Mike explains the difference in attitudes between the young when they are marrying and what happens for people who marry later in life: “When you’re young, you are looking for parents and someone to take care of you. When you choose someone at a later stage in your life, you’re looking for someone who really wants to build a relationship with you.”
Chistine was married twice before and has two children. She had remained single since her second divorce in 1992.
Mike was in an unhappy (he now realizes) marriage for 23 years, and also has two children. In 1995, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. He divorced in 1996.
The two met in 1998, at the urging of Mike’s sister (who was also divorced), who had been a close friend of Christine’s for many years. She kept telling Christine, “You should meet my brother,” and kept saying to Mike, “You should meet my best friend.” Mike was living in California at the time but flew up to Seattle to help his sister with a project, and agreed to meet Christine.
Years in a marriage that wasn’t working and dealing with Parkinson’s had taken a toll on Mike, but somehow he felt comfortable at his first meeting with Christine describing his past life. Their first date was at a restaurant, after which they returned to the home of Mike’s sister and sat is a hot tub talking for three hours. Christine says, “Our hearts were so similar. We knew what we wanted in a relationship, and we shared that information.
The next day, Mike’s sister and Christine were getting ready to leave for a singles’ cruise from Bellingham to the San Juans that they had reserved. Mike drove them to Bellingham to see if he could go on the cruise as well. He persuaded the boat company at the last minute to let him join the two women. Mike took a day off from work in San Francisco. On this six-hour adventure, Mike and Christine say they talked the whole time, and soon after this trip they realized this was the relationship they each wanted. By January 1st, 1999, Mike had transferred from his job in San Francisco to Seattle, and they rented a house together
A little over a year later, they married, much to the delight of Mike’s sister (who is still single and looking for the right relationship for herself). Christine was 47 and Mike was 50. Their wedding included 75 friends and family members.
When they first met, each was focused on a career. Mike was a mechanic for an airline, and Christine was an attorney specializing in family law.
In 2001, Mike was forced to retire due to the effects of Parkinson’s. At first, he and Christine bought five acres near Arlington and had horses, cows, goats and chickens. This “gentleman’s farm” was a dream they had both shared. With Mike’s retirement, they found themselves living this dream a little sooner than they had expected. But, Christine says this was a good lesson for them to not put off their dreams, but to live them while they can.
In 2004, they sold the Arlington property and moved to Whidbey Island to be closer to grandchildren. A short time later they purchased a small farm near Coupeville. .They have traveled extensively, thanks to flying benefits that Mike receives. Now that they are both retired, they do a good deal of volunteering, and Chris has become a professional artist with oil as her medium.
Mike says that “Chris is really easy to talk to, and I was looking for someone I could touch and who wanted to touch me.” Her understanding and acceptance of his Parkinson’s added a special dimension to their relationship.
They say they are continually working at improving their communication and making their relationship even better, though Chris says, “Others see us as having an incredible relationship.” They feel they have a deep sense of compassion for each other. Mike comments, “We are always there for each other, and we accept each other for who we each are, rather than trying to change the other person.” They feel they do an equal amount of giving and receiving.