My sister Rachael has been visiting here for the last few days. She’s on her way from Northern California, where she lives, to London to visit her kids and especially her granddaughter Betsy. She and I, being the oldest two of the four Davis girls, as we were called growing up, are very different but also very alike.
We’re different in personality, how we spend our time, some basic interests, but we are very alike in our independence and sense of being in the world. Neither of us has been married for many years, although we both gave the institution a really good try. We grew up in a very traditional household with a strong father but equally strong mother. Her career was taking care of her husband and she did it very well for 62 years until he passed away in 2006. She worked beside him in his medical practice, in his political life–stood by him all the way.
Rachael and I both tried to do that for our husbands, we just didn’t seem to choose men that we could ultimately keep “standing by” for the long haul. And, as we discussed over this recent visit, we also didn’t have enough incentive to compromise ourselves to do it. Was it the husbands that didn’t inspire us or was it we who were unwilling?
Probably a combination of both. Rachael and I reached adulthood in the late 60s during the social and sexual revolution. Politically we were against the war in Viet Nam, we fought against racism, we participated in all sorts of groups focused on raising consciousness for women. Those experiences informed our lives in ways that I am still sorting out.
One of the ways was that we just couldn’t see the point of losing ourselves, our own sense of identity, in order to stay married. I am not saying that other women our age who did or have stayed married lost their identities. Many married men that they could be honest with, who could appreciate them fully. Rachael and I just didn’t choose those kinds of men. Why? I’m not sure, except that I do understand we marry, or choose to be in relationship with, the person that will most help us grow–even it that isn’t apparent at the time.
We both grew immensely from our past relationships, and neither of us regrets having them. But we also have grown from being single, figuring out how to be self-sufficient with no “prince charming” in sight. We’ve done it differently, but we have both managed to stay alive and well into our early 60s.
And not only is there no “prince charming” in sight for us, neither of us holds much hope for even going on a fun date at this point. It feels like that is just too far out of the realm of possibility. The good and bad are that for me, it is hard to give up my romantic musings completely–I still love stories about relationships, I still love the idea of having a boyfriend and a lover. And in her own way, I think Rachael would also.
The big But is that neither of us seems to be willing to bend ourselves into a pretzel to keep a man around–and the kinds I have been involved with over the last 20 years seem to have required that. I’m not blaming all men–I’m sure my “picker ability” has been faulty. I attracted men that I didn’t, in the long run, feel were worth that kind of effort.
So, Rachael and I may very likely be single for the rest of our lives. At the moment, we’re okay with that because we have some really great blessings to count: our grandchildren, our children, our health, our mother is still vibrant and well at almost 85, and we have meaningful work and really great friends.
Not so bad for a couple of single girls moving well into their senior years………