It will be 2 years on July 13th since Mary McIntyre passed-away. On July 16th it will be the fifth anniversary of the passing of Keith Pulley.
For the past 18 months, Keith’s former wife Patricia and I have shared a new common law relationship. While our connection was almost instantaneous, we have not always felt comfortable. There was something about the bond of our previous long-term relationships that had us questioning the value and need of another relationship. Could a new relationship be as fulfilling as our past relationships? Relationships that had each lasted decades. How wise, or even possible, was it for two older people with many “set-in-our-ways” habits, to make new adjustments? What are the financial ramifications of a new relationship? How does a Canadian and an American work out cultural and border issues? Most importantly, how do we describe the relationship to our families who wonder if we are being silly at our age (we are both in our 70s) to set up housekeeping given we had had such good relationships with our now deceased spouses.
Being in a relationship with another person who has also had a great relationship with someone in the past, is like living with four people. Over the past 18 months, Pat and I on several occasions bring up our former spouse’s names. We wonder aloud what they might have thought about situations – especially about Covid-19. When we cook together or do housework, we share stories about how it was done, or not done, in our previous relationships. We will look at things that make us happy and often say it is a sign from Keith and Mary that they are ok with us being together. We use their names frequently not only as a way to remember them but also as a way not to forget them. It is like they live on through us.
Periodically we also question why they had to die, while we lived. We have frequently questioned the circumstances that had us survive them. With it comes the inevitable question of what it would have been, if it had been them who survived, and we who had died. When this happens, we never fail to remember them as loving and caring people who would have wanted us to survive them. We remember them as mentors to both of us. We are convinced that much of our work and personal successes were because we lived with them. They taught us with positive outlooks and caring ways. It was Keith and Mary that made us better people. They rounded out our hard edges and taught us how to see the rest of the world in the best possible light. It is because of them that we now share a relationship with each other and with our kids and with old and new friends in ways that would not have been possible if they had not been with us early on. It is because of them being with us in spirit even now that we have such enriched relationships.
In my consulting capacity, I have often described the element of learning. Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom. To use an example, 27/08/45 is data. When you know that is my birthday, it becomes information. When you compare and calculate between my birthday data and todays date, you can calculate that I am 74. That becomes knowledge. It is only when you begin to understand what it means to be a 74-year-old widower (or a 72-year-old widow) that you begin to think in terms of wisdom. While data and information are quantitative, knowledge and wisdom require context and analysis.
It is with the context of knowing how much our current happiness is due to our previous relationships that we approach the passing of Keith and Mary. The bottom line is, that our new relationship is not about forgetting our past, but instead knowing that where we are and where we go from here is in no small part because of our relationship with them. Through us they continue to enhance our future because of their past and on-going presence in our lives.
Pat and I are still healthy and still planning to see more of the world. We care deeply for our families but even more deeply for each other. Our window of time to do things is predictably shorter than many and for that reason that we set our own priorities over the opinions of the outside world.
Rest in Peace Keith and Mary. You did a great job and we are grateful!