Posted by: zhak39 | November 8, 2005

November 8

If they were here or I were there, we would celebrate. I would make her shrimp curry with fragrant basmati rice. I would tell her a little fib, ‘no worries, it’s light coconut milk–there are hardly any calories at all.’ I would make him cutlets from turkey tenderloin in a marsala sauce and a creamy risotto with freshly grated locatelli. I would offer her a Tsing Tao to cool the spice and give him a spritzer made from Dr Brown’s Cream Soda and a shot of dark red Italian wine–sweet and warming.

And it would not be just me, the children would insist on helping. Sam would set the table for them with french white on white china and freshly polished utensils. Chris would be busy in the kitchen whipping chocolate and cream for a melt in your mouth mousse. Helen would carry them small trays with delightful treats, crunchy puff pastries with kiwi and strawberries.

And we would sit together and smile across the table. We would talk about school and art and politics and computer games. Or we would sit together and smile and not talk at all.

Then when the children had cleared away the dishes and crumbs, we would sit a little while longer and I would exact my charge for this wonderful time because at root, I am not a selfless person. My price would be an explanation; not the when, where or why but the how. How did you do it? How do you continue to do it?

How do two people align there lives for almost fifty years and continually support each other? How did you know the moment you saw her on the steps of the girls’ dormitory that autumn afternoon and how did you manage to follow through? How did you recognize him and not let him slip away with all the stresses and demands of being a smart and dedicated and ambitious and talented young woman with the limited opportunities of the 1950’s? How did you maintain your sense of self and your unity as a couple through the years long process of birthing, raising a family and letting go? How do you shape and align two separate lives into parallel strands so that neither one fouls but rather strengthens the other despite external and internal obstacles and tensions?

And they would look across the table at one another and smile. And in his eyes would be not ‘my children’s mother’ or even ‘my wife,’ but simply ‘Patty.’ And in her eyes would be, ‘how do you explain a no-brainer?’

Happy Anniversary to Pat and Dan Billeci, wed November 8, 1958.


  1. Thank you for the best kind of anniversary gift. The love shows through. How do we do it you ask. It’s easy when you care about each other. We are from the “Nothing generation” and we were taught to put one foot in front of another and go.

    Thanks again to our special little girl.ioskyhcz

  2. The ‘Nothing generation.’ That’s very interesting. We must talk about that sometime.

    What is ‘ioskyhcz’?

  3. ioskyhcz is the secret word that you have to copy to make this comment appear on the blog. We typed it in the little box, but don’t ask me how it got appended to our comment. What am I – a programmer?

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