Sally Cronin is running a popular series for her authors in her Smorgasbord Bookstore and Cafe. I was thrilled to be invited to share an extract from one of my books. I shared a sampling from my book Twenty Years: After “I Do”.
Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Share an Extract from your Latest Book- #Memoir – Twenty Years After “I Do” by D.G. Kaye
About the book:
In this personal accounting, D.G. Kaye shares the insights and wisdom she has accrued through twenty years of keeping her marriage strong and thriving despite the everyday changes and challenges of aging. Kaye reveals how a little creative planning, acceptance, and unconditional love can create a bond no obstacle will break. Kaye’s stories are informative, inspiring, and a testament to love eclipsing all when two people understand, respect, and honor their vows. She adds that a daily sprinkling of laughter is a staple in nourishing a healthy marriage.
Twenty years began with a promise. As Kaye recounts what transpired within that time, she shows that true love has no limits, even when one spouse ages ahead of the other.
An extract from the memoir.
In this chapter, I’m talking about the familiarity of moments in silence, when we grow to understand a loved one so well, often words aren’t necessary.
In his quietest moments, I can hear him thinking. He’s always thinking.
There’s no silence in Gordon’s head. Even while watching TV, his mind is busy spinning. His thoughts may be focused on anything from the customer who’s coming in tomorrow to an item he’s remembered to remind me to pick up at the grocery store—or, often, he’s thinking about me, some old memory he’ll feel compelled to remind me about.
Often when speaking to him, I’ll notice his concentration focused on something other than me. He’ll claim he’s listening to what I’m saying, but his attention is on something else within. I call it attention-span lapsing, not quite ADD but more like brewing an idea while in the midst of a separate conversation. These little moments used to drive me crazy in the early stages of our relationship because I felt as though he wasn’t paying attention to our conversation, but he was. He always did. I hadn’t yet learned how his mind worked.
I’ve had plenty of years to study my husband and can read his thoughts just by a certain look on his face, a silence between us, or sometimes from the first word of a sentence when he speaks. Even the manner in which he’ll call out my name prompts me to know what he’ll ask me. When he calls me Cubby with a higher pitch and an emphasis on the y sound, I know he’s in a jovial mood and eager to share good news or something funny. When he calls me Cub, I know he’s going to ask me a question or has something pressing on his mind he wants to share. Deb is reserved for his pissed-off moments.
We’ve always been so in tune with each other, spoken words or not. Many times, I’ll walk into his man cave, and he’ll be watching TV, not even noticing I’m there as he focuses with eyes glued on whatever he’s watching. I’ll announce myself after standing to his left with one of my usual smart-ass comments, “Earth calling,” and he’ll turn after I startle him, chuckling because he knows the thought police is on to him.
Based on whatever may be currently going on in our lives, I have a reasonable idea about what he may be dwelling on in his moments of silence. I’ll remind him he’s home now and it’s time to turn off his brain and relax. He’ll smile with that familiar twinkle in his blue eyes and once again ask how I always seem to know what he’s thinking. I don’t know how I know. I just do. After spending so much time together, we grow an inherent understanding of the silent language interpreted by eye contact, a lack of it, body language, silence, temperament, or sometimes even by the bang or the silent closing of a door.
The thought police in me is always on duty, ready to dissect Gordon’s brain. It’s become second nature. In this past year since Gordon’s health suffered, I have noticed how much more he likes to remind me about some of our best times we’ve shared. Sometimes I know he’s trying to get a rise out of me with laughter. Other times I can’t help but feel he’s thinking about his mortality. I don’t dwell on it, nor do I let him know I know what he’s thinking about.
Nobody ever wants to think about the end of existence. But trust me, as we age, we all have many of those days when we feel the hands of time ticking by. Gordon’s brushes with death have somehow opened the curtains of a window he never previously cared to look out of, a window he never talked about—one we’ve never talked about. But I know that window revealed to him how close the end almost came for him in the past year, causing him many pauses for thought. He doesn’t say so, but I know.
Once in a while, when Gordon breaks a silent moment between us and says in mere passing, “We’ve been together twenty years,” I know where his brain goes. I never ask him to elaborate on where those thoughts come from, but I know when he’s in a reflective mood, when he feels the urge to relive tender moments, when he’s fearing his mortality. In those exact moments, I know.
One of the reviews for the book
Twenty Years: After “I Do” is an autobiographical non-fiction book about the author’s experience with marriage and relationships. I’ve previously read another of her autobiographies about her relationship with her mother, and it was such an emotionally charged and well-written book, I decided to keep reading more from her every few months until I caught up on all her works.
In this one, Debby tells us what happened almost twenty years ago when she debated whether to marry the man who is now her husband. Given he was twenty years older, she had a lot of decisions to consider when it came to how her life would change. At the core of this book, and her approach to life, is her commitment and honesty in all that she achieves. Debby knew… if she married him, she would have to accept all that came with it in the future. From there, she dives into key aspects of married life: emotions, sex life, personal time, separation of couple and individual, fighting, decision-making, and death. Lessons we all need to consider.
Debby’s writing style is simply fantastic. It’s easy to devour in a short sitting, but it always makes you feel like part of her life. She openly shares so much (the good, the bad, and the ugly) while holding back in all the appropriate areas to allow for proper balance, e.g. we learn about the impacts to her sex life when one partner is ill but she doesn’t go into the details. She tells us how she and her husband tackled the issues from a day-to-day perspective and moved on… because they loved one another (to the moon and back).
There is a refreshing honesty and truth in her words, and readers will quickly find themselves a path to compare their own lives to that of the author’s. What have I done well? What could I do better? What needs to change? Excellent questions to consider, but Debby doesn’t directly tell us to do this–her actions show us why this is at the core of a good marriage. I’m thrilled I had the chance to read this one today. Although I’ve only been with my partner for 8 years, it’s easy to track where things are and what we could do differently.
Debby bravely tells us her story, allowing us to interpret for ourselves what everything means, especially in this ever-changing world where people live longer and have access to more things but it’s harder to get them. I highly recommend this book to nearly anyone in a relationship, or those who want to know how to handle one when they are. Debby shares a few secrets, some hints, and a few suggestions to consider. It’s not just for newbies or long-term couples… there’s a bit of everything for how to co-exist and still be who you are. Great work!
Read the reviews and buy the memoir: Amazon US
And: Amazon UK
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