An an­niver­sary wish to the mu­sic in my life Love and mar­riage have their own sweet rhythm and it’s won­der­ful to share

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - THOMAS FROESE

It’s a warm and or­di­nary day, warm and or­di­nary enough to run around in shorts and bare feet.

The chil­dren’s mother, your babe, that is your bride, is play­ing your song. The cats are in front and the dog’s in back and the kids are do­ing home­work and noth­ing much is hap­pen­ing, ex­cept this song from the pi­ano in the other room, the piece that makes your blood jump ev­ery time.

It’s in Uganda, but your bride com­posed your song while she was still your bride-tobe, liv­ing by her­self in Ye­men. There, you’d also hear it, even as you’d hear it in your first home in Hamil­ton. And, be­fore that, for the first time, on the day your bride some­how snuck a pi­ano down the 401, stood in her wed­ding dress, and played it gen­tly for all those guests. She called it Sur­prised by Joy. She’s played your song in other places — at a big party in an old Dun­das farm­house; in a chapel at a place called, fit­tingly-enough, Cross­roads; at Rideau Hall in Ot­tawa. Strolling from one Turk­ish-car­peted room to an­other, wine in-hand, you heard, “Ex­cuse me, Mr. Froese? Your wife’s wait­ing for you.”

So she was, in­tel­li­gent eyes and high cheek­bones and all, sit­ting at a fine pi­ano for­merly owned by Glenn Gould. Yes, she played Sur­prised by Joy on that pi­ano in an Or­der of Canada re­cep­tion that was, in fact, all about her, not you.

You don’t know how you got here, not to your home on the other side of the At­lantic any more than the other side of the moon. It was the vows. That’s how you got here, you sup­pose, with those vows: her hands in yours and yours in hers, those words about love and com­fort and hon­our, in riches and health and sick­ness and poverty.

But you didn’t know what you were say­ing. No­body does. Not re­ally. And be­fore those vows, the choice. It was a choice. It is a choice. Love has to be, even when you feel the wind blow your small boat into the ocean of it.

And be­fore the choice, that first date. You two, just met, went to join com­mon friends at a ball game, only to dis­cover no­body else showed up. You skipped the game, had din­ner, saw fire­works, then drove down the mid­night high­way to where ev­ery first date surely de­sires, to the news­room of your em­ploy.

And be­fore that? The long prepa­ra­tion. This was when, de­spite your­self, you some­how learned all that mat­tered, that no amount of work in any fu­ture mar­riage is worth as much as a wise choice to start.

So don’t marry too soon. Or too young. Don’t be too ea­ger. Don’t marry to please any­one else. Do date enough to learn about oth­ers. Be re­al­is­tic. Don’t marry any­one with, you know, be­havioural is­sues. Avoid shack­ing up. The heart­break­ing re­search shows these are mar­riage’s fault lines. Pray hard. Re­ally.

Sure, there are other ways to go about it. But they don’t work.

Re­mem­ber Charles and Di? Thirty-five years ago to­day 750 mil­lion peo­ple watched and cheered their big day. Then? The Hin­den­burg fared bet­ter.

Twenty years later, July 29, 2001, you’d marry your bride. For the first time, you’d hear your song. It was a strange and un­planned an­niver­sary, a warn­ing if noth­ing else.

You’re now on your fourth wed­ding ring. The first — gold and di­a­mond and every­thing — was lost in an On­tario lake; the sec­ond, some­where in Africa; the third, in a ho­tel. Your 10-year-old bought Num­ber Four for your birthday last sum­mer at a beach­side trin­ket shop. “Dad, you need a new wed­ding ring,” he said.

You now wear that $12 ring with won­der. And re­lief that a mar­riage is more than a ring.

You’re not mu­si­cal your­self. It’s one of your gaps. You play only the stereo. But then, one warm day your wife rolls in and steps from the ve­hi­cle. You yell through an open house win­dow, “Hey, it’s the mu­sic of my life!”

It’s just an­other day where the wa­ter of or­di­nary liv­ing has been turned into some kind of wine.

So you write about it. You say “Happy An­niver­sary, Babe,” sur­prised, like her, by the mys­tery of it all.

Thomas Froese writes about news, travel and life. Find him at www.thomas­ and www.dai­ly­

Don’t marry to please any­one else ... Avoid shack­ing up ... Pray hard. Re­ally. Sure, there are other ways to go about it. But they don’t work.


Dr. Jean Cham­ber­lain Froese, wife of colum­nist Thomas Froese, plays her self-com­posed Sur­prised by Joy at an Or­der of Canada cer­e­mony where she was in­ducted in 2015. The pi­ano, a 1934 Stein­way grand in the Long Room of Ot­tawa’s Rideau Hall, is a for­mer pi­ano of world-renowned Cana­dian pi­anist Glenn Gould. Froese and his wife share their July 29 wed­ding an­niver­sary with Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana.

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