This past weekend, my parents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary at the La Fontaine Bleu. Over 150 guests were in attendance to celebrate this feat. It was a poignant way to publicize the significance of this anniversary for my parents.
Retrospectively, sixty-five years is a long time. It’s more than a lifetime for many people. In addition to the considerable changes in my parents’ lives over the course of their union, the world changed. Their union withstood the Korean War wherein my dad and two of his brothers partook, but only my dad and one brother survived, the Vietnam War wherein my oldest brother was drafted and subsequently forever defined as a disabled veteran, the Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War. Their union also survived segregation and the Civil Rights Movements.
When choosing a life partner, there are no guarantees that it will last. However, my parents union has weathered many storms and they continue to adhere to the vows that they took 65 years ago – in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, till death do us part. Both have experienced illnesses. Together, they faced the loss of my dad’s mom and all of his siblings (nine total), the loss of my mom’s parents and five of my mom’s six siblings, along with the loss of three of their own 10 children. They have also witnessed tremendous growth to their family with the addition of 25 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren.
This celebration provided my siblings and me the opportunity to publicly articulate our love and appreciation for our parents. We were able to share stories from our childhood with special significance. For example, my sister shared a story of when she was in college and how my mom got up every morning to pack her lunch because my parents could not afford to give her money for lunch every day. She told of how much love she knew went into her lunches and how she proudly ate her lunch in the cafeteria with her other friends who purchased theirs.
I told a story of how being child number nine of the 10 children, I would pretend to be sick so that I could stay home from school and have my mom to myself. When I had my mom to myself, it felt like a piece of heaven because of the love and care she provided to me and only me. What’s amazing is how we each had wonderful stories to share of how special our parents made us feel in spite of being in a family with a lot of children.
Although the ceremony was beautiful, for me, it was also bittersweet. While taking pictures, I inadvertently reflected in the past on my parents’ 25th and 50th wedding anniversary celebrations when all of my siblings were there to rejoice. It was distressing that my parents were celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary without my three brothers and my sister. Unexpectedly, I became sad and began to tear up.
Haphazardly, I gazed up at my parents and noticed them smiling at each other and relishing in the moment. Sixty-five years of marriage and the love between them was still magnetic. Through all of the good and bad moments in their lives, they appeared happy. At that moment, I learned another important lesson from my parents. Carrying distresses in your heart, does not prevent you from cherishing important, happy moments. I quickly pulled myself together and basked in their celebration.
Peace & Love,