Last night, Charlie and I attended a celebration party for a sweet couple we have known for the last 15 years. It was their 50th wedding aniversary, and it was such a dear party. There were probably only about 75-100 people in attendance, and the party included a short vow renewal ceremony. Their middle son officiated, and recounted the last 50 years. Paul and Margaret eloped....... they had no money and no car. They entered adulthood and have grown old together. They have survived, thrived, cried, and laughed together. Rightly so, the bad memories were included and remembered with the good last night. Life isn't always a bowl of cherries or a bed of roses, especially when you include all 50 years......18,250 days....together.
I sat there thinking about how few couples make it to 50. Not many. Staticians say that number is less than 5%. In just a few days, my mom and dad will also be celebrating their 50th. We will be joining them later this year at the chapel at the Navel Academy to witness another vow renewal celebration. This is another couple with a similar life story.....one that I know even more personally. Mom and Dad got married the day my Dad graduated from the Naval Academy. Mom did not attend his graduation, as she was getting ready to be married. It was a quick wedding, as there was a line of young midshipmen waiting to marry their fiance's that day. There was little money for an elaborate affair. This marriage has been through its ups and downs as well. It would be naive to think anything otherwise.
Charlie and I also claim June as our wedding month. In less than a week, we will be celebrating our 18th wedding aniversary. We are still pups in married life compared to Mom and Dad, and Paul and Margaret. Yet by most American standards, we are already beyond the "normal" length of a marriage (7.2years). I'm sure Charlie would agree that we've definitely had our share of ups and downs. Some of our downs have been real doosies too..... However, we are not "fairweather friends" and, as the proverbial saying goes...."that which doesn't kill you will only make you stronger"...... it also applies to our marriage. It is strong, but I don't believe it is the glory days....the happy days that has kept us together. I think that it is the memory of the rough seas and the stormy days that has been the Gorilla Glue that cements us. Looking back, it's rather nice to say, "Well, if we made it thru that, we can make it thru ANYTHING", and even nicer to say it and mean it. It's easy to love and laugh together when life is air conditioned and fluffy. It's easy to love someone when money is freely there to vacation when and where you want, when health problems are not an issue and when real life does appear to mirror a dream existence. Don't get me wrong. We've had (and will have) great days...glorious days....magical days....fluffy days. I believe that it is the other (bad) days that makes the good ones so precious, appreciated, and not taken for granted. Do I want the rough stuff that appears occasionally in our lives? Absolutely not. But we are all going to get some of it sooner or later, and its alot easier to hang on to the hand of your best friend....your life long partner when the going gets tough than to go it alone or with someone with whom little history is shared.
I am looking forward to being part of the "less than 5%" 50 club with my love, my best friend. It is not for the faint of heart, yet we look forward to the ground we have yet to cover together.