Sunday Lifestyle

How do you keep the music playing?

SECOND WIND - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star

One evening around July of 2016 I walk into the home of a lawyer who loves to sing and he plays the song How Do You Keep the Music Playing? “That used to be one of my favorite songs,” I tell him. He says, “It is one of my favorite songs, too.” I had no idea then that I would be marrying him soon.

You know the facts. Loy Ventura is 79 and I am 73. He is a widower who has been looking for a companion for many years now.  There have been many candidates offered to him by other people and by themselves but he didn’t find one. I met him only because I liked to sing and so did he. Slowly we became friends, but he didn’t think of me as a companion until one day a friend told him I once had beautiful legs. That got him curious.

He blames me, of course. He says I always wore pants and long shirts so he never really saw what I looked like. Suddenly he wanted to see what I looked like bare, and when he did, he decided he had found his desired companion and immediately asked me to marry him so we could have each other and not sin.

The miracle is: I agreed. I, who had been alone for too many years to count, who had sworn never to marry again, agreed to marry him.  What else can you do when you are so in love, so desirous of each other that you’re behaving like teenagers and all your friends are so happy and thrilled for you?

What do you do when the women of Sunshine Place give you a lingerie shower and stock you with the naughtiest nighties, the best wine, the most fragrant candles? You say thank you, feel so profoundly grateful that you made such wonderful friends who are so happy for both of you.

You think about the song and its words: “How do you keep the music playing? How do you make it last? How do you keep the song from fading too fast?” How, indeed? You try to make life more fun for each other every day. You hold hands everywhere. You laugh a lot and you think always of something s/he might want that you can get for him/her.  You try to make each day better than the last. You enjoy every moment that you’re together — like I’m writing right now and, a few rooms away, he is singing, trying to learn the words to a new Spanish song he likes to sing. I try to help him as we hold hands in the car on our way to a mall.

You have to give it your all, your deepest thoughts, yourself fully, your life. Then ask God for help. Pray that it does not fade at all.

How do you lose yourself to someone and never lose your way?  You learn daily when to hold back and when to be assertive. There’s a part of me that’s a disciplinarian, a part that everyone likes to criticize but I know it’s an effective part of me. When something isn’t happening the way it should be I put my foot down. When he comments that we’re different, I accept it. But I know I have not lost my way.

How do you not run out of new things to say? This is a puzzle. I don’t know the answer. All I know is we need to try on a daily basis. Come to think of it, “I don’t know” could be my answer to all the following questions of the song. And since we know we’re always changing, how can we be the same? I guess this implies an acceptance of our differences, a sensitivity to our changes, a vow to never judge one another but to continue to stretch and love and be grateful for the new.

And tell me how, year after year, you’re sure your heart will fall apart each time you hear his/her name? I don’t know, but I will constantly try.

I know the way I feel for you is now or never — that much I know.  The more I love the more that I’m afraid that in your eyes I may not see forever. Yes, that puts a bit of fear in me. I know that now, finally, I can commit to forever and I know he can, too.

If we can be the best of lovers yet be the best of friends, if we can try with every day to make it better as it goes, with any luck, then, I suppose the music never ends.

I hope we will grow in age and love together. I hope we will die of laughter together. I know we will be happy loving forever.

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