Celebrating 60 Years of Marriage: You Go, Mom and Dad

What do sixty years mean?
Threescore. Memories of 1955.  A whole bunch of tree rings.
And in the case of my parents, a milestone on a long and winding road of marriage.

As my sisters and our spouses (or, as The Mate calls them, “spice”) and children gathered last week in San Antonio to celebrate our parents’ 60th anniversary, I mostly relaxed and gave myself over to family re-connection, food, and trying to stay cool. (Did I mention we were in San Antonio? In June? I used to be a Southerner, but after 25 years I’ve lost what little heat tolerance I ever had. Went for a run and thought I might die.)
But now that I’m home (aaaahhhh, nice dry 60s air!) I find myself reflecting on the significance of a 60-year marriage.
My own Mate and I have been hitched for 28, and that seems pretty impressive to us. More than twice that? That seems…at this point, frankly, unfathomable.

I hope we get to fathom it. I hope we get to be grandparents together, if our children so choose. I hope we get to sit around sharing memories of a wedding day so far back the mental pictures themselves have turned sepia.

"Photo by Satsuki "Sunshine" Scoville"

“Photo by Satsuki “Sunshine” Scoville”

I’m not worried about the hard work of marriage. After 28 years, who wouldn’t know about that? But 32 more…that’s a long time for two people to stay healthy.
So I’ll leave my reflections with a prayer of sorts from the second verse one of my songs, “Rocks of Ages.” Mom & Dad, this is dedicated to you…and to me and my Mate…and to any of you out there hoping to celebrate the same anniversary someday:

Albums in piles, stretching for miles,
Children and homes and careers.
Stacking our cares and blessings in layers,
Years upon years upon years.
Yeah, life’s mighty stratified, but I’m nothing but satisfied;
Let’s go ahead and grow old.
Call us sedimentary, we must’ve been meant to be
‘Cause the age that we’re heading for is looking like gold.

Rocks of ages, counting the stages
We entered into with these golden bands.
After all of our changes, the only thing strange is
How the earth still moves when you take my hand.

Wow, you guys. Thanks for the example.

Wow, you guys. Thanks for the example.

Got a partnership of your own to celebrate? Please do!

Can You Really Not Go Home Again?

Road Trip IV, Days 29-31: Hangin’ Out in Durham, NC

I’m home. And I’m one of the very few 52 year-old Americans who can say that.

Both my parents still live on the funky little farm where I was born in 1961. My mom is in town right now tutoring her adult literacy student. My dad, semi-retired from Duke but still actively pursuing research in animal behavior, is at his lab checking on his lemurs. (He rides his part-electric tricycle the six miles each way.)

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The dogs in the yard are just as noisy as the ones we had when I was growing up: Norwegian Elkhounds (plus a poodle). The horses are a little less motley and scruffy than the ones I grew up riding, as my mom developed a taste for dressage, but the barnyard critters are just as colorful: chickens, a goat, and Stevie, the World’s Cutest Ass Donkey. (Their llama died a couple years ago, as did Bess, the Wandering Sheep.)

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The house is even more crammed with my grandmother’s artwork (she was a sculptor), my mom’s weavings, and items picked up from a lifetime of travel to places like Madagascar, Israel and Guatemala, plus art and furniture made by various local artisan friends. Oh, and then there’s my dad’s proclivity for new gadgets, clashing horribly with the aforementioned art and requiring fancy wandering patterns to walk anywhere in the house. And the wall of family photos, stuck up higgledy-piggledy with pushpins, edges curling, hopelessly overlapping each other because new ones keep getting added without the old ones ever being organized.

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None of the doors close properly. (Drives my carpenter husband nuts.) The ancient radiators still clank at night. The fridge is full of yogurt and peanut butter, local beer and imported cheese.

 

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Carolina Friends School, which I attended K-12 (and walked to, since my parents donated some of their adjacent land for it) is still going strong. I can hear the kids right now, across the pond, out for recess. Their stray soccer balls still float by our dam.

Like I said: home.

How rare is it, at my age, to have parents still married to each other, still living in the same house where they’ve lived for the past 54 years?  

I try to make myself focus on what’s different. There’s a sporty new Subaru BRZ in the driveway, which my dad bought for my mom but she’s too embarrassed to drive. There’s a new road into the woods where Carolina Friends School is expanding; one day they will inherit the entire property from my folks. And if course there’s that poodle.

But that’s really it. Home is breathtakingly, chaotically, wonderfully the same: full of dog hair, musical instruments, books, and muddy boots.

 

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So, Thomas Wolfe, fellow North Carolinian, I’m afraid I must beg to differ. It may not happen often, but…it happens. I’m home.

What do you guys think? Is my case not as rare as it feels? I would love to hear if you or anyone you know can relate to this question: Can you really not go home again?