One summer afternoon, a leggy blonde teenager by the name of Sandi, threw caution to the wind and staged a one-woman badminton game in her front yard to grab the attention of a duck-tailed boy named Charlie, who lived across the street. The two married on April 28, 1962 and just celebrated their golden anniversary – 50 years of marriage.
So what is the secret to being one of the 5% of couples who stay married for 50 years?
According to my mother, it’s having a sense of humor. She has always found my father extremely funny including laughing at and with the man for half a century.
My father thinks the secret may be not being so damned self-centered.
My parents also have a Gracie Allen and George Burns-type shtick. She’s the gabby one and he’s the dry one with the pithy zinger. My mother’s motto is, “ask for forgiveness later” and my dad’s, “anything sounds better after a glass of Johnny Walker Red scotch”. Add in the standard peace-offering of a bag of White Castle sliders and you have an idea of how they roll.
At any rate, I can honestly say as a child, I never worried about my parents divorcing. They may have had the looks of Ron and Nancy Reagan, but the epicenter of their lives was not necessarily each other, it was their commitment to building and raising a good old-fashioned nuclear family.
We threw a small dinner party in celebration of their anniversary and were lucky enough to have in attendance several long-term friends who were actually part of the wedding. My parents lived across the street from each other and there was a little girl named Betsy who lived next door to my mother.
Betsy was an adorable tomboy who was extremely inquisitive and would show up on the front porch in her nightgown every morning with a deck of cards wanting to play. Picture a blonde version of the character of Scout in “To Kill A Mockingbird.” She actually asked my father if he loved my mother before they even started dating.
Betsy was the Junior Bridesmaid at my parent’s wedding and said it was the highlight of her life. You can see her little face in all the wedding pictures. We are so lucky to have Betsy in our lives because she is a walking encyclopedia of my parents roots. My mother gave her a little bracelet for being in the wedding.
Fifty years later, Betsy still had the bracelet my mother gave her. At the anniversary party, she handed the bracelet down to my daughter along with the most beautiful note of how she was mad as a hornet because she got a bracelet instead of a baseball mit and she thought it was only right to keep the bracelet in our family.
I think there is a good chance my parents will live happily ever after as long as they have separate televisions and a White Castle up the street. And while sliders and a good scotch may be the secret to needing a cardiologist, laughter and old friends are the secret to this 50 year union.
© 2012 Terri Spilman