The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Love
Stories: Marilyn Twitchell and Jean Pyatt

Love
            Stories: Marilyn Twitchell and Jean Pyatt

Married: June 19,
2008 Together: 41 years

Looks can be
deceiving, particularly when it comes to Marilyn Twitchell,
83, and Jean Pyatt, 80. Sitting in front of their backyard
pool in Los Angeles’s Brentwood section, they
hardly seem like the spitfires they are. But in story
after story of their 41 years together, the women keep
dropping asides -- “I forgot to tell you I was a
fencing champion!”—that would trump the
main narrative of most people’s lives.

Pyatt was a dance
teacher and choreographer when they met; Twitchell was
a veterinarian with a private practice. Their first year
together, they lived in Malibu, where Pyatt’s
brand-new 1967 Corvette was stolen one night. That
misfortune launched them on a lifetime of travel.
“The insurance money took us to Africa,”
Pyatt says.

Back in Los
Angeles, the couple found their lifelong professional
passions. For Pyatt, it was flying. After her first lesson,
she says, “I came down with stars in my
eyes.” She embarked on a series of jobs in the
aviation industry -- flight instructor, airline transport
pilot, air traffic controller, FAA inspector, and
finally, senior air safety investigator for the
National Transportation Safety Board.

Twitchell became
one of California’s first veterinary eye surgeons
after first studying the human eye at Stanford
University, then studying animal ophthalmology at the
University of Pennsylvania. She and Pyatt flew there
in their Cessna 182 -- which they raced in their spare time.

When it came to
getting married, they took on the idea as they had so
many others. “Jean is a very private person, and
initially we thought it would be too public,”
Twitchell says. “But we just decided, ‘No,
it’s time.’ ”

Not ones to worry
about other people’s reactions, they were still
comforted to have the support of family. “My nieces
and nephews have known Marilyn since they were
born,” Pyatt says. “But we didn’t know
where we actually stood with most of her family until we let
them know we got married,” Twitchell adds.
“We had so much wonderful feedback from
everyone that I couldn’t believe it.”

They held their
wedding in the backyard on June 19; two other longtime
couples exchanged vows along with them. Well-wishers
festooned the house with balloons. “This house
was loaded with flowers -- from her family, from our
friends,” Twitchell exclaims. “It was
amazing.”

Today, the
newlyweds continue to travel the world. Pyatt, the dancer,
exercises every day. Twitchell enjoys making art; the house
is full of her paintings and sculptures. Asked what
about their relationship causes friction after four
decades, Pyatt can’t think of a thing. But
they’ve learned to give each other space.
“If I want to go off on a fishing trip with
friends, she wouldn’t care, and that’s a good
feeling,” Twitchell says. She pats
Pyatt’s hand and smiles, then adds, “But if
she wanted to go off, I wouldn’t like
it.”

Tags: World, World

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