Living Happily Ever After


Blog Articles

An Invitation

“Find me a man who’s interesting enough to have dinner with and I’ll be happy.” (Lauren Bacall)

He was a very busy man. His invitation mentioned something about an evening had opened up, the only evening for the next month that he wasn’t busy, and amazingly enough, I was free the night he asked about. I accepted his dinner invitation.

When I asked if he would pick me up or if I should meet him somewhere he told me he thought it best we meet at the restaurant. “I wouldn’t ask you to do that all of the time, I just believe it’s best to meet at the restaurant the first date,” he said.

Then he dropped the bombshell. (AFTER I’d already accepted his invitation! Lol. Think of the worries and concerns I’ve mentioned—I won’t call them issues—traceable to aging, wrinkles, and being old; now think about my opinion of facial hair.) Bachelor #5 warned me about his appearance. Due to a theater role he was playing at the time, he said he had a beard; a gray beard, “like an old grandpa.” Then he corrected himself, “Actually, I am a grandpa. But not that kind of one!”

Forty-two years old with a four-year-old, and I had agreed to a date with a grandpa–with facial hair. And it was gray!

The holidays were approaching, I joked that it was his lucky day because I loved Santa Claus! (Did I REALLY say that? I did, and it’s true.) I just never imagined dating him.

The date was on.

“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” (Ronald Reagan)

The Spaghetti Factory, to be exact.

Full Circle

“I don’t have to look up my family tree, because I know that I’m the sap.” (Fred Allen)

I could have died. Did I really say that out loud?

Thankfully, she laughed, opened the door and invited me into her home. And then, like a total mother, she said, “Let me look at you!” and had me turn all the way around in a circle for inspection.

She was friendly, kind, loving, accepting and interesting to talk to. She was also very open with her thoughts and feelings. I quickly learned she was not about judging others or making judgements. She had counseled me not to judge her, and the sign at her door was a good reminder: “Please leave your judgments, and your shoes, at the door.”

I think it was an exciting moment for both of us.

I apologized for my tacky first words, but maintained that they were true. She laughed and said at her age, it was a huge compliment. She didn’t mind them one bit!

There were no tears, just smiles, until she expressed her gratitude for my parents and the way they had raised me. She told me she felt that although they weren’t here any more, they were still very aware of me, that they were supportive of our meeting and that she could be here for me now. THAT is what made me cry.

It was a tender moment.

I remembered every single birthday of my entire life, when my mom would look at me funny and start to cry. (It was almost a ritual.) I’d ask her why she was crying. And she’d say, “I’m just thinking of your biological mother. I wonder what she is thinking today? And I am just so grateful to her for bringing you into this world!” And there stood the woman who had brought me into the world expressing gratitude for my parents. It was as if some part of the adoption process had come full circle.

She hugged me.

And then we sat down to begin to get acquainted.

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.” (Anthony Brandt)

The Next Step

“Do nothing in haste, look well to each step, and from the beginning think what may be the end.” (Edward Whymper)

It’s about time I stop to think about the above, huh?

I had acted in haste, I hadn’t considered any step beyond sending a message, and I certainly hadn’t thought what the end may be! I couldn’t quite take the next step and call, so I emailed back, shared a little bit more about me and my life, and gave her my phone number.

She called me the very next morning.

Her voice was kind, gentle and friendly. She apologized for not getting back to me earlier; she said she was never on Facebook, that her friend had put her on it, and she’d had QUITE a welcome surprise when she finally did get on it!

One of the first sentences she uttered was, “I want you to know, I didn’t have a choice regarding placing you for adoption.”

I assured her I was grateful she had and I appreciated what she had done for me. I told her I had been blessed with wonderful parents and a very full and amazing life with every opportunity, and more, that anyone could have ever wanted.

She told me the circumstances of my birth. She told me about my biological father. She told me some of my medical history. She told me she loved me.

The whole thing could not have been more unexpected or more positive or a better experience for me. I’m so glad she called!

It was an unexpected phone call that changed my completely unexpected life.

“If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?” (Stephen Levine)

The wait was over.

Until It Happened To Me

The second singles dance I went to I met a new (female) friend who was my height, close to my age, and was fun to hang out with. We had a great time and became instant friends.

I wasn’t the only one who liked her.

That night, the MEN, liked her too. Old men. They all looked like grandpas to me, but she was very nice about it. She got asked to dance every song by different men clearly older than us, and was friendly to all of them. She had the magic that night!

After each dance, she’d return to the sideline with a dinner date set with the previous partner. I bet she got asked out by five or more men that night! I couldn’t believe it.

Who has that happen to them?

I was concerned about the age of her suitors until she told me the man she currently had a crush on and dated was in his 60s–that after two failed marriages she was ready for a good, mature man. He was in her church congregation, she sat by him every Sunday, and they went out on the weekends–she was just frustrated that she couldn’t get him to only date her. Thus, she had gone to a singles dance to meet men. I give her an A+ for effort! I’ve never seen anything like that.

And I didn’t believe dances like that happened to single women…until it happened to me.

The next month I went to a singles dance with a male friend. I danced with him quite a bit, but every time he or I took a break, a senior citizen man would ask me to dance…and then during the dance, asked me to dinner on a date! I got three invitations from three men who had grandchildren the ages of my children.

When it came time to go home, two were hanging around offering to drive me home.

My friend I’d gone to the dance with and I sort of had a system. We dated, we even went to dances together sometimes, but we danced with other people too (if someone caught our eye) and when the dance was over we both hung back until the other one was alone and ready to go.

My problem that night, aside from all those senior citizens, was that my friend kept hanging back because men were around me and talking to me, and all I wanted to do was leave! It took him awhile to figure that out, but finally, he caught on to my desire to escape and we got to leave in peace!

The next couple of weeks I fielded lots of phone calls and dinner offers from elderly gentlemen, but in the end, I had to admit that the 55+ crowd was just a little old for me.

It was an interesting experience to have “the magic” for just one night.

I couldn’t help but remember how I felt heading into my single life, newly divorced, feeling like an old bag, sure no one would ever want me or date me or desire to spend time with me–and although the men that “magical” evening were way too old for me, It was very nice of anyone to say they wanted to spend more time with me.

In a way, though, it made me feel like a teenager again. Those lovely years of boys I wasn’t interested in calling me and asking me to “go with them” and me trying to politely decline. Those years of never having the boy I liked like me at the same time!

After a total life change I had to shake my head and laugh that apparently some things NEVER change: the magic never seems to strike the one you want it to–or you and the one you want at the same time!

It’s so true. “Just because everything is different doesn’t mean anything has changed.” (Irene Peter)

Bachelor #14: The Rule Breaker

Bachelor #14 was a nice, normal, successful businessman I met online. He lived several hours away from me. And broke one of his “cardinal rules” to date me: he didn’t drive distances for women or to date them. Yet he drove them for me.

As Katharine Hepburn said, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” And as he said, “I can’t believe how many ‘rules’ I’ve broken for you.”

Although we laughed a lot and had a lot of fun, Bachelor #14 isn’t memorable to me because of any particular weird thing he did (he didn’t do any, like I said, he was totally nice and normal!) He is memorable to me because I learned something from him that literally changed my life.

Thank goodness he broke the rules! “If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere.” (Marilyn Monroe)

I have learned a couple of things from certain men I’ve dated. One that stands out in my mind occurred while dating Bachelor #1.

At some point in dating, when things get to a certain “stage,” every man has asked me if I really, truly am “over” my former spouse. They say, “I know you’ve said you are, I know you act like you are, but are you REALLY? How can you be over Him so quickly after being married for 20 years?”

I never know what to say to that, other than the truth: I am over Him. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, I just know that I am. I always assumed it was because the lies, the betrayal, and the deception were so deep, so complete and so thorough (into every aspect of our life, our faith, our friends and family, and his career.) I assumed all of that was what had helped the love die so quickly and the tie fade so fast after I had the rug of my entire existence ripped out from under me in that one fateful moment on that one terrible day: March 18, 2009.

But I learned there was probably more to it than that. Bachelor #1 pointed it out.

He told me I was missing something important. That I’d received a blessing I didn’t even realize. He had known people married only 3-4 years and unable to move on after their divorce. He said I had received a huge blessing that I was able to get over something so huge and to move on so “quickly.” He said it really was a blessing to me.

I believe in counting your blessings, looking for the good, acknowledging the tender mercies you receive each day and living your life with gratitude every day in all things. So I was thankful that although I’d been too clueless to see it, someone else had seen it and pointed it out to me so I could realize it. So I could acknowledge a miracle, a blessing, in my life.

I realized, “When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.” (C.S. Lewis)

That was certainly true for me.

Bachelor #14 taught me something different: “You don’t have to tell your story any more.”

It was a moment for me. An absolute epiphany.

I looked at him in shock. “What? Not tell my story? But how? Everyone always wants to know why you divorced, what dysfunctional tendencies you have that led to something so terrible. I can’t lie!” I said.

Bachelor #14 replied, “I’m not telling you to lie. I’m telling you that you don’t have to tell your story any more to anyone. You don’t have to tell it to the people you date. Of anyone I’ve met, your story really isn’t your story–it isn’t what you did; it’s what someone else did. You did nothing wrong or criminal, you were not involved, it has nothing to do with you other than it completely changed your life and you ended up with a new and different one in Utah. But you don’t have to tell your story to any one any more.”

It was one of those things that had been right in front of me all along, yet I had never seen it! However, as soon as I saw it, it made perfect sense to me and I wondered how I’d never realized it before.

I clarified, “Well, what do I say to people who asked me why I got divorced? Everyone always asks that.”

Bachelor #14 had a good sense of humor. He laughed and said, “There are so many things to choose from in your case, can’t you pick just one?”

That made me laugh. What he said was totally true. There were SO many reasons I got divorced. I seriously could pick just one “little” one from the plethora of reasons I’d had and it would be a big enough reason for any normal person to understand!

Bachelor #14 encouraged, “You CAN do that! Just tell one little reason and the rest is nobody’s business.”

That conversation changed my life.

It allowed me to separate myself from everything my former spouse had done. In that moment, I was able to let it all go. I had known all along my former spouse’s actions weren’t mine, but because I had been married to him, they were a burden I carried to some degree–as I lived each day with the consequences His choices had thrust upon me and as I felt shame not only for knowing someone who had done such terrible things but for having been married to him while he did them.

But in an instant, I wasn’t ashamed any more. I wasn’t humiliated any more. I wasn’t trying to hide any more. I wasn’t worried about living a life of anonymity or about trying to hide who I was and what I had come from.

I was free to be me, and only me, again.

Andrea Merriman.

Why had it taken me so many months to realize that? I’d had good friends who had told me that over and over, but somehow I hadn’t been able to see it or believe it before. But in that moment, I finally did.

Like that old game “Red Light, Green Light” where you take baby steps at first so you don’t get caught by the “it” person, but the closer you get to the end and to winning, your steps get bigger and bigger until the last one or two steps are giant, almost reckless leaps…THAT is what that conversation and the realization it led me to were for me.

Prior to that, I’d felt almost completely healed. Thanks to Bachelor #14, the remaining gap narrowed considerably. In fact, was there even a gap any more?

Things with Bachelor #14 were perfect while it lasted, but it wasn’t meant to be. There were some core values we differed on. So goodbye Bachelor #14, but I’ll never forget you.

“You are remembered for the rules you break.” (Douglas MacArthur)

I’m so grateful he did.

Bachelor Bee Gee

Bachelor #2 (aka. Bachelor Bee Gee) was paranoid about houses. At least that’s the impression I got. He asked me out on a date, for dessert, but insisted on meeting me at a nearby parking lot rather than my home or the restaurant. He told me he never let anyone know where he lived on the first date.

Should that have been my first clue?

I met him at the parking lot he designated, he helped me into the cab of his giant white truck and he turned on the engine and revved it–a sign of things to come. High school.


He put the truck in gear and drove toward the restaurant. As he drove, he reached over and turned on the stereo. It was blasting so loud I thought he was joking with me, you know, turning up the radio and blaring an 80s song to act young for me or something. But no, he didn’t even look at me. He was too busy singing along and bouncing in his seat and I realized it wasn’t 2009 anymore for at least one of us on the date! The music was so loud it hurt my ears. And then he began to shout over it.

“Do you like the music?”

“What?” I asked.

“Do you like this song? This music?”

I had to reach over and turn it down to hear his question. When I finally figured out what he was asking me, and with my ears still ringing, I realized it was a hard rock song I hadn’t heard since the 1980s. High school. Again.

As we drove he told me all about the song I was hearing and how much it cost him to purchase it; that he had every song from the 80s loaded into his system and how much each song had cost; and the grand total he had spent on music. Then he moved on to the benefits and features of his stereo system–how much he had paid for everything. And then what he had paid for his truck. And then the travel he planned to do in the next few months–and how much he planned to spend.

The whole drive to the restaurant was like that. He talked about everything he owned and how much everything had cost–all the while shouting over the 80s hard rock music he had blasting. I wondered (not for the first time, since I began dating) if I was being punked!

No such luck.

We arrived at the restaurant, the hostess seated us, gave us the dessert menus, and we chatted while deciding what to order. The server arrived to take our order and Bachelor Bee Gee directed me to order first. I did. The served looked at him, expectantly, but he closed his menu and said, “I’m not having any dessert. I don’t like sugar. In fact, I rarely eat.”

Total “Jive Talkin’.”

Then why in the heck had he asked me out for dessert?

The server raised his eyebrows at me before walking away. He seemed to say, “Where in the world did you find this winner?” He didn’t want to know the truth. Online. “I Started A Joke” the day I got online.

I offered to cancel my order so we could do something more to his liking, he said no, and proceeded to tell me how he ate only every 3-4 days and that he never ate dessert. (I thought, “This is going to be a long night. Maybe when he sees I eat sugar, then he’ll take me home early!”) I wondered how he was going to entertain me while I ate dessert. I soon found out.

He decided to entertain me with strange facts about himself, like the “fact” that he lived in a home that was once owned by the Bee Gees. He said it had been the Bee Gees’ mountain retreat in Utah. (Hence the name, Bachelor Bee Gee!) He told me about talking to the Bee Gees on the phone, negotiating the deal, etc…

My dessert came, I ate a little but saved most of it to take home to my kids. I figured Bachelor Bee Gee may not eat sugar, but my kids would enjoy a treat courtesy of the man who starved himself and apparently, liked to watch other people eat dessert! We weren’t at the restaurant long. There is nothing appetizing about eating dessert in front of someone who not only isn’t having any, but who never eats any–or for that matter, supposedly, never eats food!

We got in his truck, and instead of driving me back to the parking lot as I expected, he started driving toward the mountains. I thought maybe he was taking a shortcut to the parking lot that I didn’t know about (I was still new in town, he was not) but finally I figured out we weren’t heading to where I wanted to go. I asked, “Can you tell me where we’re going?”

He told me, “We’re going to my house–to the Bee Gees’ mountain retreat.”

I said, “Wait. I thought you didn’t let anyone see where you lived on the first date.”

He looked at me, winked, and said he wasn’t worried about me. He had a feeling that I was “safe.” I wasn’t worried about me either. But I was seriously starting to wonder about him!

We pulled up to the house and it wasn’t what I had expected: a 70s-style house in the middle of a neighborhood. I tried to imagine why the Bee Gees would buy a house like that and put it in the middle of a normal neighborhood. If I were coming to enjoy the Utah mountains, and traveling from down under to do it, and if I were a celebrity, I think I would want a bit more privacy!

I walked in the door, expecting a total 1970s-style, funky house and it was not what I expected. He took me on a tour and showed me where every Bee Gees decorating touch had been, what it had been, and showed me how he had ripped it out and replaced it with something modern! There was absolutely nothing BeeGees about the house at all. What a waste! It was a “Tragedy!”

He took me into the family room of the house. A fire was roaring in the fireplace. (That should have been my first clue.) Suddenly, and mysteriously, BeeGees mood music came on and I realized a serious case of “Night Fever” might be coming my way. It was time for me to focus on “Stayin’ Alive.” Literally.

I told him it was late, I had to work the next day, it was time for me to go home, and I headed for the door. It was almost as if his truck was calling, “Run To Me.” So I did just that.

He took a while to come out of the house. As I stood there in the dark and cold waiting for him, I imagined having to have to call my teenager to come pick me up and give me a ride home. (If the previous events of 2009 hadn’t scarred him, THAT probably would have! lol) But fortunately Bachelor Bee Gee came out and gave me a ride to my car–music blaring, no shouted conversation this time. I think he got the hint.

But that is the amazing thing about dating. About men. Just when you think men understand, you realize some of them don’t! He must have thought he was a “Heartbreaker.” We got to my car, I opened my door and jumped out. He looked at me and asked, “Hey, would you like me to call you again?”

I was stunned! A wave of…change…washed over me, as I realized in that moment that just a few months earlier I’d been married (and married for 20 years), I’d had stability and security; and yet there I stood, living a completely different life, divorced, single, and ending a date with a virtual stranger who was whack-o. All I could do was laugh!

I couldn’t answer him, I was laughing too hard. (You know, as I’ve said before. In life, you can choose to laugh or cry: I choose to laugh!) I never did answer him. Instead, I laughed all the way to my car. And as I opened my car door I heard him call out, “Remember, the phone line works both ways!”

I drove home, walked up to my room, realized how fortunate I had been and stopped laughing. A wave of “Emotion” washed over me and I burst into tears at the unexpected life that was now mine. “Alone.” I couldn’t comprehend that Bee Gees-wannabes were my destiny. If that was the case, I didn’t think it was possible “To Love Somebody.”

I didn’t think my love was deep enough.

“I was always the one left behind. Out in the streets, when they saw me they’d say, ‘That’s just one of the Bee Gees.’” (Maurice Gibb)


“A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.” (E. E. Cummins)

By the end of September 2009, we were getting into the routine of our new life. My youngest spent the day being tended by someone other than me and was enjoying preschool three afternoons each week; my middle son was adjusting to his new school, piano lessons, and having his mom work full-time; my daughter was adjusting to her new school and new life and preparing dinner every night for the family; and my oldest was slowly adjusting to his new school, new life, and the role of oldest brother/not quite the father but was expected to do some of that type of thing for his siblings too.

Autumn came to Utah and with the seasonal changes came a huge one, for me personally, as well.

I had known “autumn” too long in my life. My divorce had been final for “only” 2 months, yet I had felt absolutely alone and lonely since March 18. (I couldn’t believe how alone I felt while still legally married and living in Colorado with my spouse in our home. The truth He had revealed had instantly changed not just our lives and our family, but our relationship as well. We were living in the same house, for the sake of our children, but we were not emotionally connected anymore. And after 20 years of companionship and what I thought had been a good relationship and a solid marriage, I was stunned at how different I felt. Instantly alone. Completely alone. Alone in the world. ALONE.)

I had moved away from my life, my friends, my support, and my social networks. And whether it was loneliness from moving, or loneliness from being single, I didn’t know. All I knew was that I couldn’t stand the loneliness anymore.

I decided I was ready to be more social.

I decided I was ready to meet people.

I decided I was ready to date. (Did I just say that?)

And while we’re on the subject, here’s a question: Who can be betrayed so completely and so thoroughly in every way for nearly 20 years of marriage and not only be willing to subject themselves to the possibility of that again, but be willing to trust others, even men, again? And so “soon?”


Call me crazy, call me whatever you want, but for some reason, I was. I had been lied to, deceived, betrayed, and everything else attendant with being the former spouse of a man running a Ponzi scheme for 15 years, yet I still was willing to trust. I’m guessing it was that optimistic, fairy tale-loving and believing part of me, manifesting itself again. (Or maybe it’s just the way I was raised? lol.)

Whatever it was, all I can say is that dating in the 21st century turned out to be a LOT different than the last time I had dated…the 1980s.


Bookmark and Share

The Caterpillar Phase

I met one of my “oldest” friends for breakfast this morning. I have known her since I was 15 years old, and although we only lived in the same town for a little over a year, our friendship has endured all these years. She was my college roommate for almost three years and has been with me through thick and thin. No matter how long it has been since the last time we’ve seen each other, we are always able to pick up right where we left off. Today was no different.

We chatted about me. We chatted about her. We discussed our children. We talked about our jobs. We talked about life and the unexpected things that happen. We laughed as we reminisced about some of the good times we have shared. The time passed all too quickly (three hours just didn’t seem that long!) and then we had to part ways to attend the activities of our children. As I was partway home, she called my cell phone and asked if I was heading home. When I told her I was, she said she had something for me that reminded her of me, and was going to meet me at my house and give it to me.

She arrived a few minutes later and handed me a cute wooden plaque that said, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” She told me as we sat and talked, and then when she saw that phrase, it reminded her of me. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness. We’d spent the morning together, and she thoughtfully added an extra 1-2 hours to her trip to share that gift with me.

I LOVE that statement on the gift she gave me! (And not just because it is true.)

Maya Angelou said, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

If you think about it, we are all caterpillars journeying through life. Each experience adds to what we are and what we are becoming until…we become butterflies. Beautiful butterflies!

My mom focused on inner beauty with her children. She’d always say it’s great if you have a beautiful appearance (and to some degree, we don’t get to choose that. If we have it, it’s because we inherited it from someone else!) but true beauty, the important beauty, the beauty that means something is inner beauty. She always encouraged us to be as “pretty on the inside” as she thought we were on the outside.

Inner beauty is not without price. Life happens, we endure challenges and the changes it brings, and if we handle it right, the changes can positively impact our inner beauty. My mom always told me we can use the challenges that come our way to help us become better than we would otherwise have been; we can let the bad things that happen to us refine us, and help us develop real and lasting beauty–inner beauty–or we can allow them to canker our souls and destroy us.

I truly believe THAT is the most important thing we can do when the going is rough: use the terrible experience to help us become better people. It isn’t easy, but it IS possible.

When the unexpected events of 2009 began, a friend called and reminded me that no matter how bad everything looked at the moment, and no matter how terrible I envisioned my future would be, she wanted me to know it was not going to turn out to be QUITE as bad as I feared. And she was right. On March 18, 2009, I absolutely thought my children and I were headed to live in a cardboard box somewhere. Today we live in a home. I thought the huge, gaping hole in our hearts would never heal. But they are. But we’ve had to look for the good; look for the beauty. And have tried to create new beauty out of a very different set of circumstances.

Life, even an unexpected life, can be beautiful. We just have to endure the caterpillar phase, and the chrysalis stage, and look for the beauty that unfolds as we endure and then triumph over our challenges.

And we must never forget this truth: “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”

Bookmark and Share