In just nine sleeps my family will all gather at our lakeside cottage to celebrate sixty years of my husband’s parent’s marriage – a remarkable anniversary to plan a three day party around. Only two years ago my side of the family joyously gathered to mark my mom and dad’s union of sixty years, as well. As we plan meals, count air mattresses, and life jackets, text directions and shopping lists for next weeks celebration – I wanted to re-post the blog entry from July 2013 – the year of the flood and the first big party…
My parents were married on June 22nd, 1953 in a small wooden church in central Alberta. All that day the rain poured down filling the country community yard with mud, so much so that the bridesmaid and her mother photographed their own muddy dress shoes after they pushed their car out of the muck leaving the dance that evening. Sixty years later on June 22nd Calgary, Alberta was waking up from one of the worst floods in its history. A week after, my parent’s children and their spouses, the grandchildren and two great grandchildren, drove and flew from three provinces to laugh under the sun umbrella,
skunk each other in cribbage,
jack knife into the cold lake,
and then they strung the cottage with streamers, set the fanciest table it had ever seen, bedecked the table with wild flower bouquets and finally broke bread together (along with roast beef and piles of local steamed vegetables).
After being presented with congratulatory letters from Stephen Harper and none other than her majesty, the Queen of England, the anniversary couple cut their cake, which was festooned with a miniature wedding couple that closely resembled the bride and groom during that year when ‘How Much is That Doggie in the Window’ was a hit song. As my dad placed his hand over my mom’s along the edge of the knife handle and sliced into the butter cream and chocolate cake, we asked them to reveal the secret to being married for these six decades. My dear, sweet mommy replied, “Tolerance.” And my funny dad said, “She kept the back door locked, so no escaping that way.” But really it has been love and admirable devotion, and really and truly having each other’s backs. I recently read a quote by the actor Jeff Bridges, who was also asked to explain the success of his long marriage. He replied that the secret to staying married – is staying married. And maybe you have to be into for a few decades to understand the meaning of that seemingly simple answer.