Ron and I met when he was a Captain in the US Air Force, stationed at Hanscome Field outside of Boston, and I was the payroll operations and systems manager at Polaroid by day and getting my MBA by night at Boston University. Was it love at first sight? Who remembers? But what I do remember is that he was the first man I’d known — and there’d been a few — who wasn’t thinking “you’re perfect, I love you, now change.”
We became friends as I dated two of his fellow officers, one of whom was my last valiant attempt at dating a Jewish guy and the other of whom was going to be a doctor, which almost qualified him as Jewish (and who later married a Jewish woman as I recall). My most active anti-war years were behind me, along with the demonstrations, sit-ins and one arrest, but it was still pretty wierd walking into the Officers’ Club on the base.
Ron was (and is) funny, smart, reliable, able to fix almost anything electro/mechanical/even plumbing, and did I mention funny? He shares my love of travel, meeting new (some might say strange) people, casual (some might say crummy) clothes (but now worn with nearly perfect large diamond stud earrings because any fashionista knows that accessories make the outfit), a wide range of intellectual pursuits (here our interests are VERY different but equally non-obsessive), and the list goes on. His acting out of various communication satellites, complete with their “voices,” leaves me ROFL, even now. And it’s really hard to have a lingering fight with someone who’s wiggling their ears.
We took to each other as friends and then, through circumstances that should not be a part of my indelible electronic story, became so much more practically overnight. But Ron was headed to the West Coast when his tour was up (he’d grown up in the Pacific Northwest but had been stationed on Mt. Tamalpais for a while and had fallen in love with California) , and I was a Northeasterner born and bred. More importantly, neither of us had marriage as an exit strategy. So we just enjoyed our time together, although that was very limited by my much more than full-time job and graduate studies and Ron’s several stints of TDY.
As my MBA graduation was in sight, we had the wild idea of my taking time off from work after my graduation and our doing a cross-country camping trip (yes, camping — money was very tight, and it sounded like quite an adventure to a girl whose furthest journey west had been to Pittsburgh). Ron would hang out in San Fran while looking for his first real job (BSEE, MSEE, Air Force), and I would fly ‘home” to pick up where I left off. But Ron’s tour was going to end in December of my last year of graduate school, so he decided to hang out in Boston, working on bio-feedback devices for a semi-crazed inventor, until I graduated.
Well, somewhere along the line, our plans changed, and the cross-country camping trip became our honeymoon. At the end of June, 1972, I graduated from BU with my MBA, said goodbye to my great job at Polaroid, and said I do. It never occurred to either of us that I should change my name, which is just one more thing I loved then and love now about The Wallace. He came with no preconceived notions of who should do what in a marriage or about marriage itself. So off we went, with my shattered parents sobbing because I’d married not only a gentile but an out of work engineer at a time of high unemployment in that field (as evidenced by newspapers clippings on the subject that my mother sent to me quite regularly).
I won’t bore you with the details of the next thirty-eight years, but if spending many weeks in a 6 x 6 foot tent with the occasional night in a crummy motel (just to use a real toilet and shower) and crossing Texas in the blazing summer heat (this before A/C in cars, or at least in the budget car that Ron owned) didn’t end our marriage in its first few months, then this marriage stood a reasonable chance of success. And so it did, but not without a ton of ups and downs and sideways, rescoping, rescheduling, rebudgeting, re-everythinging, just like every wholesale organizational transformation project that you’ve ever seen. Why Ron didn’t run screaming into the night on many an occasion is beyond me, but this is one tough hombre.
And that brings us to today and the impetus for this post. Ron had shoulder surgery this morning, and I so wish I had a third shoulder so that he wouldn’t have to go through what I’ve already been through twice. There’s little in ordinary life more painful that shoulder surgery rehab, and I know he’s facing many weeks to months of that. He doesn’t complain, he just gets on with it. We’ve even had a few laughs today as I try to help him with the things he can’t do with just one hand. You know that part of the traditional marriage ceremony that goes “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health?” Well, if you’re married long enough, all of that and more happens. How very lucky I am to have found The Wallace.