The Other Story

Jon at Jean’s diner for his birthday breakfast

There’s a really well-known story,  that basically goes like this…

An older man is married to the same woman for many years, then meets a younger woman, often at the hight of his career. He divorces the woman who stuck by him all those years, as he was striving to be successful, and marries the younger woman.

It’s one of those stories that I had many opinions about early in my life, shaped mostly by my general contempt of men.

As I got older, I would hear the story and be more aware of the nuances that were usually left out of the telling.  And when Jon and I got together, I saw, that with the nuance, it is the story of Jon and me.

But there’s another story.  One that I never heard until after Jon and I got together.  And over the years we’ve been together I keep hearing it, from different people,  again and again.

This Other Story is about an older man and younger woman (often both of them artists of some kind) who find each other, fall in love and do what they have to do to be together, often leaving spouses of many years.  They experience  the kind of love they never knew existed before, and are supportive of each other in every way.  Eventually the older man dies and the woman struggles with the loss but  goes on with her life, richer for having known the kind of love they did.  Whether she chooses to be alone or find another partner, she never forgets the love they had.

My friend Carolyn, told me a version of this story about herself and her husband Noel.  She said that he loved her into being.

I believe Jon and I loved each other into being.

Somehow we were always able to see the real person hidden under the broken childhoods and trauma that made us who we had become.  And we each loved the real person in the other and truly wanted what was best for them.

We still do.

And it’s not over, we continue to love each other into being who we really are.  Because who we are is ways evolving.  The evolution is something we share, something we believe in.  Just as in art one creation leads to the next, it’s the same in life.  Not always in a straight line, but continuous.

Today is Jon’s birthday.  He’s 72 yet he never feels old to me.

There are some things we used to do together that he can’t anymore, like taking long walks in the woods or tubing down the Battenkill, and sometimes I’m sad about that.  But I also love walking and swimming alone.

And Jon has other really good  things he’s doing with his life now that he wasn’t before, like working with the people at The Mansion and supporting the refugees students at The Bishop Maginn School.

So we move on.

Evolution is not about reaching an apex then descending.  It’s about changing with the circumstances around you in the best possible way.

The Other Story has become mythology to me.

I find truth and hope in it.  No matter which of us dies first, the other will be left having known the kind of love that lives on.  And both of us have had the wonderful experience of having loved the other into being.

10 thoughts on “The Other Story

  1. I do not have a similar story. I was struck by your saying that Jon doesn’t seem old to you. At 68 heading towards 69, 72 is not old. 90 is old. So, no wonder Jon doesn’t seem old.

    1. Kathryn, Jon is 17 years older than me, so some might assume that he would seem older to me. But as I wrote, he never has, and still doesn’t seem old to me. But I have known 30 year old people who seem old to me. So it has less to do with age really. It is my experience that the older I get the less old that age and the ones close to me, seems to me. However there is truth in the fact that as we age our bodies age also. I bet there are people out there who are 90 and don’t feel old. It is a very personal thing.

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