Among many things I do that cause angst among my boyfriend of 22 years and children, almost 40 and 33, is my remembrance of dates.
I don’t just remember them, I usually act upon them, even if it’s just mentioning them in passing.
I looked at the calendar on my kitchen cupboard the other day and realized that next Tuesday, January 30, would have been my parents’ 70th wedding anniversary.
Even though Fritz the Dad has been gone almost 25 years, they are still very much married in the eyes of all who knew them, especially Peggy Jane the Mom.
So I dialed her up to talk about the wedding and ask what she thinks the answers to a successful marriage are.
“Well, you have to be supportive of one another. You have to listen. Always put each other first. And you have to like them,” she said.
They were married in January because their planned spring wedding the year before was put on hold.
Mom contracted tuberculosis while in nurse’s training and spent nine months (!) in the hospital.
I can’t even imagine. I certainly didn’t get my extreme lack of patience from her.
“I always used to say I could have had a baby in the time I was in the hospital,” she said.
They were married in the morning at St. Pius X Catholic Church just up the street from the house she lived in with her parents, my Nana and Bapa.
After the wedding, they hosted a big breakfast at the Wabeke Tea Room, because in those days you fasted from midnight before receiving Communion.
Then she went back to her parents’ house, took off her wedding gown and took a nap, doctor’s orders.
After the nap, the wedding dress went back on and the gala reception was held, again at the Wabeke Tea Room.
Their honeymoon was spent ice fishing on Houghton Lake, which is big in family lore.
Mom says they did that because it was cheap and they didn’t have any money.
I think they did it because even then, Fritz the Dad was an obsessive fisherman and she wanted to make him happy.
While there, a photographer snapped their photo on the lake, and it was on a colored postcard available in bait shops and gas stations forever.
Occasionally, someone will find one in a junk shop Up North and send it.
They look about 12 in that picture, even though they were 22 (Mom) and 21 (Dad).
Almost exactly three years ago, I interviewed Eldine and Joe Maixner in Casper.
They had received a certificate as Wyoming’s longest married couple (71 years) from Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a ministry of the Catholic Church.
I asked them, 91 and 94 at the time, what makes a strong marriage.
Love, faith and family, they said.
Lots has changed in 70 years.
Many choose to play house first before a wedding is even considered.
Many choose never to have a wedding.
Some spend thousands on a wedding and God is never mentioned.
In what world is a burlap mason jar centerpiece filled with fairy lights more important than God?
It wasn’t to Peggy Jane Tisot Shurmur.
It wasn’t to Eldine Maixner.
And if there is any hope for our future, it shouldn’t be to us either.
Sally Ann Shurmur can be reached at: SallyAnnShurmur@gmail.com