My wife and I had big plans to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. The pandemic significantly altered them.
In that regard, we know we are not alone. Scores of folks have postponed anniversary celebrations, weddings, vacations, reunions, bucket list trips because of the coronavirus.
Even with having received our second vaccine, we plan to mark our momentous occasion in a much more subtle way than initially planned. Staying safe is paramount.
Instead of an exciting vacation-like shindig with family and friends for our Golden Anniversary, we will overnight at a local bed and breakfast. It’s the prudent thing to do.
Like most couples, we have taken plenty of risks in our life together. Now is not the time to do a highwire act.
Our risk-taking lifestyle began when we married less than a year after we had met. We haven’t let up one iota in all those 50 years, until now.
We were so young then.
Our unified approach to life was a simple one. Neva and I have tried to put our faith into action in service to others. We recognized that doing so meant taking risks, but we were game. That has always fueled our marriage as a couple and as individuals.
After our March ceremony, we spent the summer of 1971 operating a hikers camp halfway up Pikes Peak in Colorado. It was a voluntary service assignment through the Mennonite Church that set the tone and tempo of our life together.
Our marriage has been and continues to be about relationships and service. It’s why we spent careers in public education. It’s why we participated in community non-profit boards and organizations like thrift stores and volunteer fire departments.
Doing so took time away from our family, which was a sacrifice unto itself. Even at a young age, our daughter and son understood. Consequently, they have grown to be creative, productive adults with successful, service-minded careers. We couldn’t have asked for more.
It’s a no-brainer that grandchildren are the long-term rewards of parenting. They were the main reasons we pulled up stakes from our beloved Holmes County, Ohio, to move to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.
We wanted to be near the grandkids to watch them grow, participate in extra-curricular activities, and help in any way we could. Evan, Davis, and Maren have been risk-free blessings beyond measure.
The pandemic, however, made it challenging to shift to infrequent interactions with family, friends, neighbors, and church members. We are grateful for the new friendships and renewed friendships we have made since we settled here nearly four years ago.
We were thrilled to find circles of friends, like those in Ohio, who mirrored our shared values. Trusting in one another and graciously encouraging each other to use our gifts for others has been the loving ingredient that has bound us together for half a century.
Neva and I both know that we could not have made it this far on our own. Family and friends, some now departed, have served as both models and encouragers, especially in trying times.
It’s the little things that have enriched our marriage. After 50 years together, we have learned not to take ourselves so seriously.
Each marriage is different. It’s finding the comfort zones of those differences, sharing household responsibilities, as well as laughter and tears that have kept us forever holding hands.
We have learned that it’s the everyday moments together that truly matter. Being comfortable with extended quiet times, surprised by a tender touch, a smile, or word of appreciation are a few examples. Saying I was wrong, I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you became the icing on the wedding cake.
We have appreciated all of the well-wishes and congratulations that we have received from family and friends. It’s that sure foundation that has kept us loving and living for 50 years together.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2021
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