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We Were Married 41 Years Ago

Bob Livingstone is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCS 11087) in private practice for 22 years in San Francisco, California. He holds a Masters Degree ...Read More

Dear Gail,

We were married in the middle of Kansas in the middle of day and in the middle of turmoil in America.

You were dressed in white complete with a bonnet and I was wearing a rented tux and a top hat like the dancers wore at the end of Blazing Saddles. Your mother said, “Take that clown hat off” and I immediately followed her orders even though it was my wedding.

The festivities took place at Sunset Park in Salina, Kansas. It was nearly one hundred degrees and the sun was beating down on us.

We were very much an anomaly; an interracial marriage smack in the nation’s heartland. An African American woman marrying a white man wasn’t common in those days; certainly not in 1972. Certainly not in Kansas.

The ceremony had Catholic and Jewish aspects reflecting the religions we were brought up with. I am the Jew from New Jersey and you are the Catholic Black woman from Kansas.

The minister was Lutheran and way too progressive for this area. The audience was a mixture of old and young folks of different ethnicities.

I was so scared and at one point in time during the service when I was bending on one knee, I silently asked myself what in the world was I doing getting married at the age of twenty one. You were always so calm and patient; I am still in awe of how you carry yourself with so much presence.

I remember really wanting to make your mother happy because she was the first adult to shower me with unconditional love.

My mother and I were just beginning to deal with the deep conflicts that separated us. After a long, painful journey, we eventually found peace together.

But Gail, it is so sad that our mothers are no longer with us; that they both died some time ago. Matter of fact, when you look at the wedding family photo there are many loved ones no longer here.

Time has flown by. Remember when we packed up the car in Lawrence, Kansas and drove to San Francisco? We arrived here and made the city our home for over thirty years now.

We both learned early on that we are fiercely independent people and had intense authority issues working for bosses.

I started a private psychotherapy practice in the late 1980’s. I work with children, teens and adults. I have also written three books. You have always supported my work and I couldn’t have done it without you.

You created an Afro-Centric elementary school in 1979 that has been a life saver and changer for many children. You instill confidence in the kids and teach them to believe in themselves; just like you have done for me all these years.

I know that I am not exactly a walk in the park or a day at the beach. I am unreasonable and I lose faith in life sometimes. When my emotional pain is triggered, I believe that I will never be soothed. This causes me to be sullen, withdrawn and emotionally unavailable.

I hope you know that I am always striving to be a better man and am a continuing flawed work in progress.

I am lucky to have you to share my life with. We have so many things in common: music, sports, and politics. The division between the haves and have nots had increased massively since the day we got married. We are involved in fighting against those who hate others because they are different. We fight against racial injustice and gentrification.

We both share the value of providing service to those who need help. This is a tradition deeply steeped in the Jewish and African American belief systems.

We have been through so much together. We have mourned the death of our closest loved ones. We have developed and maintained great friendships. We have been deeply hurt by the abrupt ending of other relationships. We have miscommunicated in times of crisis and at other times have made the deepest connections two people can make.

I hope that I can help you make your dreams come true. Thank you for bringing so much joy into my life. I cherish you and am so grateful to whoever or whatever brought you into my life.

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