Elizabeth Taylor and Us
FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez Ventura (The Philippine Star) - April 14, 2019 - 12:00am

My husband loves to watch YouTube and these days I’ve been sitting watching with him. We sat through a life story of Elizabeth Taylor, one of the most beautiful actresses in the world. So she had eight husbands. I understood her. She wanted a man who would be with her a lot. She grew up without a father. Women who grow up without fathers are always in search for a man who will take care of them and be with them most of the time. Like her husband Mike Todd, but unfortunately he died in an airplane crash. The closest she got was Richard Burton. They were together the longest.

After Richard Burton she married a senator, whose name I don’t remember. She enjoyed going with him on his campaigns. But after he won, she found herself mostly alone. She moved to Washington, a totally different world. She became a politician’s wife. She had no friends. She spent her days mostly alone at home. She put on a lot of weight and finally got addicted once again to painkillers.

Suddenly I sat up straight. That’s exactly how I felt with the partner who was with the government. I was alone a lot. I ate a huge merienda of garlic fried rice, dried fish with vinegar and chilis, washed down with rosé, the pink wine that I discovered tasted good with sinangag and tuyo. My husband went to New York without me and told a friend that he didn’t bring me because I had gotten fat. Of course, she let me know.

I kept profoundly quiet. That means I am dealing with big issues. I stopped my merienda. I went back to work. I lost 13 pounds and looked good again, but not for my husband; I looked good for myself. I did not want to face the truth at first, but in the end, I faced it bravely. I was unhappy with him. I no longer loved him. That began our downhill slide. Strange that it became crystal clear to me 40 years later, when I watched the story of Elizabeth Taylor.

I had lunch with two of my dearest friends. One, much younger, who just left her husband and was settling into all the difficult travails of that ended relationship. The other, exactly my age, was a happy widow, who remembered that when she saw me last and asked me if I would marry again, I had said, “Not in a million years.”

She made me laugh. I told her, “I just erased the six zeros.” Anyway, they were only zeros. The young friend said she was often thinking of what she could have done to change her whole situation. Don’t worry about that, we advised. It’s over. That happened yesterday. Nothing more you can do to reverse the situation. Think about what will make you happy. Live your life day to day. Things will change. The problems you have with your children will go away. One day you may wake up feeling alone and lonely or maybe you will be alone and happy, like she is, like I thought I was until I met my husband who asked me to marry him and I erased all the zeros and married him. Now we are happy. We live a simple life and we are very happy together. I thank God often for showing me that all is never totally lost.

Our other friend agreed. She had been unhappy with her husband sometimes also but she knew how to handle the situation, she took time for herself, and now she feels free and really happy to have her life completely in her hands.

I think that’s the lesson women have to learn. We have to learn to recognize when we are unhappy and we have to do something about it. We should have no regrets, no looking back, no “If only I had done...” moments. We are all entitled to our own happiness but we have to craft it ourselves.  We must not listen to the advice other people give. In the end, we only must listen to our hearts, to the God in us who tells us what to do. In the end, our lives work out and we are happy.     

One of my daughters is getting married and I am going to her wedding in San Francisco. So I have rummaged through my yarn and knitted sweaters for the cold. I will only be away for 12 days. I am flying over alone with my grandson, Nicc, but I am flying home alone. If you want to order medicines from me, hold it for 12 days. I won’t be here to attend to your wishes. As you read this, I am already there taking a well-deserved holiday. But I will be back soon. I will miss all of you but especially I will miss my husband. Oh, di ba?

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