How many people can say that they know someone that is in love? Sure, maybe you know someone that just started dating, ok, that’s easy, you can find it pretty commonly there. Newlyweds, that’s true, too, in those first few years that glow and love for one another is hard to beat. Recent numbers show 46% of people that were married 25 years ago are divorced. With the divorce rate as high as it is here, more than likely you won’t know too many people with a lasting love. But I do. My parents have been married for an astonishing 52 years. Not only together, but still in love. Hold their hands, look into their eyes and see gushing kind of love.
Their courtship began when they stumbled upon each other while they were staying at rooming houses on the beach in Wildwood, New Jersey. My momma caught my pop’s eye, and they met up later at some nightclub in the area, and the rest was history. Not long after they met, he was drafted into the army. Believe it or not, their courtship blossomed through the letters they wrote one another while he was fulfilling his military duty. Those heartfelt letters to one another not only allowed them to get to know one another intimately, but created the foundation for their deep love that is still going strong half a century later.
What is the secret to their happiness? I wonder if they really know. I suspect that they care for one another so deeply that any issues and problems that they’ve had together were worked out because they just didn’t see any other option. It’s something that they just did automatically because they have had such a mutual respect for one another throughout their togetherness, that they were able to work through any trouble that they had during the bumpy road of life that we all journey through ourselves.
It’s not to say that they did not have to tackle an issues in their togetherness. They did. Without throwing dad too much under the bus (but honestly this is one of the only issues that I can remember them working through in all these years), I can remember dad used to enjoy throwing back some suds with the guys. I know mom used to worry that he’d have too much and didn’t want him to get hurt or harm anyone else. He wasn’t a problem drinker, by any means, but he also didn’t think anything of hanging out once a week with the guys and enjoying himself with a few brews. He certainly didn’t believe he was going overboard. I know my dad is stubborn, as I have inherited that trait from him, and own it intimately myself. I don’t know exactly how they worked it out, as they didn’t really air things out in our view, but I know that they worked through it, because she eventually convinced him that he occasionally may be having one or two too many, and had the sense to let her drive if that were the case. I saw him take ownership of what was bothering my mother and work together to solve it.
I also know it was not easy parenting four kids. We all had our scrapes with getting into trouble, and certainly must have added stress to their lives. One thing that I definitely remember is their united front. No matter how much hot water each of us was in, they stood together in discipline, and you knew that there was no getting around their solid wall of parentage. This is one of my own parenting flaws that I still need to work on–sometimes I might disagree with Tom in front of my kids on a parenting matter because I am in the heat of anger. I have seen their example, and hope to work harder to attain this aspect of their relationship.
My father has also had to face a cancer scare as well. Some 15 odd years ago he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I was living in the DC area, and had made numerous trips back to Philly where dad was living as I was planning my wedding and we were hosting it in Philadelphia. My father’s doc had decided to remove his prostate, and made his surgery sound so routine, I was confident that once they removed his prostate, the cancer battle would be over. So, I decided to stay put, and cheer dad from afar. I will never forget when I talked to my weeping brother over the phone when he told me that his lymph nodes were filled with cancer and they had decided to just close him up and investigate other treatment options. Talk about a devastating blow and a guilt ridden daughter. I called up my then future hubby and we were on our way to visit my dad. We walked together into his room to find him alone and looking rather dapper. He had commented that he felt great, and it almost seemed as though they hadn’t done anything. ????? Hmm. Step out for a quick call to mom only to find that the surgeon left and hadn’t told him the news. Idiot doctor. Well, I certainly wasn’t going to tell him. We had arrived near the close of visiting hours, and had to depart, but met with the rest of the family to regroup. To make a very long story short, my dad very successfully defeated the cancer with radiation and chemo, and it no doubt helped him in his battle that he had the undying support of my mom and the rest of his family and friends. Thankfully he is still in remission in his 77th year today.
Back to the secret to their togetherness, Dad’s advice to Tom on our wedding day as he was giving me away was: compromise, compromise, compromise. I suppose he didn’t mean give up your principles, but more that you should sacrifice the things that really don’t matter if it means making your spouse happy. Definitely don’t give up on your principles, but you also need to listen to your partner and if something is really eating at them, try to come upon a happy medium to make both parties happy. This, of course, is easier said than done. I don’t know if I will make it to their current 52 years someday, but I sure as hell would like to try because I see how much happiness it has given them over the years. I think I have a pretty good shot, as I certainly have an amazing example to follow.
In closing, congratulations mom and dad on weathering 52 years together. I hope for many more and appreciate every year that you have been together. Happy Anniversary!