My husband, Bill Haney is now 90 years old. The family celebrated his birthday last week. It was a beautiful day here in Bellingham–sunny, pleasantly warm with a gentle breeze, the kind of day that comes to mind when one thinks, “Summer day.” I had reserved our Condo Association’s Activity Center, which is across the street from our house, a building with large windows on all sides and comfortable sofas. We opened all the windows and doors, let the breeze blow through. Bill’s son, Cole and older daughter, Culleen, were here from Wichita and Oklahoma City, both cities in the midst of an extreme heat wave, and that cool breeze felt like heaven.
My daughter Rene ordered barbecue, something Bill loves–ribs, brisket, chicken, sausage, and Bill’s favorite, pulled pork.. Her husband Mike picked it up. My daughter Beni and I provided side dishes–corn bread and macaroni salad, an apple pie and ice cream for dessert. Beni’s husband, Dick, was there as well, eight people total gathered around a large table. We feasted and laughed and enjoyed being together, a wonderful day, exhausting but wonderful.
It’s hard to believe that Bill is 90. He walks along Bellingham Bay three mornings a week. He does all our grocery shopping and takes care of our financial accounts; he is the secretary of our condo association and president of the Master Association of which the condo association is a part. When those tasks are done, he reads and writes. Bill likes to be busy. He likes order and routine plus he has a great sense of humor. He is exactly the life partner I needed, still need—steady, dependable, someone I can count on.
Ours is a marriage made in middle-age age. I met Bill in August 1984. I had been accepted into a PhD program at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California and had a work-study job helping incoming students find housing, a real challenge in Berkeley. Available housing was scarce, rents high. I had been an MA student at the GTU and knew the housing scene. I contacted churches in the area to recruit housing, acted as a reality-therapist for new students as they confronted the fact that they were going to have to pay far more than they planned for, something far less than what they’d envisioned.
Bill was one of the incoming students who came into my office in the month before classes started. He was nice looking, about my age. He handed me his business card, which identified him as the principle architect with a firm in Santa Fe, New Mexico—very interesting. We talked, and he told me he was entering the M.Div. program at Thomas Starr King School for the Ministry, one of the member schools of the GTU. It was a three year program, and he needed more than a just a room, which was the only housing I had on file. He had a U-Haul truck filled with his furniture and other possessions and needed his own apartment. I told him Oakland was his best bet to find something reasonable. I filled out a card on him, and asked that he contact me if he found something so I could take his name out of my Active file. The following Monday he came back to my office to tell me he had found an apartment in Oakland that he liked and had moved in. We chatted a while, and I mentioned that I was in the process of moving into a good housing situation within walking distance of the school. He asked me if I needed any boxes, and I said yes. He offered to go back to his apartment, pick up the boxes and take them to the apartment Orinda where I currently lived. I’d come into Berkeley on the bus, so he came back to the GTU to pick me up. When we got to my apartment, he asked if I needed any help packing. I said that would be great, and he proceeded to pack up all my stuff. He then took me back to my new place in Berkeley and helped me unload the boxes. Six weeks later he helped me move again, this time into his apartment. The following June we celebrated our marriage vows at my daughter Beni’s house in Pittsburg, a small town on the east side of the Berkeley mountains.
Our marriage has known many moves—Berkeley to St. Louis to Columbia, Missouri to Green Valley, Arizona before finally settling here in Bellingham, and it is Bill who has taken on the major part of the packing—that architect eye sees how to best use space, whether it is a room, a box, a truck or the trunk of a car. It’s been a good marriage. I’ve been blessed.