“What’d you do, go to Bowdoin or something?”

Those are the first words I heard from the woman with whom I recently celebrated 32 years of marriage.

At the time, I was coaching a Little League baseball team in Cockeysille Maryland, and my two sons and Tina’s older son were on the team. I was wearing a Bowdoin letter sweater (for golf), and she knew the Bowdoin colors as she had grown up in Brunswick.

We got married in the Bowdoin Chapel on Aug. 19, 1989, 12 years after we first met. My two sons (David and Jon) walked me down the aisle. Tina’s two sons (Ed and Andy) walked her down the aisle.

Tina and I have enjoyed a rewarding, fun-filled, whirlwind partnership over the last 32 years, filled with life’s ups and downs, blessings and bickering. I lost my two parents and she lost her mother. (Her dad had died in 1958.) We’ve attended the weddings of all four sons, and become the proud grandparents of six granddaughters and three grandsons. (Two of the granddaughters are now at Bowdoin — Karis Treadwell ’23 and Emma Barker ’25.)

We’ve been there for each other during the rough spots. Tina encouraged me to stop drinking in 1989, a soul-saving nudge. I stood by her side during her breast cancer in 1996 and her heart attack in 2002. She was there for me during my issues with atrial fibrillation and my bout with severe pneumonia.

We share joy in the same activities: Taking trips to Europe, the Caribbean, Canada and across the U.S.; doing the NYTimes crossword puzzle (she does the top half; I do the bottom half); playing Scrabble, Charades and Fictionary; and belonging to book clubs.

Our kids gave us a Black Lab (“Chowder”) for a wedding present. Chowder — who shared our love of friends, Maine and food — added much to our marriage, as he forced us to get outside for long walks everyday. We cried for weeks after he died in 2001.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our close connection with the 15 students (and their friends) we have come to know through the Bowdoin Host Family Program. Indeed, we have gained as much as they have through these win-win relationships.

She’s a natural extrovert and I’m an introvert, but over the years we’ve each moved closer to the center on the extrovert/introvert spectrum.

She’s taught me the joy of smelling the roses along the way. I’ve taught her that it’s okay to get to places on time — even, God forbid, early!

When I kid Tina about growing up in Lisbon Falls, Maine and going to an elementary school with no bathroom (students had to go next door and ask the neighbor if they wanted to go to the bathroom), she reminds me of my deep childhood roots in West Virginia. Point taken.

We each get along well with all four of our amazing sons, and that’s not always the case with blended families.

We don’t live in a neat spotless household, but our friends and relatives seem to enjoy being with us anyway. And, important, we don’t give a damn about keeping up with the Joneses or the Smiths or anyone else, for that matter. Brand names don’t bang our chimes.

I tolerate the stories she repeats over and over. She tolerates my oft-told ribald jokes — mostly.

We both grew up in Republican households, but we’ve both moved squarely into the Democratic camp

Tina has shown me the importance of recognizing and giving thanks to people who provide service — people behind the counter, housekeepers, etc. She says that I’ve taught her to be a better sport. She’s taught me to be more patient. I’ve encouraged her to follow through on good ideas, to tie the bow.

We both turn 80 next year. In fact, we took the liberty of sending our four sons an email suggesting that they might want to hold a celebration of our birthdays next summer. Happily, they all liked the idea. On a side note, the four sons held the Gilman School record swimming in the medley relay. We suggested that they might want to swim the relay when they visit next summer. They demurred.

Neither of us are close to perfect partners, for sure, but somehow our relationship has survived and deepened over the years. We do agree that no one else would put up with either of us.

Thanks, Tina, for entering my life. And yes, I did go to Bowdoin or something.

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns. [email protected] (David’s latest book co-authored with Anneka Williams, who graduated from Bowdoin College this past May, is entitled, “A Flash Fiction Exchange Between Methuselah and the Maiden: Sixty Stories to While Away the Hours,” is available at Gulf of Maine books (Brunswick), Mockingbird Books (Bath), Longfellow Books (Portland), Paul’s Marina (Brunswick), the Bowdoin Bookstore or on Amazon.)

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