Living Happily Ever After


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The Ideal

“The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances.” (Aristotle)
I have a few heroes. Let me tell you about one. The ideal woman. My ideal.
She is actually a Ponzi scheme victim–a victim of the Ponzi scheme my former husband perpetrated. (One extremely difficult aspect of marriage to a criminal perpetrating a Ponzi scheme unbeknownst to you or anyone else, especially when he appears to have preyed on family, friends and strangers alike, is that some of those you knew well, and loved, are victims of his crimes. I knew a few of Shawn Merriman’s victims in that way. Especially this one.)
She is a beautiful woman. In fact, her physical beauty was the first thing I noticed about her. But from the moment I met her, she was so gracious, dignified, kind and everything else…she instantly became one of my heroes. The type of woman I hoped some day to be. And then, due to a Ponzi scheme, our relationship ended.
Five years later, just last month in fact, we ran into one another. I was at work–so busy, and working in a crowd of people, I would never have seen her or known she was there. She could have easily walked past me without a word and I wouldn’t have known. But instead, and unexpectedly, I felt an arm go around my shoulders and give me a quick hug.  She kissed my cheek, quickly said something like, “You look so good! You are doing so well! I’m so proud of you!” and she was off in the crowd again before I could process what had just taken place.
Talk about dignity and grace and class. Not only making the best of circumstances but GOING OUT OF HER WAY to not just be kind, but LOVING, to the ex-wife of the man who stole her material wealth!
She remains my hero. Today (and many other days) I think of her example and I celebrate her.
“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” (Maya Angelou)

A Mixture of Pleasure and Pain

“This moment in time, on this tour, you know, I’m discovering a lot of new things. And to be 45 and doing that, it’s a mixture of pleasure and pain, I can assure you.” (Eric Clapton)

I’m not 45 years old, but this week marks my three-month wedding anniversary; cause to reflect on my current “tour,” remarriage, and to evaluate my experience thus far–as in where we’ve been and where we’re headed.

I remember back to the “good old days” of being engaged. I don’t know how it all came across in the blog, but the reality of it was not 9 1/2 months of bliss, carefree romance and starry eyes and nights despite the many great moments we shared. In actuality, it was the majority of  one year spent getting to know one another even better, preparing to unite not just ourselves but our families, and of challenges, confronting issues and resolving them–and when you’re talking remarriage, you’re dealing with all of the aforementioned stuff to an even greater degree than a first marriage. In fact, there was so much to work through, #5 used to joke that marriage would be easy compared to being engaged and that there was nothing we wouldn’t know about one another by the time we got married.

I think I thought #5 meant being married would be “easier” and with less to work through than our engagement and that because we knew each other so well, there wouldn’t be any surprises or a period of adjustment to one another after our wedding. (You know, for being this old and somewhat experienced in life and marriage–having been married 20 years to someone else prior to marrying #5–you’d think I’d be a lot brighter than I am!) But boy, was I wrong.

I realized, again, that you never truly know someone until you live with them and in life, and especially the remarriage aspect of the unexpected one, it seems like there is always something to work through or resolve!

I’m a hopeless romantic. (I’ll confess that right here and now in case that has happened to escape the attention of anyone reading this blog.) I went into remarriage with my usual rose-colored optimism and romantic ideals of perfection.  And while my remarriage is wonderful, there have been a few moments of challenge (if I’m being honest.) Moments spent in resolving issues. And the truth, in my experience and based on what I’ve learned from premarital counselors and others who have lived through or are living through the remarriage experience, is that approximately 80% of issues, conflict, and anything else that needs to be worked out can usually be related directly to money, children and/or former spouses. (Which shouldn’t be THAT surprising, since statistics show most first marriage difficulties arise over money and children, too.)

One day, in the middle of an “issue resolution” I joked that despite all the premarital counselor had tried to prepare me for, remarriage was a lot more difficult than I’d anticipated. That stopped #5 in his tracks. He looked at me in all seriousness and said, “Really? I thought it was going to be a LOT worse than this! I thought it was going to be much harder than this! I’m actually amazed at how well everything is going and how few problems we have compared to what I expected.”

That stopped ME in MY tracks. I was stunned. “Wait, you thought it was going to be WORSE than this…and you married me anyway?” I asked.

“Absolutely, and I’d do it again,” he clarified.

THAT sums up the remarriage experience for me, as well as the unexpected life.

It can be a stretch to feel like an old dog learning new tricks in your 40s. A mixture of pain, growing pains, as you learn and grow through the new opportunities you’re blessed with as well as plenty of pleasure, like when your new husband tells you, despite the challenges, issues and the work required to resolve them, that it’s even better than he expected, that he loves you and that he’d do it all over again. For you.

Second marriage moment #12.

“Forever can never be long enough for me, To feel like I’ve had long enough with you…Marry Me, Today and Every day, Marry Me…say you will.” (Train, “Marry Me”)

I love it when #5 hums, sings, says that or plays it for me on XM Radio “The Coffee House” channel.

The Unexpected Life.

Why Wait?

“My kids always perceived the bathroom as a place where you wait it out until all the groceries are unloaded from the car.” (Erma Bombeck)

Or in the case of my younger sister, the bathroom is where you wait it out until all of the dinner dishes are done! (I’m sure I’ll hear from her on this one. But she KNOWS what I’m talking about:)

As an adult, since my engagement to #5, I’ve also been “waiting it out,” but unfortunately, couldn’t hide in a bathroom; I had to keep living my life.

What was I waiting for?

Marriage. To get married, to be exact. Actually, it’s THE reason for my “long” engagement and wait. Yes, the time to thoroughly get to know one another, to help our children prepare for the life change and blending of families has been very helpful. But the main reason for the wait is that I need authorization to marry where I wanted to marry.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe in marriage (and family) and in beginning all of that by marrying in a L.D.S. temple. A temple is the place we believe covenants, and the ties that bind, are made not for just this life but for eternity.

To qualify for the privilege of going to a temple to worship, marry or participate in other ordinances you must have a temple recommend (a paper permit.) This is required not because what takes place in a temple is secret (it’s not secret), but because the ordinances performed therein are so sacred. To receive a temple recommend, you must live certain standards and then obtain the recommend/permit from your local clergy.

In a first marriage, you only need a temple recommend to be married and sealed to your chosen spouse. In the case of divorce, additional authorization beyond a temple recommend is required to remarry in a temple. Men and women sealed to previous spouses in a L.D.S. temple must obtain special permission to be sealed to a new husband or wife in a temple. The additional authorization is known as a cancellation or clearance of your previous sealing and it is in letter form. As both #5 and I had been married and sealed in a temple to our previous spouses, both of us needed additional authorization to remarry in a temple. And that letter of authorization to do so comes directly from The First Presidency of The Church. They are the only men who grant that permission.

It is a process that takes time. In fact, you never know how long it all can take to gather the required information, complete the interviews necessary and do everything else that is part of obtaining a cancellation or clearance to remarry in a temple. I think for that reason, most L.D.S. couples who remarry choose to marry civilly (not in a L.D.S. temple) initially, and then go to a temple approximately one year after their civil wedding to be sealed to one another.

But that’s not me.

For a variety of reasons, I guess.

My parents raised me to live a life that would allow me to marry in a temple, and I had always chosen to live that way. I hadn’t changed, I didn’t change the way I lived or what I believed in, just because my former spouse made the choices he did. Or because I was divorced or living an unexpected life. A temple marriage was still my ideal. For me, it was the place to marry–my only choice.

I was also raising my children to marry in a temple. I needed to remarry in the temple not just for me, but also as an example to them (especially given the “example” the other Merriman parent had set.)

We began the application process that would allow us to marry in a L.D.S. temple within weeks after we got engaged. We just never realized how long it would take.

“If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.” (Oscar Wilde)


Junk Vs. Joan

“Buy, buy, says the sign in the shop window; Why, why, says the junk in the yard.” (Paul McCartney)

My life, my focus, has never been about “things.” In fact, if I’ve ever been consumed by a quest to acquire anything, it’s memories. Making good memories with my loved ones. Because I’ve never believed you can take “it” with you. I believe the only thing I’ll leave this life with is my spirit–some would call it my soul, my memories, my intelligence, the things I have learned and the knowledge I’ve acquired.

However, I was married to a man who looked at “things” differently than I did. He talked all the right talk, of course. He would nod his head and look sorrowful (I thought, in agreement with me) when we’d talk about how sad it was that some people chose to sell their soul for things. He was generous with his means (although now I know he was generous with what was never actually his.) And he acquired a lot of “stuff” in the process, though I never actually knew exactly what, or how much, because he stored it all in the building behind our home, where his “office” was, and I rarely went back there. It was his “manspace;” really cluttered and filled with all manner of junk and disorganized chaos, not the way I lived or operated, so I stayed out of it!

When my unexpected life began, there were things that needed serious purging. Namely, contents of a household that was downsizing. As featured on news reports about the Ponzi scheme my former husband perpetrated, I had ties to some material things. (I don’t know if those broadcasts are still around, but feel free to check them out if you’re curious: watch the motor home driving away towing the boat; see the “mansion” nestled in the trees; hear about the cabin in Idaho and the fine art; learn about the trailer loads of “things” that were hauled away over several days when the asset seizure began.)

In criminal/fraud situations, the government seizes everything of value from the criminal (my former husband) so victims can receive some compensation for their losses, which is all as it should be. The hard part, however, is what to do with everything that has no value. Everything the government doesn’t want.

Like the 9 crockpots–four from my home and four  my cabin (we frequently hosted large group gatherings) and one from the motorhome.

A yard sale wasn’t an option. I had seen my home and property featured on the news enough; my neighbors were stalking us with cameras as my children and I came and went, when we were outside, if we left the garage door open, and through the un-curtained windows of our home. Our neighbors gathered in front of our home to talk and trade notes of what was going on, what they had seen or heard, and they sometimes made it difficult to get to my home if they weren’t in the mood to allow anyone to pass their human barricade.

Case in point. One day a pastor attempted to go to our home to retrieve a set of scriptures from inside. Our neighbors were standing in the cul-de-sac we lived on, our driveway and all around the property and refused to let the pastor through. He explained who he was and the one simple thing he wanted from the house but they wouldn’t let him pass. Their crowd mentality, their hostily and venom, made him apprehensive so he called another neighbor, a mutual friend of his and the neighborhood crowd, and asked that friend to vouch for him so the neighbors would let him pass. The friend refused.

Those were crazy times, but a reason why a yard sale wasn’t an option–I didn’t think neighbors would allow anyone to participate in a yard sale at my home, IF anyone even tried to show up or buy anything!

So the crockpots met me in Utah and now sit on a shelf in my garage awaiting the someday I host a large group gathering again (if that day ever comes) or, alas, finally part with them in a yard sale!

Junk, leftover from my previous life, taking up space in my unexpected new one.

I’m hoping it’s true that, “Junk is the ideal product… the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy.” (William S. Burroughs) Someday.

Or maybe I’ll become an inventor. “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” (Thomas A. Edison) If that’s the case, I may qualify for a patent yet.

Regardless, I try not to worry about it too much. (A key to living an unexpected life: don’t worry, be happy.) Because, “You sometimes see a woman who would have made a Joan of Arc in another century and climate, threshing herself to pieces over all the mean worry of housekeeping.” (Rudyard Kipling)

Junk vs. Joan.

I’m going with Joan.