A Valentine’s Day Thought

Kiss Briseis Painter Louvre G278
Who is she looking at? Isn’t this a painting? Never mind…Happy Valentine’s Day anyway.

On this Valentine’s Day, Onlooker Slowdown would like to turn your attention, just for a minute, from the various love stories gone awry that dominate the media. Let’s set aside Kris Humphries’ 72 days inside Kardashian Hell.

Wait a minute, though. I just have to get this off my chest. What on earth is the 1976 Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon, the WORLD’S GREATEST FREAKING ATHLETE, doing wearing a pair of stud earrings, doing his best imitation of the receptionist from “The Bob Newhart Show”? At what point does (a) the U.S. Olympic Committee step in and say, “Um, Bruce, we’re going to need that medal back. Clearly you didn’t throw that javelin as far as they thought you did, and, yeah, that 1500-meter run finish was Photoshopped, and (b) the Kardashian matriarch trade him in for, say, Mark Phelps? When will it be time to move on to an Olympian of the past ten years?

OK, thank you for humoring me. As someone who spends a good deal of time defending the Olympics as a decent use of television watching time, I’ve been putting this off way too long.

As I was saying, let’s set aside the tragic love stories associated with Gary Giordano and Seal, and put down the headlines about Josh Powell, and focus on a truly wonderful Valentine’s Day story.

Thanks to ABC News, Onlooker Slowdown is able to bring you the story of Grayce and Clarence Dwyer. This couple from Madison, New Jersey, has been married for 71 years. They are both 100 years old.  No midlife decisions to buy a Bugati and date younger. Four kids, 17 grandkids, and 12 great-grandchildren.

What’s their secret? As Grayce puts it, “Life was not meant to be easy, so you surround yourself with good people and always have a strong faith that will help you through the hard times.”

Now, that sort of advice won’t sell magazines, and that sort of life doesn’t make for a thrilling movie, unless one partner ends up with a degenerative condition and the other takes care of him/her (see: The Notebook).

We are entertained by tension and titillated by failure. The next time we’re standing in line at Kroger, we’ll look at the headlines of failure, of scandal, of lives torn apart when relationships suffer. But get this — both of them have recently had hip surgery, and both survived heavy anesthesia and significant physical therapy — unusual at their age. As their daughter says, “We believe [their recovery] is a testament to the love they have for each other.”

Full disclosure — Onlooker Slowdown has been divorced once, and is now closing in on five years of Marriage #2. We still have 66 years to go to catch the Dwyers; when I turn 106, we’ll only have 10 months to go to get to Year 71. But there’s something fine and wondrous about a couple that stays together so long and is so closely attuned to one another.

It’s a note of subtlety — of gestures shared, sentences finished, needs anticipated. It’s the hard work of a partnership built one day, one hour, one minute, one mistake, one instance of grace at a time.

Just for today, for St. Valentine’s Day, let’s forget about Keeping Up with the Kardashians, or reading about Jennifer Aniston’s latest comment about Brangelina.

Also, don’t think about what kind of show Keeping Up with the Dwyers would be. Instead, think about what an amazing achievement it would be.

Happy Valentine’s Day…from Onlooker Slowdown.

Image credit: By English: Briseis Painter Français : Peintre de Briséis (Jastrow (2006)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AKiss_Briseis_Painter_Louvre_G278.jpg

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2 Responses to “A Valentine’s Day Thought”

  1. Separate bathrooms contribute to relationship longevity -Wanda

  2. That's what Johnny Cash said, too.

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