It’s that time of year again. On April 28 Polly and I will celebrate our sixtieth wedding anniversary.
I used to wonder if we’d make it to fifty. I’d see all those blurbs in the Sunday papers about folks celebrating their fiftieth anniversaries. Man, they were old. Shriveled up, superannuated relics with canes and aluminum walkers, crooked ties and toothless grins.
Would that be us?
And sixty? Good Lord, does anybody last that long?
Apparently they do. I looked in the paper a couple of weeks ago and there were more sixtieth anniversaries than fiftieths. And doggone if most of them didn’t look pretty damn good.
O.K. So maybe it’s my perspective.
Sometimes when I tell people I have been married for sixty years, they ask in disbelief, “To the same woman?”
Hell no, I say. She’s not the same woman at all. She used to be a pretty young girl, now she’s a beautiful old lady.
I guess that’s part of having a long marriage. You both keep changing. You have to keep falling in love, keep learning about each other. Keep committing and recommitting to the contract.
We’ve been married four times. At age 21, age 46, age 61 and age 71. Same ceremony. Same priest, except for the third time.
We’re not getting married again this year. Thought it might be kind of fun to live in sin for a while.
Son Bill was here for a few days. He brought a stack of DVD’s made from home movies, one of which was of Polly’s sixty-fifth birthday party.
What a treasure.
A black tie dinner at Walnut Hills Country Club with five of our six children and their spouses, except for Ellen who was still single. Son John was living in Minneapolis, and sent his regrets and good wishes.
The rest of them took turns ‘roasting’ the Guest of Honor. It was hilarious then and just as knee slappingly funny today. Except that now there is a touch of bittersweet nostalgia mixed in when I see how we all looked fifteen years ago and realize that yesteryear is only yesterday.
I suppose there are people who have been married a long time, but don’t have children. Or they have one or two kids who moved to California thirty years ago and never came back. But for me it’s all about family. Family meals. Family worship. Family pride. Family fun. Family traditions.
Forty years ago I was helping son Bill, then a pre-teen, to do his Christmas shopping. I stumbled upon a pair of brown jodhpurs. You know, those funny looking English riding breeches. They had been marked down from about thirty dollars. Marked way down. To 19.95. To 9.95. To 4.95. To 1.95. And finally to ten cents! Billy bought them for his sister Peggy.
Needless to say, Christmas morning brought peals of laughter about Peggy’s gift.
Well, the next year, didn’t Peg give them back to Bill. And thus began the great jodhpur exchange. At every large family gathering, somebody gets the riding breeches. They now display an embroidered history of the presentations, which include the traditional trying on and posing for pictures. And of course, the infamous price tag is still attached.
It’s especially challenging when a couple of grandsons who are built like NFL line backers try to squeeze into those ten cent trowsers.
But somehow they do. Because it’s tradition. Because it’s family.
Silly stuff to be sure.
But it’s the stuff that sixty year marriages are made of.