I had grown up by the time my parents ended their 38 year marriage. I wasn’t really affected by it; I had my own life to live and my own goals to achieve. After about year or so I got curious about why they decided to end the relationship. I never thought they were unhappy with each other. I drove to my father’s house to talk with him, it had been a while since we last saw one another anyhow and a visit would undoubtedly do him some good. He lived on the outskirts of town on an old cattle ranch; the property was perfect for man like him. Lots of nature and fresh air; it was perfect for him to write his music and stories, plus my children loved the massive play area. My father took great joy in having grandchildren to spoil.
I pulled up the dirt driveway and parked next to his truck. He was sitting on the porch playing his guitar and drinking a beer.
“Hey old man! How’s is going?”
“Not bad son, not bad. Sit down and have drink, they’re in the cooler there.” He pointed to a faded blue beach cooler in between the two chairs on his porch. As usual he had it filled with PBR and a few cans of dry roasted peanuts.
“So,” he asked me, “what’s going in your world?”
“Not a lot, work is going pretty good. I have a few days’ vacation this week so I convinced Deb to let me have a day for myself.” I said with a smile. He looked at me in that fatherly way that let you know he knew you had something pressing on your mind.
“Now I can’t imagine you’d come all the way out here just sit down with an old guy and drink beer. What’s on your mind son?” he said.
“Well I’ve been wondering why you and mom got divorced. I’m not broken up about it or anything, just curious that’s all.” He put his beer down on the lid of the cooler, placed the Taylor acoustic in its holder and turned toward me.
“We wanted to explore other things in our life. You know before we don’t have them anymore.” He said this bluntly as if I should have now this fact.
“But I was wondering, isn’t marriage a sacred institution; something to be honored?”
“Let me explain son. Your mother and I spent 38 years together; completely dedicated to each other in every way. I loved her and I still do very much. We got divorced because she wanted to go and do things that had no interest in. I am okay with this; I want her to be happy. That is what true love is all about son; if you love your wife or husband, you’ll do what it takes to see them happy; even if it means we no longer share the same name, bed or household.”
“so did you just sort of grow apart? I can’t imagine you two being cross with one another.”
“I suppose in ways, yes we did; but our love did not fade and we were never cross with each other, at least in the grand scheme of things. You see, the concept of marriage in the world today is so flawed that I’m not sure if most people even know what it is really about. We fight to preserve the sanctity of marriage in our courts, and teach children what the correct way to love is. This is wrong on so many levels,” he picked up his beer and finished it. Reached into the cooler and cracked open a new one, “it is not the sanctity of marriage we should be preserving, it is our feelings and commitments to one another we should be preserving. It don’t matter if you get legally married or if she gets a ring or you share a last name. It’s really about a commitment to love each other.”
“Well yeah, why else would anyone get married? I know some people use it to get rich or whatever; take advantage of an old mans wealth and such.”
“Listen, love comes in all sorts of flavors. Just because I no longer go to church with her or make pancakes in the morning and watch stupid movies with her, doesn’t mean I don’t love her; though some people would have you think differently. If your mother needed me, I would drop whatever it was I was doin’ and be there in a flash. She wanted to explore the world and not in that Indiana Jones sort of way; she wanted to meet people, hear their stories and share experiences that I could never give her. Everyone has something different to offer; I offered her unconditional love and stability at the core. We did have great spontaneous adventures and got in our fair share of trouble. She wanted other things, and we talked about this at times and I always asked her what she wanted to do and i knew it was my duty as her husband to provide her with happiness, even if it meant letting her go.
Your mother is a very loyal woman; you ought to know that right now. We were never had a moment of infidelity between us. We had discussed that when it was time, we would part ways and let one another explore life as we saw fit. She sends me emails about her travels and the people she meets and I share my songs with her still. She even got a few of ‘em sent to Hollywood! I want her to be unchained in this part of her life. She spent so much time cultivating our family and making sure we all had what we needed and I did the same. She deserves to live her life as she sees fit now. I have seen pictures of her; I don’t think I’ve seen quite as happy as she is now.”
“You mean, she’s happier without you or something?”
“Oh no! No, no, no! She is happier now because she had the opportunity, the blessing to have raised a fine family, spent a lifetime with the man she loved and now gets to be young once again. Wouldn’t you want that for your wife? To see her happier than ever? It’s something you can do no doubt, you’re a good man and I see the way you two hold each other, it’s a true love for sure. Now you must let that love do what it will. Trust it and it will not do you wrong. That’s the only sacred thing, love, and your willingness to uphold that love until death and beyond.”
I looked at my father, he smiled at me cracked open another PBR and picked his guitar up. He began playing a tune he wrote when I and my brother were still in grade school.
“When you feel let down
Let your heart sing to you
It will show you the way
Keep your eyes wide open
Stay on the course and don’t stray.
But when you feel like ev’rything is falling around you
Remember you’ve got me
When it gets too dark, hold my hand
You’ll never go astray, with the love from me.”
We had a few more beers and laughs and before long the sun was going down. We hugged and said our farewells and all that. I started my car and drove off home, knowing that the only thing worth being sacred is love and there was plenty to go around.