Sunday, September 27, 2015

30 years of adventure and teamwork

Our wedding, 9/27/85
Peter and I are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. The actual date is September 27, but our observance will extend through our annual mid-October meander into the countryside to enjoy fall color.

I was 42 and not looking to get married when I met Peter at a business meeting. I thought I was happy and fulfilled. But he showed me what it could be like to be loved, and we were married less than six months after we met.

We've grown and changed a lot since then. We learned we could be a great team; our individual talents and perspectives complement one another and we can accomplish a lot when we decide to work for something we believe in. He's helped me take more risks and speak up; I've helped him be a little less the aggressive New-Yorker-in-a-china-shop. He is, by the way, a much more nurturing person than I know how to be.

When we were first discussing marriage, Peter said the secret of our happiness would be the small quiet moments--if we took time to appreciate them. At our ages, he said, we were unlikely to set off on new adventures. He was right about the moments, but wrong about adventure. We've undertaken three life-changing projects together. 

Cafesjian's Carousel
Three years into our marriage, we led a very public effort to rescue a beautiful historic carousel. Through a nonprofit organization we founded for this purpose, we steered the carousel through several threats to its existence, moved it twice, did a museum-quality restoration on its 68 horses, and now operate it as Cafesjian's Carousel in Saint Paul's Como Park. We secured millions of dollars in support, recruited more than 1,000 volunteers, and proved that you can fight City Hall--and win. (We tell the whole improbable story in a book we published last summer.)

This year we have begun working to replace ourselves with new leaders, a transition that is not easy. The carousel has been a full-time preoccupation for 27 of our 30 years together, and it forged our relationship. Together, the team of "Peter-and-Nancy" has often been far bolder, more entrepreneurial, and more wildly successful than either of us could have been--or even imagined--alone. It's hard to let go of that role. On the other hand, we feel a responsibility to pass along what we know to those who will carry the work forward. Besides, we are tired and it's time to move on.

Meanwhile we've been season ticket holders for Saint Paul Saints minor-league baseball since 1993, and for years we really threw ourselves into it. We attended nearly every home game, tailgating before each game and forming good friendships with players, coaches, staff, players' families, vendors, and other fans. Saints games became our social life until changes broke up the community we had enjoyed. This summer, the team moved to a new downtown stadium that is difficult to access for those of us with bad knees. Instead of attending 45 or 50 games, we made about 15 this year, and we're already thinking it will be fewer next year. Gradually and sadly we are giving up a beloved activity that was another big part of our shared identity.

Legos--a favorite family activity
Our most fulfilling role, of course, is helping care for our two much-loved grandchildren. Peter was a devoted father to his daughter Abby, and he knew he wanted to provide regular daycare for her children while she and Eric worked (both are teachers.) The moment Augie was born, I wanted to be part of his life as well. Gradually I cut back my working hours and when I was able to retire we became Peter-and-Nancy the fulltime grandparent team. These days Augie and ViMae are in grades 2 and 3; we have them for about 90 minutes before dropping them at school each day, we pick them up some days, and we enjoy frequent play dates. They will need less from us as they grow up, but this is a role from which we never want to retire.

As we move forward, Peter and I need to find new ways to spend time together, to foster our relationship and to replace activities and identities that shaped our first 30 years together. For starters, we are planning a back porch where we can sit together on long Minnesota evenings and admire the garden, listen to music, maybe even listen to a baseball game. Our grandchildren and their parents are welcome to join us any time.

I am content. I have enjoyed being with this man who once promised to "throw a monkey wrench into your well ordered life." He certainly did, and the results were surprising, challenging, sometimes perplexing, often amazing. Now, at the 30-year mark, we are negotiating some transitions. I am pretty sure that we are up to the challenge, and that the outcome will be worth the work.

I love you, Peter Boehm. I love being loved by you, and I love the life we have created together. I hope we have lots more wonderful moments together, and maybe even some rewarding but slightly less taxing adventures!  

P.S., The story of how we met begins here.   

P.P.S., This is posted to Grandma’


Unknown said...

A man couldn't ask for a better partner. Sitting next to you on a warm summer night scoring a baseball game, holding your hand while we ride our carousel, or sharing special moments with our wonderful grandkids, I can't imagine a more rewarding 30 years. I'm not that excited about growing old, but I am so happy that I get to face the future side by side with you. I adore you.---P

Teresa Evangeline said...

This is absolutely beautiful, Nancy, and so is the story of your meeting ... Happy Anniversary!!

Unknown said...

Happy anniversary to you, you are a remarkable couple. Your story brought tears to my eyes. It is filled with love, but more importantly it is fill with "liking one another".

Far Side of Fifty said...

Happy Anniversary may your adventures never end...just change as you grow older together:)

stephen Hayes said...

An inspiring post. I'm so glad that you two found each other, and I hope you enjoy another thirty years together.

DJan said...

How very wonderful! I met my husband when I turned 50, and now we've been together for a third of our lives! Happy anniversary to you and Peter, Nancy. I am glad we are Facebook friends, too. :-)

Sally Wessely said...

Congratulations! I loved reading your story. I did not know that you had married Peter later in life. Retirement certainly does take new negotiations doesn't it? This time of life is so rich even as it presents its challenges. May you both have good health as you move towards that 50 year mark. I think you will make it! said...

I was struck by your line, "They will need less from us as they grow up," because that is exactly what we are going through. The gramps says he feels useless when we visit our grown kids [they don't live near us so it's a journey] and our growing-up grandkids [now 7, 12 and 14]. Certainly they don't need us in the same way as they used to. But isn't that as it should be--we bring them up to be independent and then, darn it, they are. Which doesn't mean we don't still have a lot to offer.

Jeanie said...

I love every word of this post, my friend. And I loved Peter's comment, too. You are indeed a pair, a team. Partners to the max. And reading this is an inspiration and a fabulous guideline for setting and creating a powerful relationship that moves forward with time, never standing still, becoming stagnant.

I love that you share some of the same passions and that you share those passions with Augie and ViMae and the others who are inspired by your dedication. It will be hard to pull back from the carousel but you are very right in saying that it must move forward with new blood. There will be new ideas that come with that and some may (or may not) make you cringe, and that will be a test. But you have created not only a relationship but a world and life that enriches others and for this, I salute you. Happy Anniversary. May there be many more!

Lisa @ Grandmas Briefs said...

Happy Anniversary!! I love your carousel story. And your commitment to your adorable grandchildren. Such a sweet love and family story all around. Thank you for sharing in the GRAND Social!

Unknown said...

This is beautiful and so is your husband's comment. You are both exceptionally lucky. Not everyone finds that perfect person to spend the quiet moments with -- and you have! May you have many, many more years together.

Ms Sparrow said...

How I envy the wonderful life you two have shared. There is much to be said for mature relationships! Happy Anniversary to you both!


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