My husband and I will celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary this summer and what an incredible ride it has been. We had a very casual (and small, less than a dozen people) ceremony on the side of a hill in the high desert north of Los Angeles where we had planned to build one of those dome homes that were all the rage at the time. My uncle Dean, who was a Presbyterian minister in Denver flew out to officiate. In spite of the unique location, the vows were very traditional. The reception was in the backyard of my parents home late that evening where we welcomed several dozen of our closest family and friends in a casual affair that featured a cake and salads and sandwiches made by my mother and older sister and a couple of galvanized steel buckets filled with iced down beer, wine and champagne. The biggest outlay of money, $300, was spent to hire a band (neighbors of my parents) to provide music for dancing. It was the perfect wedding for us.
In the 35 plus years that have followed, some things turned out differently than we had envisioned at the time. We never did build that dome home (though we did buy a “kit” that we ended up selling to someone else). Instead we bought a newly built ranch style house less than a mile away from our wedding site (which we sold to one of our son’s friend and his wife 20 years later when we moved to Maine). But other plans and dreams we had at the time were realized. We welcomed a son and daughter within the first three years of our marriage. We both continued to work full-time and shared traditional parenting rolls, utilizing part-time childcare with my mom filling in on the rare occasions that we had scheduling conflicts. We took lots of family vacations and our kids were active on youth sports teams, school extracurriculars, and our church youth group. They both earned college scholarships (on their own merits …not like the current “Varsity Blues” scandal that is dominating the news today) and graduated in four years.
When you have kids at home, the bulk of your time and energy outside of work, is spent on their needs and preparing them to be self-sufficient, contributing adults. And so it was for us. When they left home for college, we had more time and energy to spend on ourselves and our evolving relationship as empty-nesters. We retired while our children were still in college and spent the first couple of years figuring out where we wanted to live and what kind of lifestyle suited our interests. We started celebrating “Martini Fridays” as a way to slow ourselves down and spend some quality time together at the end of each week. We quickly fell into new routines as we divvied up chores, sought out volunteer activities, planned exotic vacations that we would take, signed up at the fitness center and discovered new ways to fill our days now that we no longer had to punch a clock. Life was good. Life is good. But every once in a while, something happens that makes it necessary to step outside of your comfortable routines. A couple of years ago, Don slipped on some ice while taking the dog out for her nightly constitution and broke a couple of ribs in his back. I had to step up and do some of the things he normally would have taken care of. I took on those gladly as we are a team. This past year I have taken a couple of spills. I broke my wrist in June and my elbow the end of February. Both required surgery. Now Don has stepped up to the plate and helped with cooking, cleaning, misc. chores and even snowblowing (I love snowblowing!) while I recover. We both took our vows seriously. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.