“Oh, that was last Tuesday, I think.”

You know you’ve been together a long time as a couple when significant dates in your relationship quietly sneak by unnoticed and afterward you both only laugh.

My wife and I are now in our 36th year of being together. The math consists of six years of me trying to gain her confidence and another 30 with rings on our fingers. Mix in two children, two dogs and living in over a half-dozen cities and you get the idea of why we are easily confused when asked to provide a ZIP code when checking out of a grocery store.

I am still not sure why she said yes between classes that day in college. Like I’ve said before, she is smart. Maybe I caught her on an off day. It happens.

So here we are decades later laughing with each other because we can’t seem to remember dates on the calendar. Empty-nesting they call this stage. Whatever it is, we call it awesome.

We’ve seen things we never ever dreamed existed, discovered emotions we never knew could be felt and already realize there are not enough days left to spend with each other.

Today, as empty nesters, we are in a new stage of life. Together we’ve raised and launched two remarkable adults into the world, yet can’t wait to see each other at the end of the day. We had no idea there was this figurative pot of gold waiting at this stage in life.

The other day, a friend was telling me about how he and his wife loved their newfound freedom to simply drop and go. No questions asked, no worries. He laughs as he says this is the best part of marriage no one tells you about. Sixteen days exploring Utah without a schedule will do that to you, I guess.

But arriving here together is so rewarding. We are both comfortable with who we are, don’t feel threatened by the other and can’t imagine where we end and the other begins. Not to sound sappy, but this could turn out to be the best stage of life yet.

One night, my wife and I were sitting around talking about society’s reverence of youth. When we asked what age do we see each other, we both landed on a window when our relationship went from dating to falling in love. Between our ears we seem to see each other as some version or continuation of the person the other fell in love with decades ago. It is as if maybe love has the magical ability to distort time between our ears.

Along the way, we’ve been broke, more than broke and not broke. We’ve also faced births, deaths and times not knowing if we would survive another day. But somehow, by the hand of God and a little maturity, we’ve arrived at a place where dates on the calendar mean more inside our hearts than on a piece of paper.

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207; leonard.woolsey@galvnews.com

President & Publisher of The Galveston County Daily News.

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