What's the secret for a successful marriage?
If I knew that, I'd be hosting my own infomercial on late night TV.
But I think that before you can be successful in marriage, you first have to be successful as a human being.
The world and society has changed tremendously in the last 50 years. In the 1950s, men expected to work for the same company for 40 years then retire with a gold watch. Women expected to marry and raise a family in the suburbs. Television was replacing radio as the entertainment of choice. The Cold War and McCarthyism were in full swing.
Into this time, we have a newly married couple trying to start their life together. Add a baby girl eight months after their wedding day, then a premature baby boy nine months after that. Somehow they managed. He got his engineering degree and they had another baby boy two years later. They moved from Rochester to Minnesota to California to New Jersey. They managed through cars that broke down, isolation from their families, and small children that liked to 'help' Mom and Dad.
In the early 1960s they moved to Western New York and completed their family with another girl. There was one more move, to their house on Bear Ridge Road in Pendleton, but things were stable now. This time generated most of their cherished family stories. The days were filled with school, Little League, and Girl Scouts. He worked, mowed the lawn, and kept the plumbing working. She kept house, did a little gardening, and painted. And painted. And painted.
Then something extraordinary happened. She wanted to complete her GED and go to college. He supported her fully. Somehow they managed and in a few years we had a new RN in the family.
The next years saw the children growing up and moving away. There were trials in these days, too, jobs lost and found, marriage ups and downs, children getting married & divorced, the deaths of their parents, the arrival of grandchildren. Somehow they managed.
He retired while she kept working. He did the dishes and went shopping. He drew the line at cleaning the toilets, though. Then she retired and they sold the house in Pendleton. They simplified their lives in order to have the time and money to do the things they love, especially traveling.
A year ago, Dad was in the hospital. The cardiologist advised surgery. Dad was worried about missing his 49th wedding anniversary that week. The doctor said he wanted to make sure Dad was there for his 50th. He had the surgery. It's been a trying time, but somehow they managed.
Tonight we're here to celebrate Neil and Emily's fifty years of marriage. They managed because they're both successful human beings, able to be both an individual and a partner. They managed through changes in the world and changes in society and changes in themselves.
Several months ago, Dad told me how proud he was of Mom, how she had changed and grown over the years to become the person she is today.
Mom, Dad, I want to say to the both of you, how proud I am of the people you've become through fifty years of marriage. I love you.
Mom always said there were 3 types of people in the world - those who can count and those that can't.
Mom really did say there were 2 types of people in the world - spenders and savers. Guess which one Dad is!
Dad was always looking for ways to save a few pennies. I remember when pop was for sale for a nickel a can with a 5 can limit. We would buy them, put them in the car and then go back in for more and get in a different line.
Dad figured his taxed to the penny because he knew the IRS was going to make money on him rounding to the nearest dollar.
We'd go to the republican's and then the democrat's rally - why, free food.
That's why my Dad's favorite stories are ones like the free ice cream they got at the dump or how when he was in the Navy and bugs got in the flour they made raisin bread.
By the way, that was when men were iron ships were wood.
One of our favorite things to do as kids was make a giant tub of popcorn to munch on, grab a root beer and watch slides. Except when Dad pulled out his Navy slides - 3000 photos of water.
The day I joined the Navy Dad told me this. He and a Marine were peeing in a restroom. As he was leaving the Marine was washing his hands and said "in the Marines they teach us to wash our hands after using the bathroom". Dad's reply "In the Navy they teach us not to pee on our hands".
We had a shower in the basement. In the spring you had to walk through standing water to get to it. Then you had to kill all the spiders. Just when you started enjoying it Dad would turn off the hot water. Then we'd hear the story about how they only got 2 minute showers in the navy.
Some times when we had a very wet spring we couldn't use the bathroom and we would go to Creekside Bowling Alley. We always wanted Mom to drive us because she felt you should buy something if you do that.
Speaking of Mom, she would try and save money by being creative in the kitchen.
When I was 5 or 6 years old she went out and purchased 1/2 a cow. Dad was surprised when he came home from work. We ate that cow day after day, moth after month, in fact we didn't finish it until today Hope you enjoy(ed) you filet migion.
Mom used to make these things called Tuna fish wraps cooked in the oven on wax paper, They tasted like - wax paper. Mom got the recipe from a cookbook titled "cooking with crayons".
Mom's discipline method was to first yell at you then send you to your room. If that didn't work she made the face with her teeth sticking out... Her last resort was to whack you with a big wooden spoon. After she broke it we never got spaghetti any more.
All kidding aside I have some favorite family memories like: Vacations like Cranberry Lake - Mom and Dad loosened up on vacations. Playing Michigan Rummy, risk, Monopoly or cards, sports or now trivial pursuit.
When Dad would go away on business trips Mom would buy limburger cheese and bermuda onions and make the whole house stink. That's the reason we all moved out of the house as soon as we were 18.
After moving away from home you realize your parents aren't as horrible as you thought. That's why I really appreciated one summer job getting to work with Dad and going to NCCC where Mom worked.
Also vacations like our recent trip to Tennessee, when we went River rafting in the Grand Canyon, or Disneyworld with your grandkids.
Happy 50th Mom & Dad!
Right about here is where someone got some butter onthe camera so you will see a blurry spot for awhile.
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http://mcgreal-family.tripod.com/ann50.html - Last updated Sep 09, 2005