Sunday, September 9, 2007

Relationship Strings: Imagine 60 or 70 Years?!?

Recently I saw a photo of a couple who had just celebrated 70 years of marriage! It must almost be the record, if it's not the record in our times. My grandparents are working on 60. Today we celebrated with them. Their anniversary is actually in December, but since they are snow birds, we have to get our celebrations in with them before October 1 when they are outta here! They had 5 children and live on the same farm property they bought from my great-grandparents very early in their marriage. While the second generation is busy working, taking care of parents and kids, they managed to pull together a little party for the family and a few of my grandparent's friends. It was a bit stressful and I worried it would come together, but I applaud my Mom for taking on the major responsibility of pulling it together so well. It's always worth the effort to honor someone, especially parents and marriage.

Saturday was an unusually hot September day, but Sunday it decided to rain. My grandmother really wanted the event at "the pond", where we have most of our family events in the summer. The pond is a small 50-acre or so pond called Sidensparker. The farm owns frontage on this small summer haven and in 1997 a camp was built there. Over the years there have been a number of weddings, showers and picnics, and for the well-planned, important ones my grandfather has always been the naysayer, "What's your plan if it rains?" So for back up he usually gets the Masonic Hall key. Well, for once my grandfather was right (and I hope he didn't rub it in too much after 60 years.) The weather report and skies were not favorable and a tarp over the porch was planned. We got it up in time for the nice, light drizzle. And in time for the lobsters. My uncle, who runs the farm's egg business now, backed one of his box trucks up near the food and hoisted a picnic table into it to drily seat 6 or 8. The dozen or so of their friends snuggled up on the porch and ate lobster, corn and the various salads on their laps! I thought, "Oh, geez, what do they think of this?"

But I know my grandparents are well-liked. They know everyone because they have lived in the area most of their lives and come from large extended families. For the record they attended their 12th funeral this morning since being home for the summer. That they know enough people to go to 12 funerals in a season just says a lot about them and their commitment to honoring relationships. All this to say that long-term relationships are so important, and celebrating big moments are just as important. Unfortunately a few of the family had other important events to attend, such as a wedding. But it's wonderful that so many people could attend and honored my grandparents.

As for 60 (or 70 or possibly 80?!) years, I wish I knew their secret because it's wonderful thay they've provided a solid springboard for all of us. The second and third generations have run into their own squabbles, hurt feelings and falling-outs with each other, but my grandparents have been the consistent rocks, and loved everyone the same. There's not much that can be said to contradict the traditional values that have allowed that.

So it wasn't your average fancy 60th anniversary party sparkling with diamonds and fancy finger foods, but you know what? No one left early, or complained. (Who can complain when lobster is on the menu?) A number of them just raved at how much fun it all was. And my Aunt said, "This is the picnic we'll talk about for years." And we will too.

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