Today would have been a 65th wedding anniversary for my parents. I say would have been because both Mom and Dad never got to see 65 years of marriage. The year Dad died, we celebrated 60 years with them which is a monumental achievement for any couple.
Whenever we went to weddings and they did the dance where you have to leave the dance floor if you’ve been married less than 5 years, then less than 10 years, then less than 15 years, etc. Mom and Dad always ended up being the last couple. It seems today few couples make it anywhere near 50 years and amazingly they made it to 60.
Their love story is classically simple, charming and very much the all American dream: Dad married the girl next door a few months after returning from the Army. It was the early 1950’s and not unusual at all for a young couple to marry right out of high school and the service.
When Dad joined the Army during the Korean Conflict, Mom wrote him scads of letters. The only time I know of that my Dad wrote letters was to Mom during his Army service. His unit was due to ship out within days to Korea but luckily for us, Dad broke his ankle while standing in the chow line while still in basic training which caused his reassignment to Germany instead of Korea. We all agreed that was the best broken ankle ever since most of Dad’s unit did not make it back from Korea. The Army found Dad a trade and gave him advanced training in that trade. While in the service Dad honed his mechanical abilities and became a adept diesel mechanic. With his Army training, Dad knew he could support a wife and family upon his return to civilian life. So, after months of letters flying from Germany to the US and back and forth Dad proposed marriage on Christmas Day, long distance, in a letter from Germany. While still in high school Mom accepted. It was the 50’s….what can I say? Mom was always so proud of her soldier, her fiancé. She loved him fiercely until her last breath.
Mom graduated from high school in June of 1953, Dad returned from the service in the late summer of 1953 and they were married November 7, 1953. It wasn’t always easy. It was never just a breeze but, Mom and Dad loved each other enough to make things work. They shared common goals, understood the definition of family and loved each other with abandon. Like many other couples in the 1950’s they went on to raise 5 children. Parenting five active children I’m sure was a strain, testing their patience daily but, they were young enough to still play. We enjoyed our childhood even though we didn’t have much, we never knew we were poor. We felt wanted, we had fun and above all we were loved.
Through their 60 years, their love continued to grow until the time when Dad was committed to a memory care facility to help manage his advanced Alzheimer’s disease and then on to hospice. Mom’s love for Dad was enough that he always knew she was his. Even when he didn’t know any of us children or his own name, he still knew Mom was his. Sixty years of love. How many couples today stay together for sixty years?
Sixty years together. Sixty year of love and laughter. Sixty years of devotion to each other. That stability speaks volumes for the kind of love they shared and the loving household we called home.
So, Happy Anniversary to my Dad and Mom, now eternally together. Thank you for the fantastic example you set and the love you shared.