We said, “I do,”– they said we didn’t

I have to provide an official copy of our marriage certificate to the Indiana BMV to get the security clearance driver’s license. After waiting seven months on the state of Missouri, where we were married, the envelope finally came—with a letter saying they have no record of us ever being married.

Forty years.

Three kids.

Eleven grandkids.


The husband read the letter and was as stunned as I was.

Moments later, he was running through the house yelling, “FREE MAN!”

Free Man announced that if anything should suddenly happen to him, he’d like his obituary to refer to me as his “long-time companion.”

I laughed along with the rest of them. Then I told Free Man that he could do his own laundry.

News spread quickly among our friends. One, a pastor, sent a message saying he and some fellow clergy would like to have a discussion with the husband along the lines of making an honest woman out of me.

I told him I was ahead of him and had already informed Free Man that he’d be sleeping on the sofa.

Then the rumbling started about getting married again.

The youngest said, “So when people ask how long my parents have been married, I guess I’ll just say, ‘They were married in 2019, but they were together 40 years before that.’”

Offers of flower girls came in waves. Our daughter-in-law in Chicago sent a picture of their 10-month-old toddling behind a push toy and said, “She’s practicing!”

Nine of our 11 grands are little girls. The oldest is 9, followed by 8-year-old twins. Knowing the flower girl field would be crowded, they asked if they could be junior bridesmaids.

“Well, I’d need a proposal first,” I said.

“And a bigger ring!” one of the girls yelled.

I liked the direction this was headed. “I’ll want a bridal shower,” I said.  “We need new silverware. And towels. Maybe I’ll start a bridal registry online. I’m definitely checking the box that says we’ll accept cash.”

Away from the din of excitement and endless jokes, I wondered how you prove you were married when the state says you weren’t.

Our wedding book was buried in the closet, covered with dust. Tucked inside were five newspaper clippings from three different states about our wedding.

Our real ace in the hole was that we were both photojournalists when we married and nearly every wedding guest under 30 was a newspaper photographer as well. My mother said there were so many cameras clicking and flashes firing that it felt more like a breaking news event than a wedding.

I called the church where we were married, knowing a huge fire had destroyed most of the building a few years after we were married. The lady who answered the phone became distraught on our behalf and quickly transferred me to someone else who keeps records.

Within minutes, that woman had her hands on a church document with a number on it. She said it wasn’t like the wedding license numbers today, but maybe it was a start.

Meanwhile, the man who has found a million ways to drive me nuts over 40 years with his penchant for record keeping, his fascination with numbers and refusal to throw anything away, located the receipt he signed for our marriage license at the county clerk’s office. There was a number on it that matched the number the church had.

I called Missouri, gave them the number and a clerk found the license. She said she’ll send us a copy by mail.

We hope it arrives before our 50th.

A few wrinkles in the anti-aging creams

I want my money back. Even more than wanting my money back, I want to quit getting sucked in.

I was leafing through a magazine and saw a full-page ad for a moisturizer claiming it yielded better results than similar expensive creams costing $200, $300 and $400.

Amazing, I thought. Maybe I should get this.

Then I realized I already have it. I purchased it a month ago. I don’t know what a $400 cream will do, but this little baby didn’t do anything.

It’s in a drawer along with a new lotion I saw advertised on television that will erase lines and wrinkles from your neck. I’ve had lines on my neck since I was 7 years old. I just learned they’re called necklace lines. I would have preferred the jewelry.

I bought the neck cream for a few bucks at the grocery. Threw it right in the cart along with the lettuce, onions and chicken like it was a staple. It probably should be.

My neck and décolletage or decoupage or whatever you call it have not noticeably improved.


The commercial says 90 percent of women saw noticeable improvement in two weeks. How is it that I am always in the 10 percent that never sees improvement?

If we all saw the age-defying results that all the creams, moisturizers and wrinkle-erasers promise, nearly every woman would be walking around looking like a 20-year-old.

So, your 20-year-old son says to his 20-year-old girlfriend, “Meet my mother. Yes, she does look your age, doesn’t she?” How confusing.

As much as we’d like to turn back the hands of time, it’s not possible. You might be able to nudge the second hand a notch or two, but beyond that it’s virtually impossible. Not even with a sledge hammer. A scalpel and a plastic surgeon, maybe, but not a sledge hammer.

Not long ago, one of the grands was sitting next to me and I felt her staring at my face. Finally, she said, “Grandma, did you know you have lines on your lips?”

She said it with the same sort of alarm I would use asking if anyone else heard the smoke detector going off.

I ignored her.

“Well, did you, Grandma?”

I continued ignoring her.

She got right up in my face, pointing with her soft little 6-year-old finger, and in her sweet little voice said, “And you have lines here and here and here.”

Who needs a magnifying mirror?

And yet I still slather on the creams, hoping against hope, working to preserve what is left.

We took four grands to a small museum recently. An elderly woman working the front desk asked if they were my kids or my grandkids. I knew better than to let it go to my head, which was a good thing because in the next breath she told me to park my bicycle outside.

I didn’t have a bicycle. I had a stroller. And a baby was in it.

I rest my case. And my face.

 

Competition for babysitters heats up

One of the grands barrels toward me and squeals, “It’s hard not to let the beans out, Grandma.”

“What beans?” I ask.

“Mom said not to spill the beans.”

“You’re keeping a secret from me?”

“It’s not a secret. It’s beans. We’re keeping beans.”

“What are these beans about?”

“Mom is hiring a babysitter to watch us when she and Dad go out on a date. Mom said you’re too busy to watch us, but not to tell you about the sitter because you might not like that and that’s why we’re not supposed to spill the beans.”

“Wonderful,” I say, lying through my teeth. “What’s the sitter’s name?”

“Olivia,” she says with a breathy air of rhapsody. Her big brown eyes flutter and she nearly swoons.  “Pretty name,” I say. “Did your mother do a background check?”

“What’s a background check, Grandma?”

“Well, you can go online and—oh, never mind.”

“And guess what else, Grandma? She’s a teeeeeeen-ager!”

“Well, it just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it, dear?”

She said teenager in a fashion that lets me know she is officially throwing down the gauntlet. I am in competition with a teenager. Make that teeeeeeen-ager.

Clearly, this round will go to Olivia, as Grandma is on her way to becoming a seeeeeeenior and nobody swoons when they say senior.

“We had her babysit once before. Remember?”

“I do remember. I was restless all night.”

“Hey, Grandma, can you make a blade of grass whistle?”

She hands me a rough blade of grass. I place it between my fingers and try blowing on it, but nothing. I try again and again. I’ve got a cut on my lip from the blade of grass and drool on my hands. It is not going well.

“Olivia can make a blade of grass whistle.”

“That’s nice,” I say. “Can she do a barred owl call?”

“I don’t know Grandma, but she does cartwheels. Can you do a cartwheel?”

“Does Olivia have a baton?” I ask.

The kids discovered my old twirling baton under a bed not long ago. If I clear a six-mile radius, I can still throw it in the air and catch it and nobody gets a head injury.

“I don’t think she has a baton, Grandma, but Olivia can do roundoffs. Can you do roundoffs?”

Not since the 1990s, kid. Clearly, if I want to stay in the running, I’ll have to set the ends of the baton on fire.

“Guess what else, Grandma? Olivia is going to prom!”

Prom? There’s no way I can compete with prom.

“I’m going home now, Sweetie. Have a lovely evening with the sitter. Call me if you need anything, but I’m going to be very busy tonight.”

“What are you doing tonight, Grandma?”

“Baking my famous sugar cookies.”

From the look on her face, I may still be in the running after all.