This past weekend I watched some of the US Tennis Open, feeling a little guilty for sitting around in the middle of the afternoon when there were so many things on my “to-do” list. It felt strange to be watching by myself—especially in the middle of the day.
Adrian and I never watched TV during the daytime—unless there was a tennis match on. Then we could spend hours doing it, after which we would be inspired to get out on the courts ourselves and play.
On one of our early dates, Adrian took me to Philadelphia to see Jimmy Connors play. Connors was always one of our favorites, along with John McEnroe. We watched Billy Jean King beat Bobby Riggs and loved the battles between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.
After I met Adrian, my life became filled with tennis—playing it, watching it, reading books about it. My favorite book was The Game of Inner Tennis. It suggested turning the sport into a kind of meditation, which actually helped my game when I played that way.
We followed the younger players coming up, too, and were thrilled to see the young Williams sisters thrive. But as Adrian’s dementia worsened, he didn’t enjoy watching tennis as much, and physically could no longer play it.
Tennis dropped out of his life, and gradually, out of mine.
Finding it a waste of money and time, I no longer subscribe to the TV channels that cover most of the tennis matches—ESPN and the Tennis Channel. That means I can only watch a match if CBS or NBC covers it. Or sit in front of the computer—not my idea of entertainment.
It was pleasant this weekend to watch a match or two on TV. My sister Laura—whose husband also died recently—emailed me the TV schedules. And when there’s a good match on, we call each other to see if the other one is watching it.
Laura and I find that we share a lot more things these days, even if she does live in Florida and I live in New York. On vacation this past June, we even got to play tennis together.
I remember when we used to play doubles with our husbands. In later years, both of them had problems moving on the court, but could hit the ball well. So the men would stand in place pretty much while Laura and I ran after the balls.
It’s the good memories like this one that I focus on these days. I haven’t forgotten the pain of Adrian’s last months, but our thirty-plus good years together comfort me now.
Adrian on the tennis court in Tallahassee, Florida.