Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on January 30, 2000 · Page 25
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 25

Ukiah, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 30, 2000
Page 25
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2000: "Our travels as a couple still have a long way to go," the empty nesters write, "and now our children have started on their own journeys." when he doesn't want to put himself out. Other times, he is absolutely right; if we operated the way I instinctively operate, we would never have a minute to ourselves. We'd be overtaken by other people's demands. Steve: At times she allows our lives to be dictated too much by other people. She can push herself to exhaustion with the demands of work and entertaining and caretaking. I love having our home be the center of family events. But Cokie has finally learned our house can't always be the center. Other people in the family and other friends want the chance to be the host, and not always come to us. Cokle: That's true. Steve: Sometimes there aren't enough holidays to go "We've heard marriage described as 'an unlimited commitment to an unknowable partner/And that's true. It's an act of faith." around. Our niece, Elizabeth, who's very special to us, is married to a Danish man, and in Danish culture, Christmas Eve is a special time. So they've made a big point in the last few years of making it their holiday. It's a good example of the next generation saying, "We don't always want to be the kids. We want to be the grown-ups." And it's important to give them that chance. I've discovered that with my journalism students as well. I have a deal with them: When they're undergraduates and don't have any money, I always pay when we go out to some campus joint. Once they graduate and have jobs and want to take me out to lunch, I will happily accept. Cokle: It's a passage. And it's nice -for kids to have adult friends who are not their parents. To have someone who is interested in you and cares about you but does not have the emotional baggage of a parent-child relationship. But it's good the other way around, too — for ua to have young Mends who are not our children. Steve: Another thing IVe learned from Cokie is the spirit of charity. Growing up in a more private setting meant we were more inward-looking as a family. My parents were public-spirited, and my father was very involved in local politics and civic organizations and gave money to causes he cared about. But for Cokie, charity is a part of her everyday life. She practically has a florist on retainer, and she visits so many hospital rooms she could probably qualify for degrees in several medical specialities. Or at least she thinks she could. Cokie: Steven, who's a naturally generous and gregarious person, likes to schedule his time. But sometimes things happen that demand attention, regardless of the schedule. If s not what you planned that day—too bad. Steve: On a recent Sunday, our newest great-nephew was born. At about 8 or 9 o'clock, we'd just finished dinner, and Cokie announced, "Come on. Let's go to the hospital. We have to meet William." So we did. Cokie: It's easy to convince Steven to throw plans to the winds when our own kids are involved. We miss them so much that we'll take any opportunity to see them. But we've had to adjust to the fact that they have other families who want to see them. Steve: Like every couple, when we got married, we had to work out a holiday schedule. Cokie felt strongly about celebrating the religious holidays with her family, so the Robertses got Thanksgiving. We made it into an annual reunion and tried to spend several days together. After our daughter, Becca, got married, she decided to spend Thanksgiving with her husband Dan's family, and the first year was tough for us. In fact, I wrote a column about it, "The Empty Chair at the Table." It was a sign that they now had obligations to other families. They didn't belong only with us anymore. Cokie: Distance also creates problems. When our son, Lee, and his wife, Liza, moved to London and couldn't get home for Christmas, they spent it in Rome with my mother [Lindy Boggs, U.S. ambassador to the Vatican], For the millennium, we had this extended family in Rome together. What could be better? Steve: The year after Lee got married, I opened a Christmas card from his in-laws, and there was a picture of their whole family — including Lee! It was a shock to see my son peering out from another family's Christmas card! Some years ago, the priest at our nephew Paul's wedding described marriage as "an unlimited commitment to an unknowable partner," and that's true. Marriage is an act of faith, as well as hope. Not every marriage endures, and not every marriage should — we know that. But marriage will never work without that "unlimited commitment" to the future. Cokie: When we go to weddings, we find ourselves becoming sentimental and teary. I've noticed that's true of other long-married couples, who nod through the ceremony, squeezing each other's hands as the bride and groom pledge "to have and to hold, from this day forward." Those newlyweds can't possibly know what that promise will mean. We didn't, either, when we said those words that beautiful September night when we were so young. We Ve been incredibly blessed. So far, we've lived for better, not worse; richer, not poorer; and in health, not sickness. Still, after 83 years, we can't anticipate what will happen from this day forward. But we're eager to find out. va CLICK ON LINKS if At UMweetttntUom. read the 1997 cover story by Cokle and Steve Roberts that led to their new book. USA WEEKEND - Jan. 28-30,2000 7

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