A golden or 50th wedding anniversary is a celebration of life. A life shared and built together through commitment and love, without these it is impossible to achieve. It is a great honor that deserves reverence and celebration. Something I didn’t understand as we prepared for both sets of my grandparents’ celebrations. Togetherness that spans half- a century is becoming rarer with each new generation.
I get it now. The first time I was a part of this type celebration I was barely 18. The concept of how hard marriage actually is, was still a foreign concept to me. I still somehow believed with real love came harmony and ease. “All you need is love.” All that simplified crap that led me to believe such an achievement was no big deal.
I was seeing the end result, I was too young to see and understand the struggles. I saw my grandfather pick at grandma because he liked to rile her up. He once told me, “She’s so pretty when she’s mad.” Yet, I didn’t see my grandmother praying while he was having a lung removed because of cancer. I didn’t see the worry as my grandfather lay in the hospital with a heart attack. I saw trips in the motor home, camping and fishing.
While I lived the struggles with my parents I truly could not understand as they did their best to shelter us from them when they could. They disciplined us as a team. ‘Wait until your father gets home.’ wasn’t because Mom didn’t have the authority to discipline or give permission, but because they strive to be a unit in ALL decisions. I saw many of my friends get negative answers from one parent, only to be able to obtain permission from the other. In some cases, pitting parents against each other. This seldom happened in my house, and if one found out the other had already said ‘No.’ the permission would be revoked and we’d be grounded. The consequences generally we not worth slim chance of success.
The closer we got to my parents 50th anniversary celebration the more I realized, I had a more realistic understanding of just how special this all was. While personally, I have two failed marriages to my credit. One lasted 5 years of which 3 we were separated. My second 10 years together and currently separated. My sister has one failed marriage while my brother still hasn’t married. I can’t speak for my siblings but this is not something I am proud of.
During my parents 50 years they have stuck it out through impossible challenges, many would have called it quits over. They survived Vietnam, Agent Orange, and PTSD. While my sister was wonderfully healthy, my brother was born with a very rare disease that they did not know if he would survive. Multiple surgeries before he was even a month old, in the last 50 years there have been only about 300 people diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s Disease. They spent almost 2 years going back and forth to Children’s Hospital. Yet, they survived.
When I came along they recommended my mother terminate her pregnancy with me, fearful that I may have the same issues. She suffered miscarriage type symptoms complete with passing many clots and solid substances leading them to believe I should have been a twin and one lost. Again, they recommended termination and my parents decided that God would end the pregnancy if that was what should happen. But, I’m here writing this now. I also was born with health issues though no where near what my brother faces. I was born with Congenital Hip Dysplsia and under developed hip sockets. I wore braces on my hips as a baby.
We weren’t easy kids either. I think we all ran away at least once, usually over something stupid. My sister was hell bent on living a severely more secular lifestyle, and us younger kids paid for it in even stricter rules and more involvement at church. Although, the church part didn’t bother me and my brother so much it severely chaffed my sister. By sixteen she would leave not to return until she was in her twenties. My parents’ marriage survived. While I never saw them cry over this, I did hear it and more than once I saw my mom standing in the hall just staring at my sister’s room. For the most part we were fairly good kids, although I did get busted for shop lifting. Once. From Sears they gave me a lifetime ban which I did not break until last year. I bought a heater, it was a really good sale.
My parents always had an open-door policy for us and now our children. All of us have moved home at least once out of necessity, and were greeted with love, understanding and support. And my father telling us “Your mother will not do your laundry.” And she doesn’t. The grand kids and great grand kids are welcome at any time and requested frequently.
Mom and Dad declared years ago that their house is Switzerland. No mater what we maybe squabbling with each other about It gets left at the door. We all get together for birthdays, Christmas eve, Thanksgiving and Mother’s and Father’s days. We try to leave the drama at the door. And for the most part we enjoy these get gatherings. They keep us rooted.
As they have aged time has affected their bodies and my father is now a paraplegic, completely dependent on others. There have been a few times this year we worried Mom would not make it to this monumental mile stone with my father. As he declines daily, he still fights to be here. While there are many daily challenges they again survive this as they have survived everything else. Together.
We celebrated 50 years today with so many wonderful friends. People who have played a big part in our family’s histories. I couldn’t be more thankful for those who came today to share in this celebration.