He was my high-school sweetheart, my first husband for only five years and now, almost three decades later, my groom once again. After 27 long years apart, we were taking our first cruise together, a second-chance honeymoon. We were in our 50s, celebrating a renewed commitment to each other.
Terry and I boarded Star Princess bound for the Eastern Caribbean, excited, this time, to truly start our lives together. On the first night we arrived at our assigned table for dinner, a little apprehensive about who we were about to meet.
We found already seated there, an older couple in their 70s along with a much younger one in their 20s. I wondered about the age range and our compatibility, as one couple could have been our parents and the other our children. After chatting for just a few minutes, we were startled to discover that we all shared the wedding date of October 18th. The older couple was on a 50th anniversary cruise and the younger couple, like us, had just gotten married. We felt like three generations of the same family, so the stories started to flow easily and comfortably. Terry and I didn’t hesitate to share our story of first love followed by our tale of love the second time around.
We were so young when we first married in 1963. I was only 18 and he was 20. Within a few years, Terry was called to service in Vietnam and after two tours of duty, only months apart, he returned feeling the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Back then, we didn’t know what it was or how to treat it, and the era of marriage therapy wouldn’t come until later in the 1970s. So without the skills, we parted ways and decided that I should raise our daughter, Janean.
Over the years, as Terry worked to overcome the effects of PTSD, he chose to not be a part of our lives. But ironically, we were living parallel lives: remarrying, having children, divorcing and living alone for roughly the same periods of time. It took Janean making us grandparents to put us in the same room and in one another’s lives again.
And what joy! Within months we were engaged and we decided to marry on the same day as our first marriage, October 18th, 1996 – both times falling on a Friday.
Our story enthralled our tablemates and brought the “you should be on “Oprah” comments we later got used to hearing. We felt it was almost too personal for so many eyes. But with our tablemates and newfound friends, with whom we shared such a special date, our story came tumbling out.
How we came to be seated together, I’ll never know. But I suspect that the Princess “table-assignment fairy” had taken note and placed us together. Now, 14 cruises later we’re still celebrating love the second time around, marking each passing anniversary with a Princess cruise.
Nancy resides in Trabuco Canyon, Calif. and has enjoyed 14 Princess cruises with Terry.