My parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this weekend, which is awesome until you understand that the next thing to turn 50 will be their first born child, yours truly. A marriage commitment of 50 years warrants gold anniversary tidings and celebrations. 50 years old gets you a balloon that refers to you as ancient flatulence. The greeting card and party favor business is not always logical or kind…
Back to my parents- a half century is a long time to do life together and it’s not all sunshine and roses. My parents can argue with the best of anyone. They are so proficient at it, they are unaware they are even doing it. That’s a gift. My sister and I pointed this out to them when we were old enough to realize that their brand of spirited discussion was not the runway to divorce, rather just the way they communicate. My mother was oblivious and said, “We never argue. It must be only when you two are around.” Her denial is the age old analogy of a tree falling in a forest and no one being there to hear it. It’s an argument you cannot win, so clearly we are indeed dealing with a master.
Outside the arguing, my parents are a strange mix of two people from completely different backgrounds that just go together perfectly. My Dad is an extrovert born and raised in Boston. His childhood is a scrapbook of shenanigans. My Mom is introverted, the youngest of six, raised in Maryland, and the goodiest of all the goody two shoes. They were paired up together in the wedding of mutual friends in 1967 and while my mother found him obnoxious at first sight, she went out on a date with Dad shortly after and the rest is history. My sister and I try to puzzle out which one of them would be more lost with out the other and it tallies out dead even. They are so tightly woven together in interdependence, the two have truly become one. Call it stubbornness or kismet, but they have created something that endures.
When it comes to marriage longevity, there is some evidence that it may run in the family. My grandparents were married just shy of 75 years. You learn a lot from watching a marriage last for three quarters of a century. My Grandma always said her marriage advice was to “Stay sweethearts.” I appreciate that and she certainly had the years to back it up. But I also think that everyone writes their own recipe for marriage because we are, all of us, different types of ingredients. My parents’ marriage is different from my grandparents in the same way mine is different from theirs.
We took my parents out for a family celebration recently. It was a different 50th celebration than for my grandparents in 1978, where we gathered in a church basement and my sister and I sang “God is so Good” in matching dresses my mother had sewn for us. We celebrated this one with dinner at a local bistro and started with a champagne toast that got my Baptist mother tipsy and encouraged my Dad to move on to a martini. We had a great dinner with conversation and laughter, and that evening was a snapshot of what these last 50 years yielded- two daughters, two sons-in-law, five grandchildren, memories, laughter, and a few shenanigans.
We drove my parents home and I had Alexa play music from 1969. My parents got the biggest kick out of that. They don’t really have a song per se, so we were trying to capture the era. My Dad remembered a song that used to play at the airport when he was flying back and forth from Boston to Washington DC to visit my Mom before they were married. It was called, “Loving You Has Made Me Bananas,” by Guy Marks. We played the song and it was every bit as cheesy as you can imagine so of course my father remembered all of the words. They reminisced about how he would be waiting for his plane and this song would come on in the terminal and he would sing along while my mom sniffled because he was leaving.
As we got to their house, my Mom thanked us for the evening and she said, “It’s been 50 good years.”
I said, “Well, if you take the hard times out, doesn’t the good really factor down to like 45 years? Surely the rough spots would make up a chunk you could subtract from the good years.”
“No,” she said, “It all goes together, the good and the bad. That’s what makes up life. And when it all shakes out… it’s good.”
Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad. Thank you for these 50 years. Even though loving you both has <sometimes> made us bananas…it’s been so good.
P.S. And if anyone asks, could you say you waited ten years before you started having kids? Kthanksbye