My parents’ 50th wedding anniversary is this week. To honor them and celebrate this momentous occasion (really, can you imagine?) my sisters and brothers-in-law and I are having a big shin-dig for them next weekend—complete with a polka band and pierogi. As their printed invitations announced, “Please join us for dinner and dancing following 4 o’clock mass[…]” We are going all out for my parents because…well…because they deserve it. Obviously, there is a considerable accomplishment in being married 50 years. That in and of itself seems worth a party. But there’s so much more than that.
They never had a wedding. They married quietly in Poland in 1960 before emigrating here, separated for the first several months of their marriage. They worked hard, learned English and had three daughters. They educated us all, threw two weddings, and dote on four grandchildren. They have been retired for several years, but my father still does side work on a farm, and my mother keeps busy in her garden and the kitchen. Lately, they’ve been getting excited about the party.
Jill flies in from San Diego Thursday night, and Norma is coming up on a train from New York Friday night ahead of Ray and their kids to help us out and to make the wedding-style cake. Saturday I’ve enlisted Donna again to get our centerpieces right and the hall looking perfect, and Sandy is meeting us there well in advance with her black-and-whites and bar gear in tow to make sure the bar is ready to go. My dad is chomping at the bit to throw some money in the pot, of course (absolutely not!), and my mom is going to bake some desserts (there was no saying no to that), but for the most part they have accepted that this something we want to do for them. It is their turn.
If you put them on a couch like the couples in When Harry Met Sally, I wonder what they’d say. What was the secret to their success, other than divorce being absolutely not an option for them? I honestly don’t know what they’d say, and while I am curious, I don’t think I’d ask. Instead, it is enough to remember, when I think of my parents and times in our life as a family both good and bad, two things.
Even if they weren’t talking or I could tell my mother was mad at my father for something, my father always kissed my mother when he walked in the door from work. Every day my parents kissed. And at every event at which there was music, they danced.