americana experience, when suddenly a child’s hat flies off his head and lands on the dirt road. Everyone’s eyes are fixated on the hat.

The child wails as the tractor chugs along, because the clueless driver is wearing a headset. What will happen next? My husband hands me his bucket and hops off the back of the wagon.

Now everyone on board is craning their necks and staring out the back to see if the old guy can make it. Yes! He grabs the hat, but we have rounded a corner. The tractor speeds up. I’m holding my bladder while I watch my husband sprinting to reach the wagon, pumping his arms and legs, clenching the child’s hat in his hand.

When he is inches away from two old wooden steps, other younger, more able-bodied dads extend their arms for him. With one gallant leap, he is in. Everyone claps wildly while the hat is passed from passenger to passenger and returned to the head of the happy child. The young mother offers a bottle of water to Mr. Perspiring, my kind-hearted, sympathetic partner. The man I married.

My husband has been losing hats, keys, glasses and umbrellas all of our married life. And I continue to search for bathrooms on interstates and highways and everywhere we travel – always at the most inconvenient times. This evening we are enjoying a glorious, mouthwatering blueberry pie! And I am grinning every time I picture him trying to reach the wagon. I know when he gets up from the table, he won’t push the chair in. I always do.

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