A July Love Story

This is a love story prompted by the calendar in my Mac. It has color codings for categories of events and I noticed that this month is rife with “hot pink” entries: anniversaries.

As one grows richer in years and experience there is also a treasury of specific, significant events one begins to notice. For some reason, unlike many folks, especially husbands, I’ve always been a rememberer of anniversaries. It turns out that July is a big month – a treasure trove – of major occasions in my life.

July has four milestones, three of which are happy.

11 July 1935 in Bristol, Virginia I entered this incarnation. No more need be said about it other than that I escaped the south to Los Angeles thirteen years later.

26 July 1967, Mount Gretna Pennsylvania, a summer stock production of Carousel – I arrived on the third day of rehearsal. (This is a highly truncated story from my first book, Three Stages.)

Sitting in the front row was a lovely young woman with a Shetland Sheep Dog at her feet. I didn’t know who she was but it was as though there was a pin spotlight on her and all the others in the room faded from view. Her presence hit me like a velvet sledge hammer. It was confusing.

I learned that the mesmerizing lady’s name was Betsy Hepburn and that she was playing “Carrie”, the comedienne, who marries “Mr. Snow”. I was thrilled with her voice and the comic personality with which she sang. She was really good and that was a relief.

Betsy Hepburn & Dennis Britten in "Carousel"

Betsy Hepburn & Dennis Britten in “Carousel”

I did not know it at the time but I’d been waiting for thirty-two years to meet this wonderful woman. Exactly four months later she married me (for the first time). As you may have guessed, that’s a whole other story – and much of a book.

13 July 1996, New York City: the sole unhappy July milestone was the day she left. (Excerpt from Waiting for Elizabeth)

So there I was, two weeks short of the thirtieth anniversary of meeting the love of my life and she was gone. Words fail me but I’ll try a few: Desolate, Devastated, Heartbroken, Angry – after thirty years as half of a pair I was, again, a singleton. How the hell did this happen to me? How did I let it happen? How did I cause it to happen?

There were no answers. There was only emptiness and a feeling of unworthiness. If the person who knew me better than anyone had rejected me what good was I to anyone else?

The next few days were … grim. As folks often say after the death of a loved one, I went through the motions.

There’s a lot more to this story, at least a quarter of a book’s worth. Yet from the same book:

24 July 2005 New York City – the happiest of these events – my SweetHeart moved back into our house. And once again after nine lonely years, it was a home.

Ben & Elizabeth a Love Story

Ben & Elizabeth a Love Story

In the middle of another July Elizabeth and I are looking forward to celebrating a pair of so called Golden Anniversaries, the date of our meeting and 25 November the date of our first wedding.

Ben & Elizabeth Wedding #1

Ben & Elizabeth Wedding #1

Here’s to our next fifty years!

Coda: For the record, she married me again in 2010 – just not in July.

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