Yesterday we had an experience that has me thinking.
Thinking in a good way, but also thinking in a kind of serious way.
It was a pretty typical weekend day for us. We had invited some guests to come for dinner and spend the afternoon with us.
Not “guests” as in “people you need to impress” but “guests” as in “family, people who get it, people you just really want to spend your day with.”
All would have been well as we prepared to make dinner for two young couples with little kids if only Nonni here hadn’t come down with a nasty bout of asthmatic bronchitis.
Nonni woke up yesterday feeling (as my mom used to say), “Like something the cat dragged in.” My husband, also known as “the sweetest man in the world,” let me sleep late while he dealt with our old hound and our new puppy. He even took said puppy to the vet.
But when it was time to make dinner, I asked him for help. This is an unusual request from an over functioning, over controlling Italian woman, but I did. I asked for help.
Then company arrived. Our beloved young folks, with babies in arms, arrived as planned. And “Papa” went straight into Grandfather Host mode. He was charming, hugging babies, pouring beer, chatting and laughing.
Meanwhile, Nonni was sauteeing and coughing in the kitchen.
Nonni was NOT amused.
Nonni was, in fact, crabby, cranky and slightly snarling.
Both young women asked how they could help.
All of the men stayed on the couch.
Finally, Nonni growled at Papa.
And here is the point of this post.
When a couple argues during a more than 40 year relationship, this is what it means.
It means that sometimes humans misunderstand each other. Even humans who love each other and want what is best for each other.
I remember, back in about 1980, every argument felt like the end of the relationship. Every time I lost my temper, every time my husband lost his, it felt like the end of the world. I tried so hard to always push down my irritation, swallow my needs, keep the boat from rocking.
But now that my one true love and I have come through graduate school, two separate careers, raising three children, falling head over heels in love with a grandchild, and even living with three different dogs….well.
Now I understand that when I’m mad at Paul, or when he’s mad at me, it means “I’m mad at you.”
It doesn’t mean “I hate your.” or “I want a divorce” or “You are a terrible person.”
The best part of getting older, maybe, is the realization that you can get really annoyed at the person you love, and still love them in the morning.