At 62, Lynn Goodwin married a man whom she met on Craigslist, a man who was her total opposite. He had been widowed twice, had seven children, had a technical school degree, and owned his own electrical company. He was a born-again Christian preacher in a small church. She had never married nor had a physical relationship, graduated from Vassar and had a master's degree, taught English in high school, and was a writing coach, writer, book review critic, and an Episcopalian. When I first heard that story, red flags went off all over the place.
Why was she so eager to marry? By 62, I had about decided I was done with men and relationships. One marriage that didn't last, two affairs with men that I really cared about, and a few flings with men who were disappointments. It reminded me of the wedding of my youngest daughter. After five days of festivities, with friends and relatives from all other the country, I shooed the last out the door on a Sunday afternoon and later confessed to a friend that for the first time in a long while, I wished I were married, wished I had someone to relive the event with. In astonishment, she, a happily married woman, asked, "Why didn't you just call me? It would be a lot easier than having a man around the house."
As I started to read, I had to admit we didn't have a level playing field. At 62, like Goodwin, I was single and spending too many Saturday nights home alone with my dog. (I loved that she had a protective dog as a companion.). But I have four children to whom I am very close. They gave me—and still do—some of what Goodwin was missing: the sense of acceptance, the sense of being valued, of being someone who mattered. But there were, of course, gaps they couldn't fill.
Those were the gaps Lynn particularly wanted to fill. Craigslist? She was attracted by the clever metaphor Richard used to present himself, comparing himself to a roadster with two previous owners. When he wrote that his roadster was parked outside church every Sunday, she replied that hers could be parked right next to his. Little did she know what church he belonged to, let alone that he led it. He asked her out. Nervously, she accepted. Her dog liked him right away, a good sign.
Richard wanted to rush into the relationship almost immediately, yet, deep as her longings were, Lynn held back. Where he was impulsive, she was analytical. She weighed giving up her independence, especially financial, since he seemed to live from check to check and she had a nice nest egg. She would not move from her relatively neat condo to his trailer with dishes stacked in the sink. She valued her professional life, and, a feminist, she could not become a subservient wife. But Richard made her happy. He made her laugh and feel appreciated.
Throughout, Goodwin is almost painfully honest about her doubts and fears. And she is wry about the things she was learning. Really, who cares if he over-salts his food? Later, she would decide that doing the laundry is not such a big deal. He liked to cook, and she didn't, so let him cook, and she, always with a weight problem, would watch what she ate. No, she wouldn't join him in devouring fried foods. The one time she fixed him tuna salad and asked for an honest critique, she got it in spades, down to the celery was not sliced thin enough.
She quickly became involved in his small church, where she was treated as the pastor's wife even before she was, and Richard's family welcomed her, gave her the family she never had. She relished holidays.
Life is a series of compromises, and she was willing to make a lot of them. As you read, you'll disagree with some of her choice, applaud others, and perhaps think about the choices you've made in life. The important thing is that both Lynn and Richard met in the middle and made compromises each could live with. At the end, you'll want to add the line, "And they lived happily ever after." No one knows that for sure, but it looks promising now. She has now taken to signing her last name Goodwin-Brown.
Every woman should read this book in light of her own life and relationships. It has its funny moments and its serious ones. Readers will rejoice in this story of one woman's journey, but it's also an eye-opener for a lot of us. B. Lynn Goodwin is one gutsy woman, and we can all learn from her.
B. Lynn Goodwin is the owner of Writer Advice. She's written You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers (Tate Publishing) and Talent (Eternal Press). Talent was short-listed for a Literary Lightbox Award and won a bronze medal in the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards and was a finalist for a Sarton Women's Book Award.
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