I’ve been writing posts about events that make me laugh, although this post will fall more into the ironic category than the humor one. But the irony is what makes it funny.
Al and I were married on September 12,1971 in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The person that conducted the ceremony was Reverend Delbert Gault. He was the youth minister at my mother’s church in West Palm Beach, Florida. I had attended that church during my last two years of high school.
We went to one of the services at GLIDE Memorial Methodist Church before our ceremony. Glide is a special type of church, in no way a “normal” one. It came to be known for bringing together LGBTQ+ (this was the early 70s so that was not the name of the group then), hippies, the homeless and other counter-culture communities.
Glide was in the hotel district which was in the Tenderloin, a poor part of San Francisco. I used to enjoy watching the bewildered looks on the faces of people from the hotels when they realised this was not going to be a normal Methodist service. It was a celebration of life that included singing and dancing.
The lines to get into the church regularly went around several city blocks. Every spare space in the church was filled. People even sat in the windowsills. What I remember about the service that we attended on the day we were married is that Roberta Flack sang, and Quincy Jones played the piano for her.
Although it was historically a United Methodist Church, at some point they must have disassociated because Methodist was removed from the name of the church.
After our wedding ceremony in the park, we had a potluck dinner. At that time, Jane Fonda, who happened to be in the park, holding a child on her shoulders, came up to us and wished us well. It had been a magical and exciting day.
We moved to Seattle after the wedding (I had been living in Oakland since I graduated from college… but that is a story for another day). We were together for 7 years and during that time we had 2 beautiful children that as adults became known as Satvamrita (the name he was given when he was initiated as a brahmachari-monk) and Chaitanya (the name she was given when she asked Amma to name her)
Three years after our separation, I attended a workshop. As I listened to the guest speaker, I realized I had been passive about getting a divorce. So, I prepared and turned in my divorce papers soon after I returned from the workshop.
By then we had been married for 10 years. I discovered that because we’d been married that long, I would be eligible to receive the difference between his amount of social security benefits and mine after he died. His administrative job with the City of Seattle certainly paid more than what I made as a nurse psychotherapist.
For years, I had expected that I would get the difference between our amounts of Social Security added to mine. He worked with the Social Security office so that everything would be done ahead of time. That way, all I would have to do is call the Social Security Administration office and I would start receiving the new monthly allotment. Regardless of his preparatory work, I discovered after he passed in January 2022, that I would have to apply for the extra income. I wondered what additional “red tape” I would have to do.
My daughter, Chaitanya volunteered to look for the original copies of the marriage and divorce certificates and found the marriage certificate eventually in the Alameda County records. But much to her and my surprise, we found that King County Superior Court had no records to support that our divorce had ever occurred. I realized that I must have turned in the papers, but I didn’t know I was supposed to follow through with anything further. Chaitanya eventually said to me, “Are you sure you two were ever divorced?”
So, I had been married for 50 years instead of 10, and now I was a widow instead of a divorcee. My adult kids and I thought it was funny and Al would have too. Luckily the Social Security staff also laughed or else they might have put up some roadblocks to increasing my monthly check.
Before he died, Al and I would spend time together. I would go over his place to watch Seattle Seahawk games. By the time he passed, we were talking to each other every day. I know that he was sad that he was in no shape to help me. He had had multiple sclerosis for almost 40 years by then and heart problems for 20 years. He had no idea how much his daily calls helped me. Even I didn’t know until they were no more. At some point during that time, I had a dream that we had remarried but I told only a few people about that. I was glad that I was no longer angry, but I was not willing to go that far in reconnecting! In the end, we all got a good laugh at the circumstances.