Dream and plan as we may we do not know what our day, marriage or life will bring us. My life has bestowed upon me many splendid things and foremost of my blessings is my wife: She is my alpha and omega, my first and last, my beginning and my end. We celebrate thirty-three years of marriage next month, thirty-three years of partnership, thirty-three years of support and thirty-three years of surviving, living and, at times, embracing the unexpected.
My days begin early. The clock seldom reaches five before I rise while my beloved prefers to sleep in. Why, the woman would sleep well into the nine o’clock hour if she could! Scandalous!
On April twenty-eighth we were in our car and on our way as the sun rose on our Raleigh home, one bicycle prepped for racing, one partner kitted up to run five kilometers, cycle 30 and then run another 5-K. “Durga,” aka the goddess Patricia, had an 8:00 a.m. race start and, bike prepped by her personal mechanic, we were off to the races.
While Patricia, unlike me, remains very age-group competitive our solo racer situation was a decision based on prudence rather than disinclination. I was performing in Cary Player’s production of Four Weddings and an Elvis at 3:00 and nowhere in the script did it indicate that my character, Bryce Cannon! would appear on stage exhausted and limping. I would gladly have completed as those around me competed, but instead spectated, cheered and immortalized her event with camera in hand. Besides, my workmate Jack Lowdermilk was racing too and I was glad to lend support to him as well.
Despite the time commitment, we left at 6:30 and did not arrive home until nearly noon, I had fun, especially enjoying finding opportunities to immortalize Jack and Patricia in photos as they duked it out in their respective race heats. (BTW- Jack won his age group with a 1:42:25 while PTK took home an age group bronze with 2:05:47.) Pat had a great time while I enjoyed myself.
Having met part one of our day’s trilogy of expectations we move on to Las Vegas via the Cary Arts Center and our matinee performance of Four Weddings and an Elvis.
I love acting, it is a great outlet for me in myriad ways and Patricia enjoys watching me perform. Most of the time. I participated in community theatre in Iowa for six years, did not while we lived in the limbo that is Florida, and started back up the beginning of 2019 in Raleigh. I love it, Pat likes it. Except Shakespeare. She doesn’t dig him. She doesn’t get “artsy” theatre either; she’s just not a fan.
In January I was cast in Raleigh Little Theatre’s production of Measure for Measure, my third foray into Shakespeare. Pat came to Measure along with my two brothers and sisters far more to show support for me than for the show itself. Left to her own devices she would not attend Shakespeare plays and I get it.
Shakespeare is hard to understand and not her idea of theatre fun. As Measure was wrapping up I was cast in Bare Theatre’s production of William Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens, an even more difficult play to follow. Our Timon was anything but light and fluffy and my poor wife was left confused, perplexed and nonplussed by our production. Hey, everybody doesn’t like something. Following Timon I was cast in a play I knew she would greatly enjoy, Cary Players production of Nancy Frick’s fun, silly, moving comedy, Four Weddings and an Elvis.
Despite knowing that she was tired after her two plus hours of early a.m. exertion I asked my beloved to drive with me to the theatre rather than take separate cars. After much cajoling she acquiesced, though that meant she would arrive a full hour before curtain. Once convinced, I added the caveat that after the matinee I was off to Pequod Productions, “Fairest Creatures 2019 The Sonnets of William Shakespeare,” a marathon reading of The Bard’s 154 sonnets hosted by Kurt Benrud in which I was reading Sonnet 19. The goddess was not amused, but she conceded. (Shall I compare her to a summer’s day?)
I was right about two things, Pat greatly enjoyed Four Weddings and an Elvis and she was indeed fatigued. We drove from the Cary Arts Center to Sonorous Road Theatre, grabbed a quick dinner before the marathon and I took my seat for the first hour’s readings. I sat, silently reviewing Sonnet 19 and occasionally looking up to watch the audience seats fill. In horror I watched as a man sat next to my beloved. I looked at him and shuddered, my mind telling me from fifty-feet away exactly how our fellow theatre patron smelled. Oh, it was obvious and I knew.
My beloved’s sensitivity to body odor has been immortalized in verse, my poem, “One Part per Million,” is autobiographical. I could feel her squirm, I heard her tired mind weigh moving from her seat to another but the seats were all full. What to do? What to do? She stayed seated and listened.
Our Shakespeare readers were a mixed bag. While many of my fellow two dozen first-round readers were excellent some seemed as perplexed by The Bards 450 years past-tense vernacular as my beloved. I rose on cue, introduced myself and delivered Sonnet 19, staring directly into my beloved’s eyes as I delivered the last rhyming couplet. After the first hour the marathon took a short break. I made eye contact with Durga, gave her my most penetrating glance and, as we headed out the door whispered in her ear, “Not one word until we’re in the car.” Amazingly, she obeyed.
I am blessed to have my mate. We are blessed in each other. I selected Sonnet 19 as a tribute to her. Below are Shakespeare’s 140 syllables in ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG rhyme pattern. She is my alpha and omega, my first and last, my beginning and my end. I know just how blessed I am in her.
William Shakespeare Sonnet 19-
Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-liv’d Phoenix in her blood;
Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleets,
And do whate’er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
To the wide world and all her fading sweets;
But I forbid thee one more heinous crime:
O, carve not with the hours my love’s fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen!
Him in thy course untainted do allow
For beauty’s pattern to succeeding men.
Yet do thy worst, old Time! Despite thy wrong
My love shall in my verse ever live young.