Country Living Series

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Diamond anniversary

Hey everyone, guess what??!! Today is my parents' 60th wedding anniversary! That's right, sixty! Six decades! Sorry for the numerous exclamation points, but I think it's wonderful.



In tribute, I dedicated last weekend's WND column to them.



Diamond anniversaries: Rare as, well, diamonds

Once upon a time in 1931, a baby girl named Lucille was born into what would eventually become a huge family of 13 children.

This wasn’t a happy close-knit family, though. The children were terrorized by a brutal alcoholic father and a blind mother perpetually cowed by his rampages. He habitually beat the holy tar out of his children, leaving one or two of Lucille’s brothers with mild brain damage as a result.

The family frequently starved. Isolated in the bayous of Louisiana, her father was a fisherman who often drank what little income he had. With so many children, the family seldom had enough to eat. Lucille was so thin that even in her mid-20s she weighed a mere 87 pounds.

Knowing she had to get out of there, Lucille knew her best option was education. Just about the only job opportunities open to women back then were teaching or nursing. She became a nurse.

She grew into a woman of uncommonly fine common sense. Much of her education outside of nursing was self-taught. She learned to sing. She grew to love classical music. Most important, she made herself a promise never to treat her future children as she herself was treated during her childhood.

She knew what a mistake it would be to marry someone like her own brutal father. Instead, she concentrated on excelling in her chosen profession. At age 26, she met a nerdy man named Michael when they both sang in a church choir. Lucille recognized that, nerdiness aside, here was a man who would be an excellent father and husband. She was right. Michael turned out to be a man with a brilliant mind and a kind disposition.

Sixty years ago this very day – on August 30, 1958 – this couple stood in church and made vows to each other before God and family.

I’ve seen the black-and-white photos. There stood a skinny woman in an all-lace dress, facing a man four years her junior in front of a priest. Probably both of them were nervous.

Almost exactly four years later, following the birth of their first son, I was born.

My parent’s married life wasn’t always easy. It was plagued with recurrent health problems with my mother, who underwent a dozen major operations for various ailments, some of which can be traced to the abuse she experienced as a child. (One year as a joke Christmas gift, my father gave her a “gift certificate” to our local hospital.)

My mother suffered through multiple miscarriages and staggeringly difficult pregnancies, so complicated that after three live births my parents gave up having more biological children and adopted my youngest brother to complete their family. My father survived a cancer scare and then a grave heart attack that nearly killed him.

They faced serious financial hardship when my father left his corporate job and started his own business about the time the 1970s recession and oil crises hit. But they persisted, working together to overcome the obstacles fate threw in their path. My father’s cool head for business and sound ethics meant his company gradually grew, despite the economic slowdown. My mother could have gone back to work as a nurse, but she knew the importance of staying home with her children.

My parents always put family over profit. While their wallets were often thin, their hearts were full. They tempered their challenges with humor, love and marital devotion. They gave their children the blessings of a stable home, something I took for granted until I reached adulthood and recognized it for the gift it is.

They cheered us on our childhood activities and kissed the booboos when we failed. They sacrificed financially to send us to college. They were always there for us. I could always count on that, and still do.

Their example is the foundation for my own happy, stable marriage. Without the illustration of what true commitment was like, I doubt I would have been as fortunate in my choice of husband. Now the gift is being handed down to my children, their grandchildren. And so the legacy continues.

This is not a big story of earth-shattering importance. This is a small story about two people in a world of billions. But these two people – along with the millions of other small stories out there – are the real hope for a better world. Small stories add up, and that’s why I’m writing this.

Long-term stable marriages are increasingly rare in this country as the culture of divorce takes over. My mom will be 87 in a few days, and my dad just turned 83. The gratitude I feel toward my parents for the example of six decades of marital unity can’t be underscored enough.

According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, only seven percent of marriages make the 50-year mark. How many make 60 years? I don’t know, but I suspect these “Diamond anniversaries” are as rare as, well, diamonds.

What’s the secret for 60 year of happiness? It starts with love, of course, but it’s more than that. My parents knew they were compatible in critical areas such as faith, finances and family, and that helped immeasurably toward marital harmony. Just as important is respect. My folks have never torn each other down; they’ve only built each other up. Even in hard times, they knew divorce was not an option, so they buckled down to make things work.

Last month my parents came up for a visit here on our Idaho homestead. My Dad treated us to Chinese takeout (a rare indulgence), and my husband and I sat around the table with them and enjoyed the food. Afterwards, Dad opened his fortune cookie. The slip of paper read: “The gift of contentment is in your near future.”

“Already have it,” Dad said with a smile, and dropped the fortune on the table.

I saved that fortune. Why? Because it SO encapsulates the love my parents have for each other and for their kids and grandkids.

Happy Diamond Anniversary, Mom and Dad. I love you.

26 comments:

  1. My wife and I just celebrated our 50th. If we make it to our 60th I will be 83 so it is not out of the question. Your mother's journey is inspiring to come from the background that she did and then going on to live the life that she has.

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  2. Congratulations to them. It is a rare occurrence. My parents hit 61 years together this year. I hope I can make it as many. Our 30th anniversary was yesterday.

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  3. Your parents truly are wonderful role models. You're so blessed to have them.

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  4. Yeehaa - good on them, a rarity in our so called modern times. I know of a few couples, one married 51 yrs, the parent of the second & third, each married 26 and 27 respectively. Guess it runs in the family. Each are Christians and believe in working through problems, whatever they may be, as opposed to just cut & run when the gong gets tough....

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  5. I was going to add this but forgot. My mother's parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary back in the 1950's. That was very rare back then. My mother's nickname was Dolly because she was a premie, weighed something like 2 lb. She lived in a shoe box on the door of an opened stove and survived. She lived to be 96.

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  6. Congratulations to your parents and to you. My grandparents were married 65 years when my grandfather passed away. My parents are at 51 years and Hubby and I just celebrated 25 years.

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  7. Beautiful tribute. Congratulations to your parents! May the Lord continue to bless them - and you.

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  8. My parents made it to 63....although dad fell, broke a hip a day before. I joked with him that he could avoid taking her out dinner less dramatically.

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  9. My mother in law passed last year 2 months shy of 70 years with father in law, he married her 1 month short of the beginning of her senior year in high school he was just starting college. We all laugh at the thought that he had to sign all her paperwork in school. They had 6 terrific and well adjusted kids who are now all grandparents. I think their success stems from being strong Christians. Congrats to your parents.

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  10. My husband's parents were married for just over 70 years.
    Their wedding was in the early part of World War 2. Dad sailed off to war the next day. My father in law lived to the grand age of 97, passing away in 2015. My mother
    in law died a few years earlier at the age of 93. They are remembered with love and respect by all their family and many friends.
    My grandmother was one of eight children. All the children in this family married and eventually celebrated their golden (50 years) wedding anniversaries.
    My husband and I will have been married 42 years in December. We hope to keep up the family tradition of having many more anniversaries.

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  11. think of a world of people with your parents' morality; no prisons, no door locks, almost no fear, no war.
    when Jesus comes, He will pitch His tent among such people.

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  12. Both my husband's parents and mine made it to sixty years of marriage before our dads passed. One was a long standing Christian home and one wasn't. Even though my folks weren't believers, they made it through years of my dad being a raging alcoholic. Dad quit drinking about the time I graduated high school and my parents had many happy years. My parents making it through those years together taught me perseverance. My husband and I have been married 37 years. I don't think our children appreciated that until they got out in the world and realized how rare a stable home is. I tell my kids you will be lucky if you still like your husband after all these years but you will be blessed if your heart still goes pitter patter when he walks through the door. Mine does.

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  13. Well, Patrice, I have to disagree with you. This is, in fact, "a big story of earth-shattering importance." Challenges tempered with humor and love, devotion to each other and the children, and a stable home can work miracles.

    I think I've told stories about my own grandparents. Were they perfect?? No, they weren't. They both carried the scars of abusive childhoods and the eugenics movement. They were anxious all the time, and pathologically obsessed with "What will people SAY?!" Nobody's perfect down here, but with devotion, hard work, dedication, love, and humor, God used them to work miracles everywhere they went.

    Give your parents my congratulations. They are, indeed, more precious than diamonds.

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  14. Please share my congratulations with your parents, Patrice! My parents will celebrate 55 yrs this year. DH parents have 60 some years together. DH and I met late in life, and won't reach those milestones. But we both know that we will be together forever, literally and spiritually. It took both of us growing up, making mistakes and learning from them, I will be sharing this over on FB, to acknowledge your parents, mine, and my inlaws as well. It is a true testament to perseverance, love, and committment that is sorely lacking in society today.

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  15. My Grandparents were married 65 years when my Grandmother passed away. At the viewing my Grandfather sat by the casket and kept saying over and over, she is the most beautiful woman in the county. I told my wife that a stranger would look at her and see an old wrinkled woman. In my Grandfather's mind all he could see was the beautiful bride he had married, the toil of life hadn't changed a thing.

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  16. Aw, Patrice, how blessed you are! I wish more people understood that contentment is a wonderful thing! Emotions, like hormones, ebb and flow, but a person who can learn to be content has learned a valuable lesson. Congratulations to your parents! And blessings to you for always making me think, or smile, or get up and do something that matters. :)

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  17. What an absolutely wonderful tribute to your folks. My wife and I would have been married 50 years last month, I hope my son can write such a tribute to us when I am gone.

    Carl in the UP

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  18. We celebrated my folks 60th anniversary last year. We all went to the beach where they used to take us when we were kids. It was the first time all 3 daughters have been under the same roof since I left for college 40+ years ago. Not only did we enjoy spending precious time with Mom and Dad, we also spent time with each other. We enjoyed it so much, we did it again this year, and are planning to do it again next year.
    Congratulations to your folks!!

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  19. I think you'll see long marriages in rural america. I know of many many local couples who've reached 50, and are rapidly moving in on 60. Both sets of my grandparents made more than 60 years together. My folks are rapidly getting there. Since DH and I didn't marry until we were in our 30's, I just want to reach 50 years together. But, I do think long marriages cluster in rural areas. No science or real survey, but divorce rates in my rural area are low--which is what I'm basing my thoughts on.

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  20. So beautiful, Patrice. Praise God! Thanks for sharing that tribute.

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  21. My husband's grandparents just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Both are in their 90's now. Through financial hard times, farm work, loss of a 15 yr old son and just the knocks of life. They have been through it all and still live at home taking each day as it comes. Quite remarkable to me.

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  22. My husband's grandparents just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Both are in their 90's now. Through financial hard times, farm work, loss of a 15 yr old son and just the knocks of life. They have been through it all and still live at home taking each day as it comes. Quite remarkable to me.

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  23. I worked at an assisted living facility years ago and took care of a man who was in his 90's, Mr. Lloyd. He had recently lost his wife after 75 yrs of marriage.

    He had been raised on a farm and married at 18 then felt called to be a pastor.

    At night we'd talk about his life. He confided in me that many times he'd wake up calling her name. He said he could feel her next to him, the warmth and smell her perfume. He couldn't wait to see her again.

    He's since passed on and I always think about her running to him as he entered heaven and embracing the love of her life. Never to be seperated again.

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  24. I worked at an assisted living facility years ago and took care of a man who was in his 90's, Mr. Lloyd. He had recently lost his wife after 75 yrs of marriage.

    He had been raised on a farm and married at 18 then felt called to be a pastor.

    At night we'd talk about his life. He confided in me that many times he'd wake up calling her name. He said he could feel her next to him, the warmth and smell her perfume. He couldn't wait to see her again.

    He's since passed on and I always think about her running to him as he entered heaven and embracing the love of her life. Never to be seperated again.

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