Did you hear about the senior couple who got married and spent their honeymoon getting out of the car?
It’s funny only if it doesn’t apply to you.
Since it appears we’re now doing a brief series on the subject of seniors remarrying, we thought there should be a place to record things that made us laugh, the silliness that has kept the fun in our relationship.
Oh, one more thing before we go on. Keep in mind that lovers often laugh at things no one else would, that they have secret, little inside jokes based on something said early in the relationship, and so not everyone will find what follows as humorous as we did. And that’s perfectly fine. We’re not going into the stand-up comic business.
Bertha and I had not been seeing each other more than one week, but already knew the Lord was in this. In one of our nightly (8 pm) phone calls, she said, “What would be a deal-breaker for you in this?” One would think this would bring a serious response from me. But my mind doesn’t work that way.
I said, “Well, three things. One, do you smoke? Two, were you ever a man? and three, do you still work at the roadhouse over on the highway?”
She was quiet a moment, then said, “I can confidently say ‘no’ to two of those.
We’ve laughed ever since. We were just feeling goofy and this is how it came out.
People want to know how I proposed to Bertha. In truth, I did it the conventional way, with flowers and jewelry (a birthstone necklace, not a ring, for reasons she was a part of) and a little speech. Later, I embellished the speech and she laughs as I tell people the following.
How did I propose? I said to her, “Bertha, you’re a fine woman. You have a good job, you own your own home, you have money in the bank, you’re healthy, you have all your own teeth–will you marry me?”
And she said, “What do you bring to this?” I said, “I have a partial plate.” She said, “What else?” I said, “That’s about it.”
She said yes anyway.
Not more than two months after we had been seeing each other, Bertha’s daughter Lari texted to say, “Thank you for giving my mother her laughter back.”
Bertha is not a comic, although she is now married to one. But she loves to laugh as much as anyone I’ve ever met. In her fifty-plus years of marriage to Gary, she says she enjoyed hearing the stories he told in sermons over and over. “Each story was new every time he told it.” I said to her, “You were enjoying it along with the people, as though you were hearing it for the first time.”
That’s a gift every pastor needs in a wife. And it’s extremely rare, let me say. Far too many wives roll their eyes when sitting through another recitation of their preacher-husband’s stock stories.
Four. A hundred little things have kept us laughing…
After I bought this house and moved in, but a couple of months before we married, Bertha wanted to give me three bookcases as a wedding present. She had had good experiences with a certain mailorder company, so she ordered from them. A friend suggested that we go online and read the comments from buyers. That’s when we discovered that although the shipping would be free, the bookcases would have to be assembled.
They arrived by FedEx, three long, long flat boxes. We looked at each other and laughed. “Might as well get to it.” We opened one, laid out all the parts and planks, the shelves and fasteners, and began combing through the packing materials for directions. We found no specific directions, but a page containing drawings was included. So, we sat down to figure out the instructions by the drawings. Then, we tackled the first bookcase. Three hours later we had it up and standing. Whew. Only two more to go!
We suggest to couples planning marriage that they should tackle some projects together. The time we spent on those bookcases, one at a time over the next few days, was sometimes frustrating (“Oh my, this thing is backward.” Had to take it apart and start over.) and always fun. We laughed a lot. She found out quickly that I am a better preacher than handyman, and she learned how I behave when frustrated. Ever the schoolteacher, even though she did not give me an A+ she did award me passing marks, and promoted me to husband status.
Five. We’ve posted things on Facebook….
One day this week, I posted on Facebook a photo of Bertha painting (okay, staining) the back deck, something she’s been wanting to do since we first selected this house. Since she wanted to get into the job without me meddling, my contribution was to clean off the deck, then sit back and supervise. As a gag, I asked if I could photograph her at work with my feet propped up. She laughed, agreed, then laughed again at the photo. I posted it and the comments began pouring it. By next morning, I had 38 comments. “And yet he lives,” said one. When people accused me (in fun) of turning her into a slave, I said in self-defense, “Well, the deck needed restaining and she had bought the paint. Oh, and the little brush just fits her sweet little hand. She loves this, and who am I to stand in the way of my bride’s happiness?”
One friend commented, “I’m impressed she’s on her knees. I can’t sit like that anymore at all.” I said, “She’s young–five months younger than me.”
Another said, “I see you walking on the edge while you’re sitting on the deck.” Another said, “Wives, submit yourselves…” Most of the comments, however, were chiding me on my brutish behavior. “Joe, get up from there and help her!”
Six. For this piece, I asked Bertha what she laughed at…
We had been planning a wedding involving only immediate family. However, it was getting bigger and bigger, more complicated, and more expensive. One day Bertha came in and said, “What if we just walk into the chapel at the church with a couple of witnesses and do it.” We agreed to run this by the children so they would not be surprised. They took it very well, actually. Bertha laughed at my analysis: “Rather than take a chance and omit someone and thus offend them, we decided to offend everyone and invite nobody! We have become equal opportunity offenders.”
The very first week we met, Bertha let me know she was not interested in marrying for companionship. She said, “I have a dog for companionship.” At various times since, we have laughed at the memory. At one point, after I proposed and she accepted, I said, “You can now get rid of the dog.” (She has no intention of doing that. I now have a dog living in my house, for the first time ever.)
Someone whom I do not know sent a message that went something like this: “Joe, I don’t want to sound like I’m rebuking an elder, but you must not compare Mildred with your first wife. Mildred won’t appreciate that.” He went on in that vein for a bit. Since I don’t know the guy, I thought what he said was a little excessive. So, at the end, I replied: “Fortunately, I’m not marrying Mildred. I’m marrying Bertha.” Ever since, we have laughed when one of us refers to the third party, Mildred, in this relationship.
Bertha has been wanting to see the movie based on the book “The Purpose of a Dog.” When she mentioned that the movie is now showing and we should find a time to see it, I said–with as serious a tone as I could muster–“Do we have to take the dog?” She took a full second to process that, then exploded into laughter. I felt fully rewarded that I now have an audience. My siblings will tell you Joe has always needed an audience.
Bertha works in the yard, she stained the deck, she can cook and sew and even cut my hair. I tell her the $23 I spent for the marriage license was the bargain of the year. “Why, I’ve have spent up to $50 for you!”
Someone somewhere has said if you are in love with someone but there is no laughter in the relationship, it’s the wrong person. We long ago settled that.
God is good. We are rejoicing in Him.