My parents, Ben and JoAnne Weldon, celebrated their 50th anniversary last night.
We had a surprise party for them at my house. We invited 30 friends - I am sure more would have come if they had known of the celebration - we kept it at 30 du to room. Ben and Jo are that kind of people ... unassuming and very giving. I like to think it runs in the family.
As all of their friends arrived at the house, it was as if the party arrived with them ... everyone was talking - making new friends. I didn't know very many of these people. But they were all very warm and friendly. Mom and dad were running a bit late so I gave them a call to tell them to hurry up - the ruse was that we were having a party for my son Zach who just recently enlisted in the Air Force. So, when mom and dad drove into the driveway, they started to get the impression that maybe this was a bigger party than was originally represented. 20 cars in the driveway ... as they walked through the front door - strobe lights from the cameras ... but still there were only 4 people in the entryway - everyone else was very quiet in the kitchen / family room. My house does not have a sight line from the front door to the kitchen - so they had to walk through the foyer and into the family room - there they met all of their friends. It was a great thing to see.
For people who just don't celebrate personal stuff - birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, etc. - to give them a real celebration of 50 years of marriage. Truly a fabulous event.
As the evening wound down - I asked my dad the secret of lasting 50 years - he is not an old guy - not yet 70. They were married very young and only after a 6 month courtship - his answer was certain ... forgiveness, both outgoing and inbound. Life is perfect - we are not. We make our own difficulties and live with those memories. Being forgiven for our faults and selfish actions helps us to grow through them - personally and together.
As I look back, I see how my parents have changed - letting go of their desired outcomes and accepting what comes. They keep their opinions, but allow others theirs as well. They have forgiven others, found personal peace, and above all - continue to support their friends and family through whatever means are available to them.
50 years is a testament to a life and marriage built on learning and faith that all will come to good. May they live another life of happiness and peace, and demonstrating to others how to do the same.