Anniversaries mark much more than dates

By Karl Terry

It’s a bittersweet occasion but we’re going to remember it anyway because of its importance.

Earlier this week my parents would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary together, had my dad lived. He died a little over three years short of the milestone.

We’re planning a small, private family gathering today to mark the event. The idea might sound a little odd to some or even like a bit of a downer but the marriage was so important to our family that the bond and friendship they created lives past Dad’s death. It was also one of my mother’s biggest regrets in losing Dad.

Over the years there’s no telling how many anniversary announcements I’ve typed for the various newspapers I’ve worked at. I’ve never minded doing it when I didn’t have staff to take care of what some would consider that menial task. To me it was the second most important thing the newspaper provided next to an obituary. It couldn’t be screwed up — though unfortunately I’m sure I did over the years.

Having celebrated my own 25th anniversary last year, I can see even more clearly what it means to a couple to have that chance to reflect on their life’s path. Most people have no regret in the reflection — often it’s simply amazement at the storms they weathered and the many crossings of life’s river that had to be made along the way.

One of my most memorable interviews ever was with a couple in Colorado who were celebrating 70 years of marriage. She was still getting around and out to church every week but he had been confined to home mostly for a few years previous to the anniversary. His mind was still sharp as a tack as he recalled meeting his love on a train in the Dallas area more than 70 years earlier.

They told of the businesses they had built together and the children they had created. It was an important milestone in their life when they migrated from Texas to Colorado to “retire” — actually they started another business.

They each corrected the other on the details from time to time as they told their story as we sat at their dining room table in the house they had built on the banks of the Crystal River, but neither begrudged the other their opinion on how things had happened. They were just amazed that they had been together 70 years.

These days — with marriage not all that important to some couples and divorce no big deal in our society — making a 50th anniversary is a big deal.

There has to be something that can be learned from those couples who have been married a half century or better. If I find out what that is later today I’ll write it down and let you know about it.

Karl Terry is managing editor for Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at 356-4483 or by e-mail:

karl_terry@link.freedom.com