Milestones in our lives

trip to NYC

Manhattan skyline, 2007

Today we’re celebrating our fortieth wedding anniversary and we forgot to make plans.

I turned to the internet for guidance. The ruby is the gemstone for the fortieth and the nasturtium is the flower. Unfortunately, my nasturtiums are a month away from blooming and I didn’t allow time to drop by a jewelry store to pick up a passel of rubies. In fact, we’re headed to Costco to buy new electric toothbrushes. However, gladioli are an acceptable floral substitute for nasturtiums. They represent “infatuation,” while the latter signify “victory in battle” or “conquest.” I’ll display them in a red vase and we’ll toast with a dark red wine, two stand-ins for rubies.

I decided yesterday — another late brainstorm — that I wanted to celebrate with friends. I called the couple who were our witnesses on the application for the marriage license and who stood up for us at the ceremony, but they had another commitment. At first I felt sad that we hadn’t made earlier plans with others.  Forty seemed too special to ignore.

Then it hit me that defying tradition has typified the last forty years, starting with the decision to marry at the King County courthouse, with Judge Charles Stokes officiating. (We jumped one party ahead in the wedding queue because the couple before us was too intoxicated to legally consent to anything, let alone a marriage contract.) Afterwards, we took a few friends out for Chinese dinner.  That was about it.  We couldn’t afford a honeymoon, so I went back to work the next day. Some years we forgot our anniversary entirely. In 1980, Mt. St. Helens alerted us by blowing up.  This led to annual reminders of the eruption by the local media, making it easier to keep track of the date. But these days they note the event in six-point type, now too small for us to read.

I feel comforted that our ongoing failure to observe conventions hasn’t hurt us.  We still enjoy spending our days together, still laugh, talk, miss each other when one of us is gone for more than a few hours, enjoy a bounty of friendships, and look out for each other. When you marry in your twenties, the thought you might be celebrating forty years later doesn’t cross your mind.  You’re never going to get old.  But it happens.

I’m hopeful that our spectacular history of missing the milestones will propel us to our fiftieth anniversary.  Did I mention that we often overlook birthdays, too?

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About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness.
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6 Responses to Milestones in our lives

  1. travelnwrite says:

    We also celebrate our anniversaries in much the same manner. And for fear of sounding way too cliche, “Time does fly when you are having fun.” With the right person, decades of marriage never stop being fun. Live it up today, tomorrow and the next. Won’t be long I’ll be sending greetings for your 50th anniversary. Maybe by then the seeds you planted for me will have bloomed and I can bring you a bouquet. . .

  2. Evelyn says:

    Happy Anniversary! From what I’ve seen of the two of you, you celebrate your relationship daily in very thoughtful and fun ways. Dinner for two on your anniversary gave you a special time to reflect on the joys of it all, and your writing about it created, for those of us who read it, a lovely painting in the mind’s eye. Thanks!

  3. From someone who only put 12 years into a marriage, I salute your long commitment but even more salute the obvious companionship and friendship and love between the two of you. Your description of your informal but meaningful relationship was quite touching. It reminded me of my parents long-standing marriage, filled with lots of laughter and very few formal expressions of affection. How lucky the two of you are!! My congratulations again (in addition to my FB post).

  4. Sharon Howard says:

    Congratulations!! The photo of you both is great. Today is also the anniversary of my high school graduation– the 50th.

  5. Hortensia Moreno says:

    I am so happy for both of you, FELICIDADES, Congratulations Ann & Greg, You give me a lot of hope to continue in this “track”, Jorge & me had our 20th Anniversary this year and I though was “a lot of years” and “a lot of adventures together” but no!, Is only the beginning of our love.
    Both of you are the perfect example of love and comprehensions, We’ll see you in the 50th anniversary party. I put already in my calendar. 🙂

  6. Ronna says:

    Happy anniversary, and congratulations on a long happy marriage! We also eloped, and we also tend to forget our anniversary. My brother has the same anniversary, so he calls me up to remind me. I’m not sure about all the reasons some marriages work and some don’t, but I’m pretty sure that those of us who remember “love is a verb” have an edge. Here’s to many more happy anniversaries for you. Notice I didn’t write “anniversary celebrations” since you’ll probably forget to do those. But what you lack in sentimentality you make up in love. It’s a good trade.

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